Many social workers were homeless themselves at one point, or in tough predicaments, or surrounded by family members going through difficult times. Many who give and help others are often just a misstep away from being homeless themselves. Perhaps, it’s knowing the difficulty of fighting for survival every moment that opens their heart to others.
“It sucks. It really does,” Marcus said of homelessness. “Me, myself, I do have my own family but yeah, I'm trying. I'm trying to help out my family while helping out others too because others do need help too.”
An Idea for a Housing Program with an Extra Twist
If he had the resources, he says, he would open up a two year housing program for the homeless, where they would give him $50 a month, and then he would return all their money when they moved on.
“It's basically to help them get on their feet. They'll have a place to stay. They'll have a place to shower, clean clothes, everything like that. But also, I'm going to do a little trick with them every time they get a check. When they get their check, they hand me 50 dollars so I can put that aside for them. So when they're done with the two-year program they have that extra money to fall back on.”
He says it would be pet-friendly, as he sees that’s a problem with many shelters or solutions for the homeless, where they can’t have their most cherished friends with them.
“They can bring pets. I don't care about pets, because pets come on, you can't be mean to somebody you can't tell one person, Yeah, they can have this pet and then tell another no. Everybody's allowed to have pets.”
But drugs or alcohol would not be allowed. “I want them to be clean while they're doing this program. I want them to be able to succeed. Not fail,” he said.
Insecurity on the Streets
The worst part of being homeless, Marcus said, was having no security whatsoever, and belongings repeatedly stolen.
“That's the toughest part is there's a lot of people out here who have the money to buy their stuff, but yet they want to steal from homeless. That's not right. Because that's taking away from somebody who already has basically nothing. “
Worried About Rising Rents
He is worried about landlords across Reno tearing down or improving the affordable, if somewhat run down, places and rising rents.
“They're being selfish because they want to make the money … And that's wrong. That's definitely wrong. I wouldn't do that to people. I would like, if I was to buy a place, I would leave it at a cheap rent because of the fact that it helps other people be able to get off the street…. You cannot make it to where it’s harder for everybody to live but make it easier for (just) the rich people to live.”
Reporting by Prince Nesta for Our Town Reno