Without a Home: A Good “12, 13 Years Now”

19 May 2022: Anthony Covarrubias – Utah and Alameda.

Name and age: Anthony Covarrubias, 37

Date: May 19, 2022

Place: Alameda and Utah streets

Without a home: “A good 12, 13 years now.”

What does home mean?  

Home is changed for me now.  Initially it was a house with my parents and brothers and sisters, somewhere like warm and safe and clean. Now actually it’s about the same, just on a smaller scale, where my bed is. Where my bed is, that’s were home is.

Is there community?

You have to be very careful because some people use the idea of community to get close to you, to take advantage of you a lot more than in a community that’s not like homeless.

Things and possessions:

I love things and possessions.  I don’t think I’m necessarily like a materialistic person, but maybe something like my guitar that I cherish. I take great care of it. I got a really nice guitar that I hide, and I never bring it out. Living on the street that is a luxury that you don’t get to have anymore.  My girlfriend just got housing and the first thing I think of is I can put my things in your place, you know.  Like they’re not going to get stolen. But that just me.  My girlfriend is the complete opposite, she doesn’t really care about anything, but I love her.  But me, I do like possessions.

What do society’s rules and laws mean to living on the street?

For me, what I think it means for a lot of us is how much you’re willing or not willing to spend time in jail. For me that’s what it comes down to. I hate jail. I’ve been there a lot and I don’t want to go back. The rules and stuff – why does somebody else get to pick them for me is kind a how I think about them a lot.  I know I’m rebellious, but why do you get to choose what I can do or not, especially with drugs and stuff like that.  It really bothers me when it gets in the way of like with family. I think if a parent has problems with their kid because they’re using drugs, but more because they’re breaking the law type of thing. I just can’t believe sometimes that the law is thicker than blood type of deal. For a long time that happened with my family and that’s why I feel that way.  But after so long my parents, they’ve changed a lot with me and now I think they accept me for who I am.

I don’t ever call the police but there have been times that I thought it would be nice if I could, but I can’t.  I’m a pretty easy-going person but being on the street I’ve had to be a lot more violent, a lot more often, than I ever wanted to be.  It’s come to be a weekly, daily basis I’m getting into a fight with somebody or something. That is really frustrating and tiresome.  

I’ve only been in San Francisco for a year on the street. Originally, I’m from Los Angeles and there are different dynamics, definitely. With San Francisco being more concentrated I think you have more people bumping into each other, rubbing each other the wrong way.

LA is humongous.  What I love about San Francisco, the bus system.  Awesome, great!

Are there different rules on the street for the unhoused between LA and SF?   Well, you know, yes.  In a way LA seems to be more enforced.  San Francisco, what I’ve noticed, is people (the unhoused) are lenient on delivering punishment to people that do talk to the police, and stuff like that. With people that associate with people (that they shouldn’t) and I know in LA that’s unacceptable.  [In LA] you pay “taxes” [to the gangs] if you’re selling in their area.  You definitely have to pay to them if they are controlling or enforcing.  But LA’s so big you can squeeze by a lot of times without them even noticing that you’re there.