Aid Resistant or Trying to Survive?
Politicians sometimes call those who prefer to avoid the homeless shelter “aid resistant.” Steve, says he nearly died the one time he tried the downtown shelter and had to go to the hospital, so that’s enough reason for him to stay away.
“I haven't been back. They never opened the windows… So if one person gets sick it goes through like, you know, wildfire,” he said.
The 47-year-old who says he never really recovered from losing his mother says he would like to see more low income housing and less police harassment for those living outside. “There used to be a whole bunch of people camping here,” he said of spots near the Aces baseball stadium. “And they moved them out of here, so they chase them up and down the river, you know, write them tickets for anything, you know, anything they can. Not all the police, but a lot of them.”
Steve has his own spots downtown he prefers not to reveal, as he says he’s remained hidden from both police and violence.
A Rise in Homelessness, Addictions and Mental Illness
The recovering alcoholic says he’s seen more and more people on the streets of late.
“Over the last few years that I've been on the streets, definitely there's more homeless,” he said. “Absolutely. Main thing is drugs and alcohol. The cost of housing has also gone up in the last couple of years. Like the motels, like Jacobs Entertainments tearing them down. They were supposed to put low income housing and that was the rumor, but they still haven't started.”
He says even if some homeless are “aid resistant” like he is, it’s ultimately sad people don’t get the help they need.
“I think the person who's homeless has to deal with their problems first… with addiction, mental illness. We see a lot of mentally ill out on the street … you know, they're not getting the cure, you know, the help they need either, and there's been a lot more of the mentally ill homeless that I've seen … that's been a big increase in the homeless population.”
He says he feels terrible for women who are homeless as well. “They are harassed all the time and you know … they got to deal with a lot of bullshit out here…I feel bad for them.”