Mike takes responsibility for ending up homelessness. He had some sober time, but after an illness regressed back to old behaviors. Now, Mike wants to better his life and get out of homelessness, but more often than not, homeless services doesn’t make it easy for people to get off the streets.
I met Mike while walking across a downtown street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We struck up a conversation and being honest, I was not sure he was homeless. I asked him if he wanted some socks and that’s when the conversation changed. In this interview, Mike shares how hard it is to go to a job interview when you don’t have bus money or clean clothes.
The local shelter kicks people out into the cold at 6 am every day, and with no resources to go look for work. People are not allowed back into the shelter until 7:30 at night. As much as I hate this model of kicking people out during the day it is very common. Normally, business and public services don’t open until 9 am, so homeless people have to wander around outside even in freezing weather.
Mike told me the shelter makes people blow into a breathalyzer to get in at night. I understand and actually support abstinence-based models as long as there are other ‘low barrier’ options in the community available. Alcohol and drugs eventually take over a person’s life and they cannot simply quit. By only allowing sober people into the homeless shelter in severe weather states like Minnesota, chronic alcoholics are then refused services when they need them the most.