Jeffrey S. is a man in his 60s currently experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. Jeff grew up in Orange County with a difficult childhood. He shared that his father "was a very cruel man" and saw himself and his brother as "competition" to him. His first memory of his father was him calling Jeff a loser at just 3 years old. Jeff stated that his mother was already preoccupied with his older brother, so she "couldn't care less" about Jeff, and he became the outcast of the family. This caused him to be a very shy child with little socialization skills, other than being the class clown in elementary school.
Jeff worked at a local swap meet from 15-18. He shared that he met his best friend there, also named Jeff, and they were inseparable for some time. However, once his friend got married, he "tossed [Jeff] aside like an old boot" and they have not spoken since.
At 18, Jeff was forced to move out and began experiencing his first period of homelessness. He was sleeping on his girlfriend's parents' couch until they got married when he was 20 and moved into an apartment. Unfortunately, they were unable to sustain this apartment and had to move back in with her parents. Jeff shared that he simply could not stand living with them and just left one day with the clothes on his back. He then moved in with his mom and lived on her couch for some years.
During this time, Jeff had dozens of entry-level jobs that would last anywhere from a week to a couple of months until he would get fired. This became a point of tension when moving in with his second girlfriend (his mom's neighbor) because she wanted him to work and when he didn't, she kicked him out.
This was the start of Jeff's experience with street homelessness. He tried his best to find park benches, garages, warehouses, or anything other than the cold cement floor to sleep on every night. He started working for this man he met by dressing up as a priest and standing in front of storefronts collecting money. Jeff shared that his boss offered this job to many of the homeless individuals in Los Angeles and created quite a large operation in the 80's. Jeff finally saved up enough money to buy a motorcycle and went back to his lifestyle of on-and-off jobs.
At this time, Jeff also joined Co-dependents Anonymous to try and tackle his struggles in relationships. He shared: "I have an attraction for people who are very needy - who will take me on as a project, when in fact all they're doing is feeding their own ego." This has caused Jeff to develop a "victim complex" where he finds himself to be the one hurt in every situation.
After years of on-and-off jobs, Jeff started driving and living in a taxi at 40 while showering at the gym. He continued this job for about 18 years until he moved to Michigan for a truck driving offer. Unfortunately, Jeff was fired from this job after 3 months and had no place to go. Luckily, one of his taxi clients became very close to him and offered him a room in her house in Minnesota. So, he moved there and has been living with her ever since. Jeff still has on-and-off jobs and is trying to get stable on his feet.
Donate to Project WHY today so that we can continue to interview these amazing people! Project WHY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation registered with the State of California & the United States government. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to supporting individuals experiencing homelessness! :)