Homelessness Writers and Writing

The New Homeless: Rodger Jacobs, Part 2 – Moving

On Sunday, the Las Vegas Sun ran the second installment of the story of LA writer, Rodger Jacobs
who, like an ever-increasing number of people in America, has been teetering at the edge of homelessness.

In this installment, Rodger— together with his girlfriend, freelance editor Lela Michael—moves from the rental house from which they were evicted, into a week-to-week rental at the Budget Suites of America. The couple hopes to stay at the Budget Suites while they attempt to gather the wherewithal to move back to LA on or around Nov. 15.

In LA, while the cost of living may be higher, Rodger writes that he and Lela have more “reliable social network [in LA] and greater opportunities in general.”

Gathering the needed funds is, of course, the challenge. But the move to the Budget Suites has visibly buoyed Rodger’s spirits. Both he and Lela have picked up some freelance gigs. He has even managed to get his hair cut, the hair cutter a woman at Walmart who confesses to him that she was recently homeless herself.


When you read Part 2, you’ll note that the LV Sun has now instituted a new system of comment moderation. This is due in large part to the flood of unusually vituperative comments the paper received after they ran Part I of Rodger’s story,

One of the things I found astonishing about the hostile comments is that so many people focused with blind fury on the small personal details of Rodger’s dilemma, as if they themselves were entirely foible and error free.

Many commenters also seemed outraged that he’d had the nerve to write about his troubles at all, as if the writing itself constituted some kind of whining, when actually the narratives were examples of skillful and courageous storytelling, particularly in that Rodger made no attempt to sanitize his predicament, but simply told his story as it was, without literary Photoshopping, so to speak.

It should also be noted that, by writing his story for the LV Sun, Rodger was behaving proactively. He was using his talents to fashion the scary circumstances he was living through into an income-producing piece of work—which also has the advantage of shining a light on a larger issue.


These are uneasy times. One in every seven Americans is now living below the poverty line, according to figures released earlier this month. Unemployment rates remain in double digits, with no sign yet of dropping. Kids coming out of college are now routinely doing free internships for extended periods because the paying jobs they assumed would be theirs have vanished.

So maybe all these angry commenters are ranting to keep their own fears at bay. But to do so, they must convince themselves that Rodger’s difficulties are of his own making. That way they can more easily believe the fiction that they could never, ever wind up in a similar predicament.

It is a form of whistling in the dark.

Anyway, read Part 2.

And let us hope that Rodger’s still-precarious situation continues to improve…..and that Rodger continues to share his progress with us in writing.

PS: Joseph Mailander has written more about Rodger Jacobs and the comments here.


  • Celeste, your piece above was moving without being sentimental. Rodger and Lela certainly appreciate your taking up of their cause and airing it to your West Los Angeles readers. I hope some of them respond with donations to help Rodger and Lela make it back to L.A.

  • Roger has expressed he and Lela’s plight with integrity and integrity only. The hostile reactions are indeed perplexing, in fact irrational. I see a collective fear roiling in the entrials of American culture. Is this an expression of that fear?

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