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My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless…… Part V

July 10th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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NOTE: This is part of a continuing series on long-time WitnessLA commenter, Richard LoCicero, who, due to a series of circumstances (and unbeknownst to his online friends and sparring partners) has for the past few years been homeless—living first in his car and then more recently on the street in Orange County. For the full series click here.

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When he can, Richard has been sending me some bits and pieces detailing the sequence of events in his life that led to his present condition of homelessness. Yet, over the weekend, while I was waiting for him to send me a bit more on that part of his story, I sent Richard an e-mail with a whole other list of questions:

1. Where do you sleep? And what are the difficulties in securing a good place to sleep?

2. What time must you wake up? Are there regulations about sleeping on the sidewalk? (There are in LA.)

3. Then where do you go to spend the day?

4. How do you get food? Are the soup kitchens good? Accessible?

5. What about clothing?

6. You stay very up to date on the news, is this just from online reading? Or do you have other methods?

7. What about books: You’re a very literary person,
a lover of words, do you do much non-news reading?

8. Who are your friends on the street? Is there much in the way of community?

Here is his reply:

I’m going to postpone for a later day the story of how I got here to answer some questions that Celeste posed to me about my current “Lifestyle” (hey this is SoCal – everyone, even the homeless, have lifestyles!)

Let’s start with the basics. Where do I sleep when I’m not under a roof? Well, the answer is simple. Wherever I can. I find a bench somewhere and just lie down. I use a bag of clothes as a pillow and catch a few winks. I can’t really sleep soundly as I have to watch out for the cops. Most places down here frown on sleeping rough so you can get a ticket. Yes, I know its rather futile to ticket someone who has no money and threaten with a fine but who said municipal government was sensible.

[WLA: The LAPD has this same practice of issuing tickets to the Skid Row homeless for sleeping on the street after a certain hour. Most often than not, the tickets go to warrant, meaning that eventually the man or woman will spend a few days behind bars as a guest of the County.]

Shelters? Well there aren’t that many for men and they fill up fast.

[WLA: According to OC statistics, there are 30,000 homeless who need a place to sleep on any given night, but there are less than 900 emergency shelter beds in the entire county.]

Frankly I’d have to spend all day waiting and that would limit the rest of my activities. So I risk the cops. I also sleep on buses. I pick the longest routes and use the OCTA as a rolling bedroom.

Anyone who remembers the book (and later Jules Styne musical) “Subways are for Sleeping” knows this idea. Trouble with all this is, I’m usually always very tired. And sluggish. And that’s why these ruminations can seem disjointed. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate when you’re half asleep.

So how do I spend my days? In the library. I used to go to more than one library when I had a car. But now I’m, more or less, stuck to the few near a bus stop. So, bye, bye, Newport Beach Public Library – a shame since they’re very good. But the OCPL isn’t too bad and there is plenty to read.

More soon.

Posted in Homelessness, public assistance, Public Health, Street Stories | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Rebel Girl Says:

    Thanks for this, Richard and Celeste.

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