Stories of Homelessness

To humanize the experiences of the real individuals interviewed, we share four “stories” combining personal experiences shared with us during the Oxford Point-in-Time count. 

Living in a Vehicle—Sylvia is in her late 30s. She sleeps in an RV on another’s private property. She claims to have experienced being homeless her entire life. She suffers from PTSD and depression. It is hard to find work because she does not have a car. Two of her teenaged children stay with her. She was first encountered by our volunteers when she was a student at THS—at that point, her family lived in a Habitat for Humanity home, and one parent was employed by Miami University. She experienced bullying at school. She had dreams of a job but little support to pursue those dreams.

Staying with friends/family—Hank is in his late 50s. He moves from couch to couch in a network of family and friends. Hank has been homeless for more than 3 years. He has a mental health condition. He reported that at age 5, he witnessed his older brother being killed as he was hit by a vehicle. The mental health issues Hank struggles with seem to be clearly linked to that early trauma. He is also dealing with chemotherapy and radiation for a chronic health condition, and is unable to work because of that. One of the couches he sleeps on belongs to his adult child, with whom he is very angry because they have squandered the education that Hank financed throughout his working years.

Living in a motel, paid by a social agency—A mother of 4 children, ages 1-14 years, is in her early 30s. She works and is a full-time college student. Mom hopes to be able to support her family herself in the future by getting a better-paying job. They recently left a domestic violence situation. They are being helped by a service agency, and supported by the Talawanda School District as a McKinney-Vento family, but she is uncertain where they will be going next.

Camping out—Sam is in his early 40s. He and his partner camp out in a tent on wooded private property. He has been homeless for more than three years, and on more than 4 occasions. Sam struggles with alcohol, drugs, chronic physical and mental health conditions, and physical disability. These conditions keep him from holding a job or living in stable housing. He does receive disability benefits. He has previously lived in violent relationships.  Sam has been known for a number of years at TOPSS, and during that time he was frequently on the Family Resource Center property. He was in and out of the relationship with his current partner, the instability of that relationship causing him considerable stress.