This is my third go around being homeless and flying under the radar. I am blind so I of course don’t have the luxury of being able to hide in a van, (“A Man, a Van, a Plan” Features, March 11) which means I have to be more creative.
The safest thing for me to do before the pandemic was to hang out at one of the 24-hour restaurants near me. Since everything is closed now, pretty much the only way for me to sleep is on BART. I just ride around on the train for a couple hours unless the driver orders people to get off.
Most of the time, they will just take a break for about five minutes and then turn the train right back around so if you go to San Francisco airport, it will just switch right back around and take you to Richmond. My number one fear is that a police officer will mistake me for someone who is loitering or on drugs. A more risky move for me is to sleep at the bus stop benches. The danger is that I never know if an officer might spot me while they are making their rounds.
People always say to me, why don’t you get a social worker or why don’t you go to one of the shelters that offer services? They will not treat me like a human being. Anytime I’ve tried to do that in the past, they automatically want me to attend counseling or take part in one of their job training programs. They assume that I became homeless because of poor choices that I made in my life. The truth is though that bad things do happen to good people. Along with everybody else, I did not ask for this pandemic to shut everything down. I think a lot of homeless people don’t want to come forward about their predicament for similar reasons as mine. They don’t want to be stereotyped. They don’t want to be labeled. A vast majority of us are decent people with loving hearts.