I had the privilege to join USC’s Street Medicine program as they cared for homeless people throughout Los Angeles. Invisible People is producing a mini-documentary on their great work and the importance of street medicine.
While driving to a homeless shelter created in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the medical team told me Steven was excited to tell his story. While editing this today, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Steven has terminal cancer. He’s dying. Steven wanted to tell his story as a legacy and help gain support for street medicine programs. I am deeply humbled that we could provide a meaningful platform for Steven to share his story.
Steven has lived on the streets homeless for ten years. He is 70 years old. Steven is candid about how his addiction to drugs caused his homelessness. He lived in a tent made out of traps. They used buckets to go to the bathroom.
What many people do not understand is how addiction takes over a person’s life. No one wants to be homeless. People use drugs to escape pain, and at some point, the drugs take over. Addicts cannot just flip a switch to stop using drugs, and no sensible person would shit in a bucket for an extended period of time, but then at some point, homelessness becomes normalized. Humans adapt while the drugs take over! This is why we must continue to push for more housing and treatment!
Regardless of how Steven ended up homeless, he is still a person. Addicts are people too. I believe we have a moral obligation to help those who are in need, but if you are more concerned about money, as a taxpayer, we all pay huge money to take care of people still in some state of homelessness. Street medicine saves lives and saves taxpayer’s money.
Because of Steven’s health issues, the homeless shelter may not be able to allow him to stay. The medical team is concerned that Steven may be exited back out to homelessness due to a lack of housing and support services.
Near the end, Steven shares that he is not worried because he has good people looking out for him. Steven was referring to the medical team, but I believe if you’re reading this, you’re good people, too. Please click here https://invisiblepeople.tv/get-involved/ to tweet, call, or email your state and federal legislators to tell them ending homelessness is a priority to you.
***we did add a 2nd camera, but Steven’s audio was not edited, so everything he shared was raw and unfiltered.