Last week, I was doing outreach downtown when I came across Ben.
Ben is one of the “oldtimers” – one of several men who have been on the streets for decades. He was friends with all the oldtimers……Ed, Carl, Joseph…..all of whom have passed away over the past year. Ben says he’s one of the few left.
2015 has been a big year for him so far – he finally got housing.
His eyes lit up when he started talking about his new place. “It’s a huge one bedroom! I’ve even got a flat screened TV!”
But as he continued to talk about his apartment, his tone changed… “I don’t know what I’m doing down here….”
“I know I shouldn’t be downtown. I know I shouldn’t be doing this….” He showed me the bottle of rubbing alcohol in his pocket, “But I don’t know what to do. What am I supposed to do?”
Ben’s days used to be comprised of panning change to make money for a drink, and then sharing drinks with friends in the park. Then going to sleep, waking up, and doing it all over again. It may have been unhealthy, but this lifestyle provided 3 important things: routine, purpose and community.
Now he has housing – but what community? What routine? What purpose?