'Why do you hate me': a homeless man from Los Angeles wrote a frank letter to the residents of the city
Keanakai Scott cried when she read the news of a public meeting about the proposed shelter and permanent housing for the homeless. One of the local homeowners who attended the meeting said that, in his opinion, the authorities should create a “reservation” for the homeless “somewhere in the desert.” Writes about it LAist.
Scott has been homeless for about ten years. She said this story “broke” her.
“I went to my curator, and asked:“ I am a man. What have I done to make these people hate me? ”
Scott decided to write an open letter to people who oppose being homeless in their neighborhoods. It was published as the point of view of the homeless regarding their future fate.
Dear NIMBY (not in my back yard),
My name is Keanakai and I am not welcome in your quarter.
I am twenty eight years old. I have two children, they are 5 and 9 years old. I study at the University of Pennsylvania. I work full time and have been homeless for the past ten years. If you are wondering why I have been homeless all my adult life, this is because I grew up in a foster family.
When I turned 18, I had to leave my family-type orphanage. I was a high school student without any special skills, I had to take care of myself, which I had never done before. Others had a mom, dad, aunts, uncles or grandparents, I had no one. There was no one to guarantee that I would go to college. No one will take me to the grocery store and teach me how to buy groceries. No one showed me how to cook. Nearby there is no one who would teach to pay bills and loans. No one explained how to fill out a job application or how to apply for an apartment rental.
You declare that I have no right to live here just because I have not had stability for the last ten years. I even recently read that I need to be sent to a “reservation” in the desert, where I and the rest of the homeless population of my city can get the help we need.
Local shelters are overpopulated and I have to sleep outside.
They do not accept me in the city, because I have been misbehaving all my life and resorting to drugs for self-medication.
They don’t love me because you “pay taxes”, and I “don’t care” about myself, and I “made my choice”.
Here are some questions for you. How could I stop myself from becoming homeless? How could I stop my family from expelling me simply because I was eighteen? How could I get the Los Angeles County Courts to make sure my foster families did not teach me life skills? How could I, as a child, know that I would need them? How could I convince my doctors to recognize my behavior as chronic PTSD, and not the multiple personality disorder they diagnosed with me, which led to years of dependence? How can I get someone to give me a place to live when, working full time, I don’t get enough money to pay half the rent even in the worst neighborhoods in my city?
Nevertheless, you shout: “Only not in our quarter!”
In fact, you say that the homeless are not people, and we are not worthy of your compassion.
You say that homeless people do not deserve the opportunity to get the right diagnosis so that they can have a chance of recovery and stability.
You say that homeless people do not deserve access to proper health care.
You say that the homeless do not deserve the right to cleanliness and food from the garbage can.
You say that women who find themselves on the street because of physical or sexual abuse do not deserve security.
You say that foster children who grow up outside the system and automatically find themselves homeless do not care about themselves.
I am working. I pay taxes. I'm going to college. I help my community. I obey the law. I do my best to teach my daughters everything that no one taught me.
What else can I do to convince you that I care about myself?
You shout “Just not in our quarter!”, And then you return to your own house, open the refrigerator, do something to eat for yourself, take a warm shower and forget about everything.
We do not have such luxury - forget about everything. Our tents, cribs and car rear seats are constant reminders that you hate us. We deliver inconvenience to everyone.
It is our life. Everyday. This is our future. And the future of our children. This is life and death for many of us.
Not only did I never have my own home, I never had my own room. I have always been a guest - in shelters, on someone else's couch, and even in someone else's car. I work full time, but my salary is still not enough, so I have to work hard to buy food. They didn’t give a damn about me and called me differently because of the desire to feed my daughters. I got hungry because I didn’t have enough money to feed at least them. In the restaurants in which I worked, I ate the remains of the dishes of visitors.
You will probably be surprised, but after going through all this, I have kept hope.
I hope that someday things will get better.
I hope that one day I will receive the help that I so desperately need.
I hope that my children will never live the way I lived.
Hope carried me forward. I finally got to the Alexandrian House, a shelter in Los Angeles, in which they helped me begin to heal from an injury received in a foster family, to correctly diagnose. I gained the stability necessary to get a permanent job.
You judge me for having children, for helping me. You hate me for striving for stability, which you take for granted. You make me perform to prove my worth. But you still deprive me of the opportunity to find affordable housing.
And why? Because you liked to look the other way when you saw me on the street? Because you was aesthetically unpleasant? Or is it just because I'm uncomfortable, and your discomfort is enough to deprive a person of the American dream?
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