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Meet William: From Middle Class to Homeless
My grandmother used to tell me I was one paycheck from living on the street. I used to tell her she was crazy. Not with my income! But now look at me.
William grew up in a happy, middle class family. His parents had good careers and taught him the importance of working hard. Years of hard work paid off for him too, and he was able to create a happy, stable life for his wife and children.
But now, William is homeless.
I used to open the door to my home and see my wife. Now when I open the door, I see 180 other men. It’s not the same.
William lost his job as a maintenance worker 4 years ago. It’s the first time he’s ever been unemployed, but as a 64-year old man it’s been very difficult for him to find work.
He knows what people think when they pass him on the street: Why don’t you just go get a job?
But how are you going to walk into a place, all dirty, with no skills and get a job? Most of us don’t have but a high school diploma. And then we’re supposed to compete for a job?
When William first came to Miriam’s Kitchen, he was shy but determined to find help. We worked with him to secure social security benefits—the only income he has—and apply for much-needed health insurance.
But being homeless has been really hard for William. He's separated from his family (he doesn't want to be a burden on them), and has diabetes and emphysema—conditions that have put him in the hospital three times in the past two years. In fact, he’s there now—recovering from a respiratory illness that put him in the intensive care unit for two weeks.
Two months ago, I was thinking of committing suicide. I couldn’t bear this life anymore. It’s hard to keep my faith when I’ve been out here for so long.
This has been a hard journey for William. Four years of being homeless has taken a toll on him mentally and physically. But he’s trying his best to remain strong.
Asked if he thinks he’ll ever be off the streets, William responded: I know I will.