Word on the Street: Joanne & Taylor

Photo/Robert Gumpert

Names: Taylor Michael, 42, and Joanne Fong, 48

Time without a home: Michael: Just under a year; Joanne: Since June 2015

What does homeless mean to you?

Michael: Well San Francisco’s my home. I maybe houseless, displaced, it just means displacement.

What does home mean to you?

Michael: Home means a place I can have my doors secured, kick by after work, or whatever it is I do during the day; t’s my place, my sanctuary.

Joanne: A home is something like you buy, I guess, and have. That you raise your family in and that’s what we haven’t had.

What is the most difficult thing about being without a home?

Michael: It limits your ability to be creative.

Joanne: Out here the most difficult thing is running water and electricity. And the toilet.  Knowing where to put your garbage and not being too much of a nuisance to other people.

What does community mean to you?

Joanne: I was wondering where that word [community] came from. Maybe it’s communicate, that’s where community comes from. If you are able to, willing to, communicate with each other and come together, be able to resolve something, or create something, [that’s community].  A lot of people don’t understand what community is cause there’s a lot of people doing disservices to each other. Yah, I actually think it’s about communication, what community is.

Michael: Community? Well I break it down in a lot of different ways. Unity, I mean people don’t even know what that word is now because if they did we wouldn’t be in this situation. Community means everybody banding together, recognizing one another, and sharing experiences with each other.  A community raises each other, takes care of each other, that’s something we don’t have, anyone in the US anymore. So it means nothing to me personally at this time in my life because I’m witnessing no unity at all, not in this community.

If there was one thing you wanted people to know about you, what would it be?

Joanne: I think anybody that does know me pretty much knows who I am. I mean they know me well enough. There’s nothing that I would think people needed to know particularly about me, but just that we’re here.

Michael: Human. We’re all human and we are out here. But not forever. I refuse to leave this city because of a spike, or a shift in the economic and real estate crisis that we’re having here. I’m just not going to do it. I went through too many years of hell paying rent, paying rent, paying rent and then getting pushed around, and even going to judges. And then getting pushed around by them too and then ending up on the streets. I’m not going to lose. I’m not going anywhere and that’s how I get back in a place to call my own, make a few last songs and then I’ll go. That’s how I feel about it. I’ve been too many years here, too hard of a road, and done too wrong; the road doesn’t end here. Not ‘til I get back in a home again. That’s what it’s really about for me, just sticking it out.

Photo/Robert Gumpert