I have a great privilege being able to finally go back to school. I am studying to be a Medical Assistant. As is my nature as a very talkative, inquisitive person I came to find out that one of my fellow students who is going to school to be a L.M.T *licensed massage therapist* is currently homeless. I asked if I could interview her for this blog and she said “Yeah sounds great!” Here is the conversation we had. It makes me sad, angry, and hopeful all at the same time.
Me: How long have you been homeless?
L: I’ve been homeless for two years.
Me: What are some of the challenges that you face?
L: The stress of trying to find a place to sleep, not having anywhere to put your stuff, and being vulnerable to people who can hurt me.
Me: Like who? Who would hurt you?
L: You’d be surprised, men who want something in return for “giving” you a place to stay… And shelters, I’ve had some bad experience with shelters. There’s a real stigma even from staff in shelters when you have a mental illness. I suffer from depression and anxiety so it’s hard for me. I feel like they are judging me, maybe looking down on me rather than just judging. Most all the shelters in Spokane are for men and the ones for women are religious. I don’t feel safe there.
Me: What are some of the barriers to getting housing right now?
L: School is kinda a barrier right now. I have to be here instead of making appointments for housing assistance. And as I said before my depression is a barrier, and the most painfully obvious one is I don’t have any money. I have really good credit, but I’ve never had a place of my own before.
Me: What kind of things do you see as a homeless person in Spokane that they are doing well?
L: They have a lot of places that feed you. I’m never hungry. That’s a good thing. *she laughs* But really they should have a shelter for LGBT people. That would be great.
Me: You are seriously my hero for being here every day and not missing any school.
L: Whatever I’m just trying to better myself so I can get a job, so I can get my own place.
Me: Why did you choose massage?
L: I want to help people feel better. To take away their pain.
We talked for a bit more about the weather and how she hates the snow. And we laughed. The thing that we as a society forget the most about “The homeless” is that they are PEOPLE. Homelessness is not a personality trait. It’s a situation.
Written by Emilie Crossley
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