Kim and Chris
Kim, 51, and Chris, 48, came to San Diego on a bus from Detroit.
They met in a “3/4 house” after he’d just gotten out of prison and she was in a drug rehab program. They’ve been together 12 years. She credits him with saving her from a bad situation, making her laugh, feel good about life again.
Chris was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany all four years, with a tour in Bosnia. While he says his military life was nothing like what the soldiers experience in Iraq or Afghanistan, “we all have our demons, we all have things to deal with,” he said. Being a veteran, he hopes the VA can help the two of them get into VASH housing.
His marriage to another service member ended in divorce after ten years and three children. Most of his kids live in the Pacific Northwest and he hopes to see them sometime soon. He thinks his oldest son lies in San Francisco.
Kim’s son overdosed on heroin on Mother’s Day four years ago in her mother’s house. Then her mother died last October after a prolonged illness. Though her other children, now in their 20s, are still back in Detroit, “there are too many ghosts there. The place is haunted for me,” she said. So she has no real intention to go back to Michigan.
After the trauma of losing her son, she sunk into depression. Doctors prescribed one psych med after another till they totaled 23 different prescriptions, all counteracting each other and all causing her to gain weight. She ballooned up to 300 pounds. She had trouble walking and the pain in her joints was unbearable but no one would prescribe her pain killers. So she went back to crystal meth and found her own opiates. “Believe me, the best diet is meth and homelessness. I’m going to write a book: The meth and homelessness diet,” she said.
While folding clean laundry at a Barrio Logan laundromat, they talked about how hard it is to make real friends on the street, and that they’d rather keep to themselves. They said after leaving Detroit and being in Arizona for a few years, their game plan was to come to San Diego then hitchhike up the coast to see Chris’ kids. “I don’t know what we were thinking,” Chris said. “We’ve got nothing to live on except her disability. We don’t know anyone here.”
Kim had researched the homeless situation before coming to San Diego. She’d heard the population was big, but was still shocked by the density of tents and humanity sprawled across downtown sidewalks when she stepped off the bus. People stay once their here, she learned. And they haven’t found a way to leave yet themselves. “We haven’t left San Diego yet,” she said. “I haven’t left downtown.”