Thursday, April 24, 2014     Volume: 28, Issue: 39
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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.

Bruce Kopp

From the way Bruce Kopp tells his life story, he’s been on the move ever since he could move.

“My grandmother used to say, ‘You’re gonna be a gypsy all your life.’”

He’s been on the road since June. With his 15-year-old German shepherd chow mix, Charlie Girl, in tow, Kopp has been lugging around a four-foot-wide plastic chest on his back—a homemade backpack of sorts that barely fits through most doors.

For a few years, he was staying at his daughter’s apartment in Phoenix, taking care of the place while she was serving a tour in Afghanistan. Shortly after his daughter returned, Kopp said it got a little too crowded for his taste, so he packed up and hit the road, again.

First he shot up to Fresno, thinking he’d have a job when he got there. But the job fell through before it started, so Kopp got in his car and headed west for the coast.

He totaled his car on Highway 46, heading for San Luis Obispo. It would have cost $5,000 for the repairs, so Kopp instead sold the car to the mechanic for $200 and hitchhiked the rest of the way.

Now he’s sleeping outside the city limits and still hoping to find work. Kopp said he’s always been good with his hands. He’s made his living doing the occasional odd contract job, sometimes in return for a small place to stay. At the moment, he can’t find anything.

“I tried just about everything else except rob a bank,” he joked.

Kopp said he doesn’t drink, smoke, or take drugs. And now, all he really needs is a job, maybe a little room to stay in.

“If I had a safe place to keep Charlie and my stuff, then I could look for work,” he said.

Send offers of assistance to homelessproject@newtimesslo.com.

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