Dennis worked all his life and in his senior years the only option for retirement is homelessness


Invisible People


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- [Mark] Dennis. - Yes. - [Mark] We're here in a park. - Yes. - [Mark] In Glendale, and you're homeless. - Yes I am. - [Mark] How long have you been homeless? - Uh going on four months now, four and a half months. - [Mark] And if I remember right, this is your first time ever being homeless. - Yes it is. - [Mark] Gosh, and you're like, this is retirement years for you. - Yes it is, I'll be 60 in July. - [Mark] And your retirement is homelessness. - That's what it has turned out to be. - [Mark] It's just horrible. - I am disabled, so I'm having to fight with SSI about getting my disability. I'm on an RS, Recovery Services and they give me a little bit of money to live off of, and that's about it, but it's not enough for a man to live off of for a whole month. - [Mark] So how do you survive? Where are you sleeping, where'd you sleep last night? - We slept on the church patio. - [Mark] There's a bunch of you that hang together. - We do, it's safety. - [Mark] Safety in numbers. - Because these guys, some guys go around and wait until you're asleep then they rat pack your locations, steal what they can. So sometimes someone stays up at night. Every time I hear a noise, I pop up, take a look around. You know, because we do have women with us also. - [Mark] It's not safe being homeless. Besides being horrible, it's not safe. - It's not safe on the street anywhere, you know, especially homeless. I used to make fun of the homeless until I became one. - [Mark] Wow. - And it was um, you know, really a mind-opener to me. - [Mark] So you went from your apartment into the winter shelter. - A nice condo. Um. A divorce, then I rented a room, and then I came down with epilepsy and started having seizures and the guy didn't want me there and the next thing I know, I was in an assisted living house and Social Security wasn't paying for it. It turned out it was coming out of my pocket, and it was costing me $1,500 a month just for a bed, and then they lowered it to $1,200. I just couldn't afford it anymore. My wife called the shelter over here in Glendale, and brought me over here and dropped me off. - [Mark] Wow, wow. And so when the shelter closed, it was your first night homeless. - Yeah, out in the street, yeah. - [Mark] What was that like? - Besides when I was a kid, it was kinda scary, where to go, what to do. You walk into a store, you can't use the bathroom, or a restaurant, you can't use the bathroom. And then you hear the people in Glendale, they're always complaining about the homeless did this, the homeless did that, you know, we walk around the park in the day time sometimes, or we just sit and read, and we'll pick up garbage and things like that. It's not our garbage, but we'll still pick it up, just to have something to do and show that we appreciate the maintenance people here. So they don't harass us or tell us to move on like most people do. - [Mark] Wow. So what's your future like? - Well, right now it's pretty dim, but uh, I've always kinda plugged along. I've got a ticket to answer to on Wednesday the 27th and that's for an open container, and the container wasn't even mine. Someone had just handed it to me, said "put it down, "the police are behind you," I put it down, but he said "well it's on your hands so it's yours." So I gotta answer to that, and they I start psychiatric um meetings on the fourth of next month. - [Mark] So hopefully that will lead to some housing. - Yeah, hopefully, and also depression. - [Mark] You know, the Boomers, you know, and you're the boomer generation, or hitting, you know, your senior years. - Yeah. - [Mark] And there's no low income housing. - No, let one of these guys that are making six figures a year and buying boats and buying, you know, this, that, and the other thing. Let them lose their job and see how fast that savings dissipates. I went through a ton of money in about four months, five months, paying the assisted living and paying bills from my ex-wife and helping her out, and now there's no one to help me out, except for, you know, the winter shelter. Did a great job, gave me a warm place to sleep at night, decent food, and they-- - [Mark] And now they're closed. - Yeah, now they're closed, it's-- - [Mark] No place to go. - No, and then the citizens, I mean, they call us bums, we're not bums. Some of these people out here are mental patients, they need help. Some of them are alcoholics, and some are guys who they just gave up on. - [Mark] It's tough being homeless sober. - Yeah, and some are just guys that are just down on their luck and they've had it. You know, why am I, what am I, I went from a $20 an hour job and the best job I could get was like $7.50, $7.80, something like that. I said "you gotta be kidding me." - [Mark] Nobody's hiring, nobody's hiring seniors. - No no no, you know, people should look, people should look in the newspapers and I remember four or five years ago, you look in the LA Times, say if you were a nurse, there'd be six pages of hospitals looking for nurses. Now, you might be lucky if there's a column and a half. - [Mark] Is that what you did? - No, I was a-- - Using it as an example. - Customer service representative. - [Mark] Okay, great, well thank you, well, if you had three wishes, what would they be? - Uh, to know then what I know now. To have another chance at life again with my ex-wife and have my family together. And that this is just a jumping-off point to a better life. - [Mark] Well thank you very much for talking to me. - Thank you, Mark.