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

Man surrenders peacefully to police after 7-hour standoff at Ladner home

Man had entered the home against his court-ordered conditions

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Lee Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

A Mother’s Wish: Ryan Shtuka’s mother wants her son to be ‘forever known’

‍‍‍‍‍“Let me tell you a story …. it all began with a boy named Ryan”

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Most Read