By Teeamarrie Lewis
February 20, 2019 (Lakeside)-- Hello, my name is Teea and I have been homeless in Lakeside for the past three years but have lived here for 30 years. I am not here by choice, I am clean, looking for work with no success but I have seen more problems in this community than they want to let on. In my years of being a homeless citizen I have gained family, lost loved ones, and have lost almost all hope for the human race. When it comes to compassion it seems that there is more stereo types made than there is a realistic version of what is really going on. I am here to try to debunk the stereo type of the Lakeside homeless community.
I will try my hardest to explain as much as I can without boring you. When referring to the river bottom, there is a river/river trail that runs through the outside of town. There are around 25 people living in downtown Lakeside, this means near the main street and not near the borders. All these people range from the age of 23 to 60's. All but a few have lived in Lakeside for over 10 years, if not their whole life. But have no say on what goes on in the community or given a chance to express what they feel may help the community as a whole.
Everyone that I have talked to about a housing program called "bridge housing" I gave two choices, 1: live in a motel in your own room for two years paid, 2: have a piece of property that you can stay on safely with the other members of the homeless community with rules, a basic shelter, one way of power, and one or two shared bathrooms. They all chose the second option as their primary. When asked why they all replied," This is the only family I have, I don't know what I would do without them." In some way this was the answer given. The Lakeside downtown homeless community is a family, and have more love for each other than their own families have for them.
The problem we are seeing now is of course the trash problem, this was brought up in the last community meeting done almost a month ago and it seems as though I have been the only person buying and handing out trash bags and picking them up when full to be disposed of properly. The solution was fairly easy in getting the river bottom community a way to throw their trash away and when going to the help center for more clothing to please bring some in. Now the help center in town has already put their part into motion and all the homeless have agreed and started to bring in bags of cloths for new. However there has been no advance in the ways of us throwing our trash away from the river bottom legally. When you think about it, every one of these people must pick up and move every week to every other week after being served with a two/three day notice (depending on who hands them out), with no way of cleaning up or throwing away the trash. To better put it, cleaning your house weekly with no trash can, dumpster, or trash bags.
I feel that the way the Lakeside community used to be is now gone. Growing up in Lakeside I used to see everyone knowing everyone, helping everyone, and loving everyone, no matter where they were. When someone became homeless or was struggling to stay afloat their neighbors and friends and other people of the town would jump in and help get them a job. I have seen most of the homeless community my whole life growing up here and I hope that something can be done soon to help them before it's too late and the ones that need it the most leave this world before my eyes again.