Thursday, April 17, 2014     Volume: 28, Issue: 38
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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.

Susan Perez

For Susan Perez, finding work has always been difficult. She dropped out of school decades ago, when she was in just 7th grade. The work she could find was physically demanding, but she was happy to have it.

For a while, she provided in-home care for a retired officer from Atascadero State Hospital. He suffered from mobility impairment and needed help with just about everything, so Perez was able to live at the house.

It was a nice set up, until the man died, and Perez had nowhere to go. Her situation was further complicated by a back injury that makes heavy lifting impossible to this day.

In the 10 years since, she’s lived with friends and in tents by the creek. Recently, she and her boyfriend were able to get an RV, but they’ve got nowhere to park it.

“It seems like a huge step up. I thought we’d be in better shape, but we get hassled more with the RV,” Perez said. “We’re thinking about going back to the creek when it’s warm.”

Perez said she gets a small income from Social Security and that she would gladly do gardening and light house work in exchange for a place to park her RV. She could also play chauffer for people who need help running errands.

With a little stability, Perez believes she and her boyfriend could establish a normal live for themselves.

“I’m so tired from the way we’ve been living,” Perez said. “I just want to get a roof over our heads so we can get old, be quiet, and play with our dog together.”

Send offers of assistance to homelessproject@newtimesslo.com.

 

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