Newly Homeless Again
Ace says he’s newly homeless again after he said he had family problems back on the East Coast with his older brother and mother, who both siblings depend on.
He says he didn’t agree with his mother taking his formerly jailed brother in. He says he had been a caretaker, cooking for his mom.
He’d been to Reno before and felt people didn’t bother him here, so he came back. He says he’s also had periods of homelessness in St. Louis, Missouri and Portland, Oregon, among other places, but he feels safer in the Biggest Little City.
Depending on Social Security Disability Payments Rather than Work
When on the streets, he gets by with the Social Security disability payments he’s been receiving since he was 21 for psychiatric disorders, including constant bouts with paranoia.
He once tried working in low-level jobs but he says it put him and others in danger.
“I can't work with other people because I feel like I'm I'm doing double the work,” he said. “And I'm always working around individuals who are either on drugs or alcohol. I don't want to go back to doing what I used to do... I used to take a folding knife and I used to cut my chest to prevent myself from cutting people while I was at work.”
A Typical Day Back and Forth from the Shelter
Lately he says he’s been trying to stay calm while staying at Reno’s main shelter and described a typical day.
“I get up from the men's dorm. I brush my teeth. I try to keep you know hygiene. As much as possible … I try to. I try to stay clean. After I use the restroom, I scan my card, because you have to scan your cards so that way you can keep your bed. Otherwise, the staff will cut your lock. And throw your things out. Once I'm out of the men's shelter, I go across the parking lot, to what's called the day area ... aka the pit. And I stand in line and wait until 8 o'clock. These gentlemen come in with bagels and donuts. I usually have a bagel, because I try not to have sweets. So I grab a bagel and I start to walk to the Believe (sculpture) area here between North Virginia street and Central street. And I stay here for hours until I eventually go to the downtown Reno library. And I play chess alone, although I did play with this gentleman last week. I usually play chess to improve my chess skills.”
Growing a Beard not to Be Bothered
He says he’s been growing a beard not because he likes the look, but not to be bothered by others.
He says he’s attempted suicide twice, once trying to drown when he was briefly in the Navy, and a second time in Missouri, when he swallowed 39 aspirins.
He says he’s tired of suffering, constant insomnia, and the way he says someone could help him the most would be for them to shoot him dead. The voices he says he hears wouldn’t allow him to kill himself.
He also has a twin brother, he doesn’t speak to anymore, and is childless himself, as he says he doesn’t believe in bringing children into a world “that’s evil and pain.”
"Don't Feel Sorry for the Homeless"
He says people shouldn’t feel sorry for the homeless. “The men's dorm, a lot of the men they come in drunk? Why. Why do they come in drunk? Why do they say they need money, when they they've been drinking? Don't feel sorry for homeless people. Don't feel sorry for me. The voices they will lead me to where I need to be, but don't don't feel guilt. Don't feel sad."
"[A lot of homeless] love to be homeless. They love to be drunk. They love to do their drugs. That's why they're homeless. I always found it difficult to be homeless because I don't drink alcohol. I don't. I don't do drugs…. Other homeless, you see them around, just keep walking because more than likely they're under the influence of something.”
Now that his older brother moved back with his mom though, he says his plight is to remain homeless. “My mother was the reason I used to go back,” he said.
“I would be homeless and then I would go back to Jersey because when I would speak to my mother she'd say no one helps her. And so I would go back to help her. But this time … this time I can't because, she keeps bringing the pain in her life. And I'm tired of that pain and I don't want to see her in pain. And so the best thing to do is just … to just to forget it…..”