I have been experiencing homelessness since October 1, 2018.
I lost my job in 2017, have been unable to find work, and depleted my savings - much of that going to an ongoing custody battle to retain my parental & visitation rights for my daughter Chloe. I had been struggling for awhile but my life devolved into a catastrophic train wreck last year.
Most charitable organizations, both private and public, are aimed more at folks with exacerbating factors. I am not battling any addictions or coping with mental health issues; just a business executive who lost his way. Bad luck, poor judgement, unfortunate timing - pick one. But know the bottom line is it's my fault, I caused this more than anyone. There's no upside in assigning blame or making excuses. In some ways, my life has fallen through the social safety net. Both parents are deceased, siblings are self-sufficient but cannot share the burden, no immediate family in the area, and no programs that address chronic unemployment/underemployment. But life is a do it yourself project; ultimately, if it's to be, it's up to me.
I have been through some desperate times in the last 32 weeks. Friends from church would let me couch surf or sleep on an inflatable mattress from time to time, but I've tried to limit how much I take advantage of their generosity so as to not strain precious relationships. I spent the majority of the winter riding subway trains, and became something of an expert on which train lines are safest and which ones will afford the fewest disturbances from MTA & NYPD. Most days I was on my feet 16+ hours and walked about 12-20 miles per day.
In February, as I do every year, I volunteered all four weeks to participate in the Don't Walk By outreach program. Over the entire month, we canvass the city looking for our Friends living on the Street, and bring them in for a hot meal and various medical and other services. On that last Saturday, I lost my wallet (fell out of my pocket riding a bike), and with it ALL forms of identity. My drivers license, Social Security card, debit cards, medical benefits card, et al.
At that point (5 full months into living as a street person), I finally submitted to seeking help from social service organizations. I was wary - scared would be more precise - of staying in shelters, but I needed to humble myself and start getting some help. It took a LONG TIME to do the simplest of things. 25 days to replace my debit card (multiple SNAFUs), another three weeks to obtain a birth certificate from Michigan, almost a month to replace my Social Security card. Countless delays and bureaucratic b.s. every step of the way. Incredibly frustrating.
I have been saying for 3-4 years I want to spend the last third of my life ameliorating homelessness, and looked forward to the day I left commerce to serve the neediest cases. Let me tell you, I thought I understood the issues that our friends on the street face, but what an incredible blessing it has been to learn first hand about these common struggles (proper ID, finding shelter, trying to stay healthy.) The depth of my understanding and increased empathy have made this an incredibly blessed journey. DISCLAIMER: I'm not recommending anyone try on homelessness as a side hustle; tbh, it's brutally difficult, no matter how much positivity and energy you possess, it wears on you, it has cumulative effect that causes personal trauma.
But believe me when I tell you there is purpose, there is meaning to what I have gone through and continue to fight through.
The provision God has provided through others generosity has been nothing short of miraculous. Jehovah-Jireh is one of many Hebrew names in the Bible for the Father, and He has never failed me yet. He built a hedge of protection around me, so that no weapon formed against me ever prospered. He appointed angels over me to watch over me, send kind hearted friends and strangers my way, to always keep me out of harms way.
It'll probably still be awhile until my life fully stabilizes, but headed in the right direction, I'm getting better, making progress. I would say "I'm getting stronger" but that's not really it at all. I'm actually trying to get weaker; I find true peace lies in not relying on my own understanding, truly believing God has established my steps because I delight in Him, and fully trusting He is working everything out for good. Present circumstances or the recent past are not foreshadows of what is to come. The past does not equal the future. Forgiveness, healing, hope, life, restitution and restoration are the watchwords of my life. The One who SPOKE and world's came into existence, to Him who holds this world together by the power of His word, He is able. My God is able. He is a miracle worker and He is madly in love with you. I know He has my best interests in heart, and I trust in only Him.
If you can help in any way, we would be very grateful. God bless.
- JP Laqueur
- Be Blessed
- Linda La