If we are going to end homelessness, we must house everyone. We cannot pick who is worthy or unworthy of housing. HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT, or it should be. I want you to like Martin, but I know some of you won’t get past parts of his story. Martin shares openly and honestly about addiction, depression, prison, and homelessness.
Martin is homeless in Austin, Texas. His story is long. Martin rambles a little. He is a methamphetamine addict. Before you judge, I was a meth addict too. Meth and heroin are the perfect drugs to escape the pain of trauma and homelessness. I am sure many of you are thinking addiction is the cause of homelessness, and it can be; however, the vast majority of the 40 to 52 million people struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders don’t experience homelessness.
I first met Martin three years ago. Martin agreed to an interview, but he started to get emotional and stopped. So, out of respect to Martin, I never posted the video. I didn’t know until this interview that Martin was going through a severe depression. Shortly after we first met, Martin jumped off a bridge to kill himself. Two police officers saw what they thought was a bag floating down the river. When they realized it was a person, they jumped in and saved Martin’s life.
Martin spent 25 years in prison. I don’t know what he did. It must have been awful to get that much time. But, for me, it doesn’t matter what Martin did. He is no longer in prison. Martin has always treated me with respect. Since he has been out, even as a meth user, Martin has stayed out of trouble except for getting tickets for being homeless.
When I first met Martin, he told me that he would never go into housing. Martin actually changed my thinking. I once believed everyone would go into housing, but people who have done hard time don’t want to be in a box.
People change. Martin is doing much better mentally, and he now wants to go inside. Martin’s story is important. He went into prison at 19, and he says 25 years later, when he was released, he was still just 19-years-old. You can judge Martin and others all you want, but it still doesn’t change the fact that exiting people from incarceration to homelessness is wrong. Even if you don’t have a heart, as taxpayers, we pay huge money for every homeless person outside. Housing people saves lives and saves money. Our criminal justice system must provide some kind of support for people when they leave jail or prison.
Martin went into prison at a young age. Inside, you cannot show emotion. You have to be tough or your life will become harder than it already is. There are times in this interview Martin lets down his wall to show his kind soul. As I said, I don’t know what he did nor do I care. The Martin I met is doing the best he can to survive life after prison. I hope Martin gets into housing soon.
Here is the website Martin mentions in this interview
More Austin stories:
Austin Homeless Man Shares Powerful Prophecy and on Criminalizing Homelessness
Disabled Homeless Man on the Streets of Austin after 30 Years in Prison
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About Invisible People
There is a direct correlation between what the general public perceives about homelessness and how it affects policy change. Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of the increasing shortage of affordable housing, lack of employment, childhood trauma, lack of a living wage, or the countless reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness.
Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy. Since our launch in 2008, Invisible People has become a pioneer and trusted resource for inspiring action and raising awareness in support of advocacy, policy change and thoughtful dialogue around poverty in North America and the United Kingdom.