FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

Susan says she is not someone who would ever ask anyone for help.

For years she worked full-time at various jobs, and she was able to purchase a small home in North Surrey.

Then things cracked. Looking after her son, two nephews and her partner’s two children, Susan’s life became overwhelming. A longstanding mental health issue re-surfaced, and her world imploded.

“I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she says. “I packed my truck up with my clothes and my camping gear and I drove away.”

Her nephews had to be placed in government care and her adult son now lives on his own.

That was four years ago.

Suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result from abuse as a child and from an earlier relationship, Susan has been unable to work since.

With no money, she initially lived in her truck with her dog for six weeks, however she now spends most nights couching surfing at friends’ homes or staying with her mother in a fifth wheel in South Surrey.

“Looking back now, I don’t how I managed my life, looking after everyone else and not myself,” she says.

Trying to access transition housing has proven to be difficult with her small dog, but Susan has refused to get rid of her only companion.

“Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address or transportation,” she says. “I don’t give up, but everywhere you go, they just give you another phone number. I don’t want to be on welfare. It’s nothing to be proud of. I want my life back.”

Having worked as a manager at a recovery home, Susan has seen many people caught in the same poverty spiral she now finds herself trapped in.

“People need to realize (the homeless are) not all addicts and when life kicks you down it kicks you hard.”

Susan is currently in counselling.

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Read the other stories in this Leader special report:

• The homeless: It might not be who you think

• ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

• ‘I literally have nowhere to go.’

• ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

• Pushed into despair – and onto the streets

• ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

• ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

• The cost of caring: $7 billion in government services

• ‘ I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

• ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

• Working the NightShift in Surrey

• The solution? In short, more housing







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