Re: Stories wanted

Bonnie Briggs (
Thu, 04 Dec 1997 12:23:17 PST

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>Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 23:27:52 -0500 (EST)
>From: "Bruce D. Burleson" <>
>To: Homeless List <>
>Subject: Stories wanted
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>Hi everyone,
>I am writing a lengthy article on homelessness for the monthly
>newspaper _Socialist Action_.  I'm looking for anecdotes -- people to
>briefly tell their stories about homelessness.
>I will of course, for whatever stories I use, keep them confidential
>when I publish the article, unless you specifically tell me you
>want your name in print.
>Any help with this is greatly appreciated!
>Bruce Burleson
>Young Socialist League

Bonnie Briggs
Hi Bruce,
  I tried to do this yesterday and accidentally erased it. So, here I go 
again. "A brief story"? That's hard but I'll try. My husband and I were 
homeless in 1987. We were living in a basement aptarment in a house. The 
landlord sold the house out from under us and we were told in November 
of '86 that we had until the following March to get a new place. My 
husband was working full-time then. He would come home after work and we 
would go out and spend the whole evening looking for a place to live. We 
had two strikes against us. 1. The vacancy rate was really low. and 2. 
People would not take two people. We searched until the following March 
without success. March came and we were out on the street. at that time, 
we were in North York which is a suburb of Toronto. So, as a result, 
there were no services or hostels to help us. We stayed in motels until 
our money ran out. After that, we slept in bus shelters, the roof of a 
four-story building, apt. stairwells, doorways, abandoned cars, and a 
friend's car. There were many days when we did not eat and/or sleep. it 
was still cold as it was the tail end of the winter. My husband was not 
only working full-time while on the street, but also coaching kids' 
hockey. So, his days were filled, but not mine. We spent the nights 
looking for a place, anything, even a room. But, despite us being 
newly-married, people renting out rooms and apts refused to take both of 
us. Finally, my husband sent me downtown to a womens' hostel because he 
was worried that I wasn't sleeping or eating right. He lived in an 
abandoned car to be close to work. We were apart for a long time. At 
last, he managed to get a room in a rooming house. I moved in with him 
when the hostel told me that I had to be out the next day. We lived 
there for a while and then we moved in with friends. After that, we 
lived in a hotel for a while. We finally moved into an an apt together. 
The day that happened, we made a vow of "never again". So far, we've 
managed to keep that vow. 
  We are now seperated, going towards divorce.(though not because of the 
homelessness). He still lives up in North York. I still live in Toronto 
in a one-bedroom apt. we are still friends and see each other on a 
semi-regular basis. After we came off the street, we documented 
everything that happened to us during our homelessness. We now share 
that story with other people to let them know what life on the street is 
like. 1987 is where the roots of my present Community Work began to 
  Well, there you have it, Bruce. Sorry for the length, but believe me, 
the whole story would be 14 pages long, way too much for your browser. 
If you're interested, Tom has a copy of our story. Thanks for asking me 
to share our story. Hope this is useful. 

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