Friday, December 19, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 21
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New Times / Community

The Homeless Project

At New Times, we believe that homelessness is not a problem that can be attacked with money or plans. When we think of homelessness, we don't think of statistics; we think of people. We think of people who've had problems in their lives, and they all have a story to tell. We believe that common sense is the only way we'll ever come close to ending homelessness. This is our common-sense approach, and these are their stories.

Robert Jackson

The older you get, the harder it is to get back on your feet,” Robert Jackson lamented.

Jackson was released from prison in February of this year and has been on the streets since he got out. He had never been homeless in his life, but a week after his release, with nowhere else to go, he turned up in the local homeless shelter. But he said he caught bronchitis during his brief stay there. Since then, he has preferred to live on the street. He frequents the Prado Day Center for showers and meals, but he never stays long, saying the environment of hopelessness gets to him.

 

They’re like zombies,” he said, describing the others who use the center’s facilities, many of them in need of mental help.

 

Jackson isn’t the kind to panhandle downtown or sit by the side of the road with a cardboard sign. He said he needs to find transportation, work, and a place to live—in that order.

 

He’s able to provide landscaping, maintenance, and housekeeping assistance. He’s also looking for someone willing to donate (or sell cheaply) a car or truck, which would help him in securing a job.

 

It’s not that I’m lazy or anything,” he insisted, “but now that Cal Poly’s back, they are taking all the jobs.”

 

Indeed, many local businesses are much keener to a hire fresh-faced, able-bodied college student over a street-dwelling older gentleman with a shady past—no matter how badly the latter might want to turn his life around.

 

Jackson has struggled with drugs in the past, but as of this January, he said proudly, he’ll have been clean eight years.

 

I’m 63 years old,” he shrugged. “I just want to kick back and enjoy the rest of what I have in this life.”

 

Send offers of assistance to homelessproject@newtimesslo.com.

 

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