words and photos by Lisa Kane
My interview this week shows that sometimes homelessness is caused by a snowball effect. Scott held down a job for years. He isn’t an alcoholic. He isn’t dealing with drug addiction or mental illness. He isn’t disabled. He just had a bunch of bad circumstances happen to him.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Age: 55 years old
Hometown: Medina, OH
Lisa: What brought you to Akron?
Scott: Being homeless brought me to Akron. [I’m] trying to find work and start over.
Lisa: What is your occupation or source of income?
Scott: I have no source of income right now.
Lisa: Do you ever panhandle to get money?
Scott: I just can’t do it. I’ve worked my whole life. It’s really hard to stand on a corner and beg for money. I just can’t get myself to do it.
Lisa: Did you have a previous occupation?
Scott: I was a machinist. I worked for the same shop for thirty years.
Lisa: Why don’t you have “a job?”
Scott: That’s a good question! One of the main problems I have getting a new job is transportation.
Lisa: How long have you been homeless?
Scott: For one year.
Lisa: What lead you to homelessness?
Scott: Divorce [and] losing my house. It all just snowballed.
Lisa: Do you have family around?
Lisa: Where did you sleep last night?
Scott: At the tent city on Broad Street. (The tent city was formerly known as Second Chance Village and is now called the Homeless Charity Village).
Lisa: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Scott: Around five or six hours.
Lisa: Do you usually have three meals a day?
Lisa: Do you feel safe?
Scott: There (at The Homeless Charity) I do.
Lisa: What is your biggest fear?
Scott: Reality. The reality of my life right now. I never thought I’d be in a situation like this.
Lisa: What can people find you doing during the day?
Scott: Just walking the streets.
Lisa: What are some of your daily struggles being homeless?
Scott: Trying to stay positive. Fighting the depression of what’s happened to you.
Lisa: What three words would you use to describe being homeless?
Scott: Reality, depression and hopefulness.
Lisa: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the homeless?
Scott: That we are all lazy and don’t want to work. I think about 70% of people look down on the homeless.
Lisa: Do most people show you kindness or treat you rudely?
Scott: Oh, there’s a lot of kindness here in Akron! There are a lot of people who care and help. A lot of churches.
Lisa: What does the word “home” mean to you?
Scott: A house, family, a fireplace [and] a garden.
Lisa: Is there anything else you want people to know about you, or about being homeless?
Scott: Being homeless, you get in this rut that becomes hard to get out. Like I said before, I have no transportation and that is a huge problem. I’m not disabled. I want to work. But right now I’m in this slump [and] it’s just really hard to get out of.
Lisa Kane has been on the board of the Akron Snow Angels for several years and frequently meets and talks to the homeless community in Akron.
Akron Snow Angels are a volunteer-run charity whose mission is to “Spread the Warmth.” Volunteers help the most vulnerable in the Akron area by providing basic essentials like hats and coats, along with fostering compassionate friendships. Learn more at akronsnowangels.com.