FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

Michael, 43, remembers having his first drink at seven years old.

His father worked in the oil industry and the family lived in various Middle Eastern countries when Michael was a child.

“The first time I drank openly in front of my parents I was 10 years old,” says Michael. “My parents were alcoholics and they felt if we were going to drink they would prefer we drank at home where we were safe.”

As a young man, when life became difficult, Michael he struggled to cope. Losing a job or a relationship caused severe anxiety.

“I lost my brother, my mother and my father to alcohol and drug addiction – all in a very short time,” he says. “I felt lost.”

When he could no longer pay rent on his basement suite he took his belongings and began camping in a Surrey park. He was fearful of shelters and distanced himself from those trying to help.

After about a month of “urban camping,” a friend who owned an auto repair shop in Newton let him sleep in some of the cars on his lot. Michael lived that way for nine months.

Eventually he overstayed his welcome and was asked to move on.

He got by with help from Sikh temples that offered him food up to three times a week.

In an attempt to stave off trench foot, a painful ailment caused by wearing the same wet socks for weeks, Michael would often wash his socks in the bathrooms of various fast food outlets.

“When you’re homeless, you beat yourself up 10 times more than the average person,” he says. “You know there’s a better way, but you can’t seem to live up to your own moral codes.”

It was during one of his trips to McDonalds one morning that he met a man who offered to help him.

“He took me to an (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting and that got me started in recovery,” he says. “I wasn’t even drinking at that time. I couldn’t afford alcohol. Remembering my last days on the street keep me on the right path today.”

Michael has been in treatment at Trilogy Recovery House in Surrey for two years.

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

• ‘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

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

B.C. serves up $6.3 million boost to province’s respite program

The announcement, in Surrey, aims to give parents of special needs children a break

Schedule released for South Surrey-hosted Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier

Canadian national women’s fastpitch team to open tournament against Cuba

Biting and jumping are paw-sitives when raising a police dog puppy

18-week-old Maya is training with Delta police to one day take a bite out of crime

OUR VIEW: Sometimes, Surrey, it’s hard not to get riled by rules

Imagine life without rules. We wouldn’t have to pay taxes, or eat our broccoli

Nominate someone now for 2019 Surrey Community Leader Awards

Easy online form for nominations in 11 categories, with reception planned this fall

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

North Delta happenings: week of July 18

Events and community listings for North Delta

Missing Vancouver Island woman believed to be on mainland

Rhonda Stevenson, 43, last seen July 13 in central Nanaimo

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Missing Greater Victoria man last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Jonah Donato, 40, travelled to the mainland in June

Most Read