Alexis, a 33-year-old homeless heroin addict, advised me she had a boyfriend once I met her sitting outdoors a tenting tent in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood final month.

Alexis and the 53-year-old man who calls himself Wizdom Williams, had been sharing the tent arrange on Mission Road, a location she stated could be everlasting for only some days earlier than police scooted them away.

She did not mince phrases once I requested her, “What’s courting like if you’re dwelling on the streets?”

“You are feeling like two practice wrecks,” stated Alexis, who grew up in San Francisco and attended Pepperdine College earlier than being sucked right into a crippling life of medicine and habit. “It appears like a practice wreck junkyard, since you’re courting another person who additionally would not have housing. You by no means plan for it.”


Wizdom stated he wanted to sleep subsequent to a lady at evening for heat. He advised me a narrative about how whereas he was serving within the U.S. Military, he fell into an ice gap in Antarctica and feeling chilly triggers PTSD signs. He additionally stated Alexis is not his solely girlfriend.

Welcome to courting on the streets of San Francisco.

For a collection on homelessness, I have been asking folks with out housing questions, from “How did you find yourself on the streets?” to “What’s the most effective factor that occurred to you final week?”

These are questions that do not get requested in authorities surveys and assist present a glance into the on a regular basis lives of individuals many people stroll by in San Francisco.

For this latest installment, I talked to 20 folks about courting and homelessness, and whereas half stated it is unattainable on the streets, the opposite half shared tales of relationships or stated they’re open to assembly somebody.


This homeless man was excited to speak about his new relationship with a lady who, like him, is making an attempt to construct a life off the streets.

“I met my girlfriend by a corporation referred to as Downtown Streets Crew. They pay you with reward playing cards to assist clear up town. I met her there. And now I’ve a job working 40 hours every week. I additionally clear streets for a corporation referred to as Block by Block.” —Raymond, 54, dwelling on the road one yr after a divorce, hometown San Francisco

This girl has been courting the identical man for 3 years, and hopes they will quickly each get off medication and create a brand new life collectively. 

“He simply bought arrested. I feel he is being transferred to a program quickly so I feel he’ll get clear. He has has been utilizing dope [heroin] 10 years. I’ve solely been utilizing three years. I met him on the road in Harmony. He requested me for a cigarette. We had a mutual pal, and we grew to become hella good buddies. We used to stay within the Sunnyside Resort in San Francisco. By this time subsequent yr, I wish to be clear with him and again at school.” —Tessa, a 23-year-old heroin person from Pittsburg, Calif., who left house to stay on the road when she realized the ache her habit was inflicting her household. She first skilled homelessness whereas dwelling along with her father in a shelter at age 4.


This man met his girlfriend in San Francisco, and now he is about to maneuver to Nebraska, the place she relocated, to cease utilizing medication. 

“I met her on the methadone clinic. She wasn’t on the road and I used to be barely on the road, however we each ended up on the road. We each began doing crack. She’s now doing actually good and has been clear two years. She owns her personal home and her personal automotive. It is a CBD enterprise, marijuana with out the THC. I will go assist her. I am getting clear this month. That is my month. It is my birthday as we speak. I will attempt to get on Suboxone earlier than I transfer on the market. I speak to her on the telephone and Fb. She’s sending me cash for my birthday. She’s popping out right here to select me up. I am hoping to fulfill her in Reno so she would not have to come back all this manner.” —Dillon, 32, fentanyl and cocaine addict who grew up in Oak Run, Calif., east of Redding, and began utilizing medication at age 15. He has tried to get clear earlier than.

This man has discovered courting troublesome ever since his girlfriend died.

“We had been out and in of homelessness. We each had some cash at the moment. It was arduous to pay hire. We went to Santa Cruz to look at a championship volleyball sport. She had a full physique stroke — a response to the medication she took. She was braindead. That was ’95. That is once I began utilizing actually arduous. Heroin. After that, I lastly bought into the methadone. I knew I needed to get on one thing as a result of I used to be rotting right here. I met one different lady and that has been it. It hasn’t been the identical.” —Bryan Turpin, 48, dwelling on the road for 20 years and hoping to search out housing after getting on methadone

Many individuals stated the logistics of courting had been tougher with out shelter and cash, however discovering somebody you’ve gotten chemistry with was no completely different than if you happen to had housing. Listed here are a few of their responses.

“It is doable. Just about the identical formulation as if you’re not homeless. You meet somebody and also you exit.” —Danny, 60, dwelling on the streets for eight years, hometown San Francisco

“Why not. Being homeless does not imply you must let your self go. At any time when I’ve some cash, I take a woman to dinner.” —Juan, 58, dwelling on the streets for 20 years, hometown San Francisco

“It is fairly good for me. I do have cash. I like occurring dates. I get incapacity checks and once I get them, I would take a lady to get one thing to eat.” —Rickey, 58, dwelling on the road 30 years, hometown Ozark, Ala.

On the similar time, many individuals had been adamant they had been unequipped up to now of their present scenario. Of the 20 folks we interviewed, half stated “no method” to courting. Listed here are just a few of their solutions.

“I can not afford up to now. Proper now, discovering a dwelling scenario is extra vital than something.” —Angelo, 54, San Francisco native couch-surfing for a yr after being recognized with M.S. and laid-off from cook dinner job

“I do not date no one.” —Annette, 59, dwelling in shelters and on avenue for 5 years

“There aren’t many ladies on the lookout for homeless guys. I would say it is not good.” —Keith, 48, dwelling on the road on and off for 17 years, lately evicted, hometown San Francisco

“I am single. I do not date.” —Stephanie, 26, dwelling on the road for one yr, hometown Cancun, Mexico, lived in SF for seven years, labored as a dental assistant earlier than dropping her housing after which her job

“I do not even attempt. I will look and say, ‘Hey,’ however I am not a place up to now.” —Elliott, 49, newly homeless and dwelling in a van after he misplaced his job as a result of a skateboarding accident, hometown San Francisco

“I have not tried.” —James, 34, dwelling on streets for 15 years, hometown Burlingame

(Word: The vast majority of the folks we spoke with requested to make use of solely their first identify as a result of sensitivity of the topic. Many anxious sharing their tales would make potential employers cautious of hiring them.)

***

Residing on the streets in San Francisco: A brand new collection on SFGATE

Invisible to many who stroll by them, greater than 7,000 folks stay in San Francisco with out everlasting housing. Every of those folks face each day struggles dwelling on the road, working jobs whereas dwelling in a tent or shelter, preventing habit and psychological sickness, discovering locations to bathe, and all the time determining the place to sleep that evening.

Their lives are mind-bogglingly troublesome, however how how did they get there? The place did issues go flawed? For a brand new collection on SFGATE, we’re speaking with a few of these people, each women and men of all ages and all walks of life, about their experiences surviving the streets.

We hope you may have concepts for extra questions we will ask and you may e-mail these to [email protected]

Learn extra within the collection: We have additionally requested folks these questions:

What’s the most effective factor that occurred to you final week?

How did you turn out to be homeless?

Is SF a pleasant metropolis for homeless? 

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