Drug Addictions and Bad Karma
"I made bad choices and you know karma. I've had to be out here now from choices I made so that's what it is. It's no one's fault but my own. I had an addiction to pills and I started stealing them from my mother and lying and you know just all that kind of stuff so I had to leave my parents' dwelling, and my children were there. So, it was the best thing for me. This was about five years ago."
"Once that happened I started drinking and then I started doing other drugs so I didn't have to feel the hurt and the pain you know. So, you really can't get anywhere if you do stuff like you know what I'm saying. So, you know these are the consequences of my actions right now. I've been on the streets of Reno for around five years. It's off and on. You know I get things stolen from me or I'm too nice or too kind to people. And when I have a place I let them stay so they're not homeless like I was and they just mess it up, you know, because they don't care. So that's why you know usually I'm out on the streets because I'm giving to people you know."
She doesn't like the shelters, where she says she also gets her things stolen, and doesn't like the overall vibe.
"Nobody there really wants to help themselves," she said. You know so if you're around people that aren't positive and they're not willing to help themselves It's kind of hard for you to want to do it yourself too.
Seeking Help in the Wrong Places
She says she's tried craigslist seeking help for her and her boyfriend, but that usually it ends up being men who want to have sex with her.
"I find these gentlemen and they take us both. But if I'm not with them sexually then, they just kick us away and toss us out, you know, basically they're not here to help. I get taken advantage of because they want to sleep with me and I don't want that. I'm good."
She says she's reached out to church organizations and hope they will help, as she says she feels like she is reaching the end of her rope, missing her family and feeling so much pain.
"Hopefully will help us get a place because I have blisters on top of my blisters. That's why you see me like this because I can't walk really anymore right now. It's like this big you know on the bottom of my foot. I wish people would be more understanding and understand that you know this could be you one day. I'm a human and I'm a mother, I’m a daughter, I'm just like everybody else. I just made the wrong decisions. You know. Yeah, I got two kids. I got a 14-year-old boy and a 9-year-old daughter you know. They're with my mom and dad, my mom and dad take care of them," she said. "I don't feel like I'm good enough to be with my children. So that's why they're there."
Hoping for Help to Get Her Own Room
She'd like to see the city of Reno convert more abandoned lots and buildings for housing for the homeless, or for teaching people new trades so they can get back in the workforce. She says even one month's free rent in an actual home could maybe get her going back on the right track.
"I would like to be able to get back on my feet," she said. "I'd like to be able to have a roof over my head. You know stability is key with everybody, everybody needs stability, to feel comfortable and to feel something you know what I'm saying. I would like to have a roof over my head, I'd like it, but that's all the help that I would ask for. Maybe if they could get me a monthly or something, a month paid on rent and then I could go. I have my ID, everything like that. Out here you can’t have a job and be out on the street, it just doesn't work. And then the shelter is no good either. So, I just would like if someone would help, they would help me with a month on a room or a place so I have some stability."
A Relationship on the Streets
She met Brian four years ago, and they've been together ever since.
"He was sitting on a bench over there, by the Sands and asked me for a charger to charge his phone and I had a charger to charge his phone. He asked me if I could help him with something ... He just kind of followed me around everywhere. And from then on, we were together I guess. He's really nice. He's really a good dude. He's always polite and does everything for me. I don't know where anything is in my backpack. He's the one who packs everything up and finds it for me. He knows what I want before I want it."
She says she wants him to step up and help more, but that she understands since they're homeless, her expectations are unreasonable. She says not having a home creates a vicious cycle of unemployment and addiction.
"Because we're homeless, it's harder to get a job. It's harder to get another chance ... The reason why people are out on the streets and they're doing a lot of the crystal is because they have to be up 24/7 because they don't have a place to lay their head and if they go in and lay their head somewhere like right here they're quickly swooped up. So, they have to do stimulants so they can stay up and be out and about all night long. Because if not, they'd be falling out everywhere you know. I mean that's a big thing. They don't have a place to go you know so they don't have a place to lay their head so they're always you know getting high and stuff."
Dreams of a Better, Simple Life
She says she could be a prostitute to make some money but stays away from that lifestyle.
"I don't want to be out there on the street asking a guy to pay for me," she said. "I want to be able to be a lady like I am, and go and get a regular job and do it that way, every day. I don't ever have a break to where I can just sit and collect my thoughts and think about what I want to do in my life, because I'm constantly going ding ding ding ding. I'm just constantly trying to hustle or try to find money so I can have a roof over my head, and nine times out of 10 because I don't do mean things to people, I don't get money. So, I stay broke because I'm trying to be right about things you know," she said.
"Homeless people are good people too. They're just like everybody else. Like if you saw me on the street you would not know that I was homeless because I do not carry myself that way so you can't judge a book by its cover. And help them out. Do something to help them. You never know, there could be one thing that you did for this person that helped change their life. I mean I've had a heck of money. I've had lots of money. I've had no money. And I know what it's like to be both in both places and if I had one person that came up and helped, I would appreciate. I guess love one another. Stop being so judgmental, judging everybody, I don't think anybody has the right to do that," she concluded.
Reporting by Prince Nesta for Our Town Reno