“I’m a human being, but sometimes I don’t feel like one anymore,” although it’s hard to put homelessness in words, that heartbreaking statement made by Michelle comes close. She continued by saying that she doesn’t care if she’d go to jail because at least she would have a roof over her head.
I met Michelle while walking through Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. She had just woken up from sleeping under some stairs near a hospital. Michelle said she was so cold the night before that she didn’t care if she was trespassing or not. All she owned was the clothes she was wearing. Everything else had been stolen.
Homelessness is horrible for everyone but women on the street they face extra challenges to survive. In this video, Arien shares about being raped on her third day homeless. Michelle mentions in this video how men attach to women on the streets and in shelters manipulating them in different ways. As a shelter worker, I have seen this play out over and over again. Most shelter staff are aware when this happens and we try to intervene the best we can but sadly the streets are a dangerous place and women do whatever they can to feel protected and safe.
Michelle’s story is heartbreaking. She is extremely vulnerable. There are tens of thousands of women just like her homeless on the streets of Los Angeles County. We must do everything we can to get people off the streets and prevent others from becoming homeless.