Ronald Dieringer said he was on his own at just five hours old, and spent 18 years bouncing through group homes.
When he legally became an adult, he joined the Navy and was eventually deployed to Iraq for the first Gulf War, he said. His best friend was shot in the head and killed before his eyes, and Dieringer chokes back tears when he recalls the day it happened.
In the time since, Dieringer has traveled around the country, occasionally stopping off on the Central Coast. Most recently, he was living on a few acres in Tennesse when his disability payments cut off and he lost everything but the clothes on his back.
So Dieringer headed for Georgia and hopefully warmer climates.
“First thing you learn when you become homeless, for survival, is go someplace warm,” he said.
But he got stuck in one of the worst winters for the state, and spent his time there panhandling long enough to buy a bus ticket to Santa Barbara, where he spent some time before coming north to San Luis Obispo.
Now he’s living in a tent, subsisting on about $800 a month—minus payments that go to the mothers of his two children, he said—and spending most of his money on a gym membership so he has a place to shower and hygienic products like soap and shampoo.
And when he can, Dieringer hopes to continue his gender reassignment therapy. As a self-identified transgender, Dieringer said he started taking hormones just before he became homeless.
He’s also looking for work. Dieringer said he has experience in construction, mechanics, and business management.
“I’ll take anything,” he said. “At least a stepping stone, a chance.”
He’s also hoping for a trailer where he’ll have a safe place for his dog, Chance, and ideally some form of transportation, even if it’s just a bike with a trailer.
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