Fending for Herself
Marilou Gallegos has been living on the streets and relying on food stamps since March of this year. When we met her, she was staying along the railroad tracks with her dog Nikita. Originally from the Philippines, she grew up in California and moved to Reno in 2014 after a bad divorce. She has friends in the Biggest Little City but for the most part, she says, it’s just her and her dog.
“I love Reno. I love some of the people that got a heart. Really, it makes me feel welcome because my dad died 17 years ago,” she said. “My mom has a heart problem back home. So pretty much it’s just me and my dog because my kid is in the Navy,” she said.
Gallegos spends her days walking with her dog, checking in with people in other homeless encampments and smoking marijuana to relieve her back pain.
Dealing With Police and Attacks While Living on the Streets
Gallegos says she has been dealing with police in more ways than one. She recently got a ticket for camping near a different part of the railroad tracks. She says homeless people are treated unfairly and discriminated against.
“I'm not saying that I'm making excuses for me, but in my situation, we need help,” she said of the repeated sweeps and early morning warnings. “You should not push them away. You should ask them what's wrong or anything.”
Gallegos has also filed police reports of her own. She says a man sexually assaulted her while she was camping with a friend. But she says her report went ignored. Additionally, she says she had some of her most important belongings stolen one night while she was going to the bathroom, including her cellphone, drivers license, jewelry, knife, baby photos, cash, and cards stolen.
Difficulties in Getting Her ID Back
Without a car, and storage for her belongings, it’s been a difficult task for Gallegos to replace her ID.
“How am I supposed to go to the DMV?,” she asks. “I don't have no place to put my stuff.”
Gallegos says she especially cherishes the shirts and dresses she has from the Philippines and keeps them in her tent. Once Gallegos gets her ID she says she hopes to get a job.