Category Archives: “I’m tired of the streets.”

“I’m tired of the streets”

Stevie Scales

42

Born in Chicago currently living in Flint, Michigan

Nov. 6, 2012

 “I have no income, 42 years old. I have nothing. Time is just passing me by. I’m tired of time passing me by.”

It’s funny the way things happen, the way things are put together and how unexpected events can turn out to be unexpected blessings. As we waited for our interviewee to show at the restaurant, in walks a familiar face, Stevie. We greeted him and invited him to sit down. The first time we went to get a story we traced all over downtown Flint to find someone and here was Stevie, walking right up to us. We explained to Stevie what we were doing, how we were listening to people’s stories who have experienced life on the streets and wanted to know if he would be interested in sharing his story. Without any apprehension he said yes and jumped right in. We hardly had time to get out our recorder and note pad before he began retelling his life.

Stevie outside of a building vent where he often sleeps to keep warm.

Stevie walked in wearing two coats, a winter hat and had everything he owned in a duffle bag. Inside he had a change of clothes, a blanket and a half a roll of toilet paper. He spoke with blunt candidness about his life. Here is his story:

Stevie is the first to admit he has made a lot of mistakes in his life and if he could do things differently he would. Now looking back he is ready to improve his life not only for himself but also for his six children, whom he hasn’t seen in years.

Stevie first became homeless in 2000 after getting released from prison for the first time. He lived in abandoned houses and on the streets, trying to keep warm. Some nights when it gets too cold he sleeps under heating vents on the side of buildings and in hallways of apartment complexes.

“I don’t depend on nobody. I just depend on myself,” Stevie said.

Stevie began doing drugs when he was in high school, starting with marijuana. It has been a constant struggle ever since. His first wife got him into cocaine, but when he stopped when their first child was born she continued.

“The baby made me stop. We wasted all our money on crack cocaine. You know, being broke, we got a baby on the way,” Stevie said. “She’s six months pregnant. It’s time to stop. Come to find out she was still doing it. I wasn’t.”

After being homeless for 12 years, struggling with drug issues and losing touch with his children, Stevie said it was time to get motivated to make a change.

This isn’t the life he wants but sometimes it’s hard to make that change.

“I have no income, 42 years old. I have nothing. Time is just passing me by. I’m tired of time passing me by,” he said. “It’s hard to find odd jobs of painting and stuff. … I hate handouts. I like to work hard for my money.”

Stevie began to tell us what it was like to live on the streets and how people saw him as a homeless man.

“I just don’t think they understand we are human beings just like they are. We can make it if they just give us a chance,” Stevie said, adding that people living on the streets are not the lowest of the low or throw-aways. “We’ve just had our ups and downs in life. We just got ours sooner in life than others.”

His path to homelessness

When asked if he would have done things differently Stevie said, “Yes. … Much differently.”

He would have finished school, waited to have kids until he had his life together and would have stayed away from drugs.

Age 16 is when it all started. He moved to a different high school in Flint and started smoking marijuana after he didn’t make the basketball team at the new school.

Soon he got kicked out of the school and started at School of Choice.

He was ready to get away from his family so at 16 he moved out of the house and in with his girlfriend, who he married two years later. After that fell apart due to drugs and violence, he found himself divorced with two kids.

By 2000 his other relationships had also fallen apart and he found himself in jail for domestic violence, which was learned behavior from his father.

That was when it really hit him that his life was going in a downward spiral. His girlfriend had left him and he wanted to end it all, he said.

She asked, “How can I love her and the kids when I kept getting locked up?” Which is understandable, Stevie said.

Over the next 12 years he lived on the streets, getting a routine down on where and when he would be to keep busy, stay fed and stay safe throughout the day. He is what the state calls “chronically homeless,” consistently going back to the streets.

For a year he was provided housing, before he lost it because of drugs.

“My life is rough. I’m tired of the streets,” Stevie said, adding that it’s hard to get housing. “You shouldn’t go hungry in Flint. It’s just housing that’s a problem.”

His future goals

Now Stevie is ready for change.

“My whole goal in life is to get all of my kids under one roof at the same time. My roof. After that, God can take me.”

Stevie’s next step is to get an ID and enroll at Mott Community College for automotive mechanics, something that he loves to do, he said.

He wants to get his own place, his own car and his own life back.

“Just waking up each day gives me faith. … I’m not robbing, killing or stealing. Everybody who knows me, knows I’m a good guy. Give me a chance. I work hard,” Stevie said. “I know God’s got something for me, something’s going to break.”

As he finished we prayed with Stevie and thanked him for his time. It was unexpected to hear his story that day but we both walked away amazed at his life and his honesty.

This is the second story in a series we are calling Flint Stories Project. Please continue to check back for more stories. Feel free to contact us at

flintstories@gmail.com

Everyone has a story. We are listening.

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