My name is D and here’s my story:
I was 16 years old when I became homeless in St Catherine’s where I was born and raised. The first time I became involved with the Police and the law was when I was 16, and I would say that this was the beginning to my life spiraling downhill. The Niagara Regional Police charged me with Vagrancy C, which means living on the street with no means of support, and was locked up in the Guelph Reformatory for 6 months. When I was released from the Reformatory, I was scared to go back to St. Catherine’s as many people, including the Police, had treated me in a discriminatory way because of my sexual orientation. Because of this, I decided to move to Toronto. I became homeless in Toronto living here, there and everywhere from age of 16-60, although there was a 5 year gap when I spent time at the Joyceville Penitentiary. I slept under bridges, in bus shelters, parks, shelters, drop ins, hotels, and sometimes stayed with friends. Pidgeon Park at Parliament and Gerrard was what I called home for a number of years.
Throughout the years of being homeless I became involved with using and selling drugs and was able to have money to stay in hotels once in a while. I would say that I didn’t like being homeless, but I also liked it! I felt comfortable around other homeless folks in Toronto. I felt like they were my street family. In 1984, 416 Community Support for Women became like a second home to me. I was able to eat, rest, feel part of a community and be safe. In the late 80’s I was able to be a Successful Avon sales woman while still being homeless for 5 years! Throughout my years of being homeless City TV, Toronto Life and Toronto Police did a lot for me. I think that being homeless made me a stronger person. I am a survivor, I am almost 70 and still alive.
In 2009 I became housed after being homeless for four and a half decades. Staying in my own apartment for the first time was like Heaven. I still had an addiction problem but I have to thank 416 for assisting me in moving out of my first apartment building which was a drug haven into a seniors supportive apartment building. It balanced me off and reduced my consumption of drugs. I am still currently residing in this apartment building and continue to enjoy living there. 416 continues to be my #1 support with Case Management, Health care services, food bank, basic supports and a sense of community.
I think that being homeless made me a stronger person. I am a survivor, I am almost 70 and still alive, and have been successfully housed for a decade now.