First time I was homeless I was 14 years old. I was kicked out of the house. There were 7 of us kids—I was the oldest. My dad died when I was 6, my mom when I was 12. My mom’s brother took us in but I wouldn’t obey the rules. The choice was obey or get out. I couldn’t do it—I was tired of doing everything.
I worked at a pizza parlor. My boss helped me get an apartment in Bridgeport. I dropped out of my first year of high school; got into trouble at 16 and got locked up. I was behind bars from age 20-28. When I got out my life totally changed. I could fix anything. I got a job building houses until I got injured—6 herniated discs. I got on disability. I’ve had housing on and off since then.
On September 1, 2016, I moved back to Uptown and set up a tent under the Lawrence Avenue viaduct on Lake Shore Drive. I’d heard about Uptown Tent City and I wanted to totally get involved; got a propane stove and tank and I started cooking for the community. Set up a storage tent to keep things for survival purposes. There were about 25 of us under Lawrence viaduct and about 20 under Wilson.
I got elected mayor of Tent City. I’m always helping people. In February I bought 6 cases of propane and took it to Tent City. We had heaters. I got a fire extinguisher because we’ve had tents catch on fire.
We have couples out here. They separate couples in shelters. People want to stay with family members. We help each other. I’m homeless but I’m happy. I’m doing what I enjoy doing: helping people.