by Steve Pleich

It’s a full-time job being homeless. It’s a full-time job being poor. That’s what those who say the homeless should just go out and get jobs fail to understand.
You already have a job, and that job is surviving. You have to get in line early for food and even earlier for a place to sleep.
You carry everything you own on your back and when your clothes wear out, you spend all your time searching for replacements.
You only have so much energy to expend because you have only so much food to fuel your body. Most of the time, you’re tired and you’re sore and your clothes are damp.
But sometimes at night, you recall who you once were.
You were a kid and played with other kids. You had a mother and a father.
You wanted to be an engineer or a firefighter or an astronaut.
You were loved and loved in return.
You were a family.
And in your darkest imaginings, you could never have seen yourself come to this place.
You are homeless. You are poor.
Steve Pleich is the Director of the Santa Cruz Homeless Persons Advocacy Project

Art by Christa Occhiogrosso
Art by Christa Occhiogrosso