Steve spent more than 25 years living on the streets, struggling with addiction. After his father died in 2008, he decided it was time for a change. Last year, he came to our Third Street Men’s Shelter, and by April he had joined The Recovery Center. Today he lives at Renewal House, one of Project Renewal’s transitional housing sites. He will soon begin pursuing a counselor’s certificate at Fordham University.
In this Q&A, Steve reflects on being homeless during wintertime.
How would you try to stay warm?
I tried to find places that were heated and had other people. I didn’t want to be isolated. I didn’t trust the shelter system, so I stayed at Port Authority (bus terminal). If I got kicked out, I’d go to Penn Station and try to buy a ticket, which would permit me to sit in the waiting area where it was warm.
What were the holidays like for you?
Holidays for a person living on the streets are just another day. Usually I was just trying to make money to buy drugs. I had no idea what tomorrow would bring, so I tried to squeeze as much joy as possible out of today.
Where were you on New Year’s Eve at the end of 2013?
It was disastrous. I had relapsed and was in the streets, freezing. I was probably trying to purchase crack or get money for it. I was on the treadmill again: moving fast but going nowhere. Fortunately, I went to Project Renewal a couple weeks later and everything started to change.
How about New Year’s this past 2014?
It was great! I cooked a big meal for one of my neighbors at Renewal House. We had ham hocks, beans, rice and cornbread. We both love good food and good company. We gave thanks and reflected on our blessings.