Wednesday, August 20, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 3
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What do you regret about your education?

Not learning a foreign language.
Thinking math has no practical purpose after school.
Reducing sex ed to genital memorization.
Nothing at all. I was a preppy, popular, teacher's pet who was beloved by all.

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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.

Mike Masters

Mike Masters moved from Indiana to California with “visions of palm trees and girls in bikinis.”

He left his hometown and headed west because he was getting in too much trouble back there, he said. Once on the West Coast, Masters started working as a truck driver.

He began work in Los Angeles, then moved to Bakersfield before landing on the Central Coast about two years ago. For a while, things were good. He was working. He has two kids still out in Bakersfield. He’s even a grandfather now.

“One of [my kids] made me a grandpa a little too soon,” Masters said.

But a fix-it ticket for his truck was all it took.

He couldn’t pay the ticket, which eventually resulted in an arrest warrant.

“I made the money to pay ’em,” he said. “But I spent it on my kids during Thanksgiving.”

Eventually, he lost his commercial truck license and his job. He began working in a warehouse for a while and at oil fields in Bakersfield—nothing permanent, but something to pay the bills while he tried to get back on the road.

He lost his job and was “pretty much on the curb after that.”

Masters has been homeless for about four years. He moved to San Luis Obispo for a change of scenery, spending a bit of time at Sunny Acres. At the moment, he has a friend who’s letting him camp on a piece of SLO property. But Masters is looking to get back to work.

He’s a self-described handyman, who’s worked on friends’ ranches—landscaping, handling cattle, painting. Masters is looking for something more permanent, maybe a place he can stay for a while and work in exchange. In the long run, Masters wants permanent work, enough to help him get a place of his own, “a little place where the kids can come over,” he said.

“Maybe a second chance. How’s that?”

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