Name: James Jefferson
Date: June 17, 2021
Place: Florida and Treat streets
Homeless: 12 to 13 years
“Does a tent afford privacy? I can do whatever I want within the four walls, but in this situation it feels like you’re an endangered species. Like you’re being hunted really slowly and silently. You never know when they’re going to come and uproot you. I’m used to it, but at the same time I’m not. It doesn’t feel like a hundred percent home, it just feels like it’s for now.
“In here, I can escape everything that’s going on outside. It keeps me from getting into trouble. Having it helps me keep grounded. I try to be routine with things, like I clean a lot. But at the same time, in the back of my head, it’s like for how long will I be able to do this before the City comes in and tells us we have to move and then takes all our stuff, it’s like happiness but for a very, very temporary period.
“I’ve been granted housing, but it hasn’t been finalized yet. I haven’t even seen the place. I don’t know if it will resolve some of the issues for me, medical. For example, I must have a restroom because of an underlying medical condition. I don’t know if the City is willing to work with me on it. It’s scary having something dangled in front of you, but if you file a grievance of any kind, they might say ‘fuck you’ and just walk away from you. Then you’re out on the street because of something you can’t naturally control. It’s really depressing and demoralizing.
“The way I understand it you’re meant to stay in one of these temporary SRO hotels for a year before you can move on to better housing. A lot of those places don’t allow guests. Or you can only have guests for a certain period of time. They give you a number of nights you can have people stay over , it doesn’t feel normal. It feels like you’re in this ‘nanny state.’ It feels like rights are being taken away.
“I’m primarily looking for a place that has a restroom. I don’t cook, so a kitchen isn’t necessarily something that I’m looking for. If it’s part of the deal, then great. But my expectation is to have privacy and a restroom. That’s it, that’s all I want.”
Where do you go (to the bathroom) now?
“A lot of different places. On the lowest of the low, I would say bottles, buckets. Moving up, it would be a Porta-Potty, if they were available. If they’re not, then I’ll do what I need to do outside. It’s like a whatever it takes situation. You don’t control when you have to go, so it just depends on the urgency of the situation, whenever it arises. And usually it’s at a time when there are no public restroom available. After 8 o’clock when things start to die down, I get creative.”