There is something very subtle in Ronnie’s interview that is so very important. At one point he shows me the clothes hangers he found and believes he’ll be able to sell. Besides the fact that we have created a scavenger class of people in America, just imagine the human spirit at a point where a person’s entire survival revolves around what garbage they can find.
I am not talking about the people who go out and intentionally dumpster dive for what they believe is buried treasure. Homeless people like Ronnie have had their spirits broken. They are no longer living — they are surviving! It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been to the point of when learned helplessness sinks in, and you just give up on any hope of getting out of homelessness.
It took me a while to grasp Ronnie’s story. Ronnie was visiting a girl he was dating. After watching a basketball game with the family, the girl’s father told Ronnie he could sleep outside instead of going all the way home. Ronnie crashed in the alley behind the house, and a truck ran over his leg. Ronnie was still able to work but sometime after, a skateboarder ran over his leg, and Ronnie was not able to work eventually losing his job.
Ronnie has lived on the streets of Venice Beach homeless now for five years. He calls himself a collector. He primarily scavenges for survival. Like so many others, Ronnie has adapted to homelessness!
After I first met Ronnie, I stopped to talk to him several times. I am not a social worker nor do I have any medical experience but from my interactions with Ronnie, I believe he is vulnerable. He needs help. He needs to get off the streets! He needs us to advocate for him because there just is not enough support or housing for all the homeless people who need it.
Please watch this video on Housing First:
We can end homelessness! We know how! We just need the public support to make it hap