Mike received his shoes from a drop-in centre in Ottawa last month.
What is your biggest struggle with poverty on a daily basis?
“Shelter! I’m staying at the Salvation Army right now. It’s not that bad. I have a bed and a locker. They’ve lined me up with a worker already, too. I’ve nowhere else to stay.”
“I was born and raised here in Windsor. I went with three buddies to Ottawa to look for work. It was a bad time to go there. It rained the whole time. Just across, in Quebec, the whole city of Gatineau was under water, completely flooded. People were evacuated, sandbags were being put down everywhere. It was unreal. I stayed there a month and came back here. Broke.”
“I have family spread out all over this city. They’re doing okay but not well enough to help out others. I had an apartment, but left it to move in with my cousin. We got evicted when we became behind on payments.”
“The Salvation Army isn’t bad. There’s a lounge with a TV. You can’t go into your room until after 4 pm, though.”
What would you like people to know about living in poverty?
“What people need to know is that few people choose to live homeless. The majority—at least 80%—like myself, are actively looking for an apartment. There’s maybe 20% that have given up hope or may have fallen into drugs and aren’t able to get themselves out of homelessness.”
“It’s hard. I might have to sleep on the street again. But, you do meet some interesting people. You can love them so much! Or you can meet people that you will try to avoid. I guess it’s like anywhere else. All types of people. Life on the streets can be very hard in the winter.”
“You’ve got to keep moving and keep looking for anything: an apartment, new friends who can give you a helping hand. I was at the Salvation Army for only one day before they set me up with a worker. I’m hopeful I will have an apartment in one month. It’s possible to change your circumstances.”