Most nights, Frank, 52, sleeps on a bus that has an all-night route. He never gets more than two to three hours of rest at a time. Still, he feels safer than when he’s trying to sleep on the streets.
“The ugliest part about being homeless is when night falls,” Frank said. “This turns into a whole other world. You just don’t feel safe.”
Frank has been homeless off and on since 1986, when he moved to Los Angeles from his native Georgia. He was working and sharing an apartment with his girlfriend when tragedy struck. She was killed, and Frank ended up on the streets.
Battling a drug and alcohol addiction, Frank began a rehab program in San Jose in 1989 that also allowed him to study auto mechanics at Evergreen Valley College. With just one semester to go, he was told the program had ended and he had to leave. He relapsed and got into trouble, serving jail and prison sentences that totaled 10 years.
Frank got a job at a metal works company and met a woman who became the mother of his child. The family was awaiting stable housing when she died of breast cancer in 2006. Frank found himself back on the streets.
Frank is diabetic, and has to inject himself every day with insulin. He also suffers from neuropathy in his feet, a painful condition that limits his ability to stand or walk. He has been sober for six months.
Stable housing will help Frank take care of his health and provide a place for his children -- a son and a daughter, both 13, and a 9 year-old son – to visit him. That’s what keeps him from returning to Georgia.
“He is mine,” he said, holding up a photo of his 13-year-old son. “He looks like me.”
He adds, “I don’t want them to see this part of my life.”
Living on the streets also takes an emotional toll on Frank. He is sad to see homeless children sleeping on concrete. “Even as bad as it gets, I’ve seen other people that have it much worse than I do,” he said.
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