"It didn't matter if I'd get up at four, five, I'd always be
late," he said. "I messed it up."
John got laid off. Now, he's sleeping in a cot next to me at
Glendale's National Guard Armory, which serves as a homeless shelter
during the winter. He's a victim of a poor economy and poor
decisions. Like many homeless people, John didn't give his last name.
Someone once told me that more than half of America's population
is one major disaster from bankruptcy. I don't know if that's true.
But after spending three nights at Glendale's homeless shelter, and
wandering the city during the day, I certainly believe it.
Sure, plenty of people fit the stereotypical description of the
homeless -- people who are dependent on alcohol and drugs, who have
spent too much time on the streets and in shelters.
But there are also people like John, who lost his accounting job
and has been living at 220 E. Colorado St. for the past three weeks.
While not stereotypical, John's story is not unusual. Many of the
150 residents are trying to right some wrong decisions, trying to get
their lives back on track.
But it's not easy without money, and the shelter's staff provided
little assistance. I learned that myself.
I arrived at the shelter Dec. 17, claiming to be newly homeless
and unemployed. At the very least, I expected to be given a piece of
paper describing the resources available to the homeless and
unemployed, such as the Verdugo Job Center and Project Achieve.
In three nights, I received nothing. The shelter provided a roof
and some bad food, but nobody did a thing to help me get back on my
A social worker did spend a few hours each night at the shelter,
but I knew that only because I saw a woman in the corner of the room,
sitting at a table, and I asked another homeless man who she was.
When I checked into the shelter and went through an interview, nobody
told me I could make use of her services.
Unlike most of the people in the shelter, John has a chance to
turn his life around. He said he had an interview lined up Friday
with George Lucas' production company at Skywalker Ranch, outside San
Rafael, and he was optimistic about his chances. He just did not know