Two years ago, Chris Johnson, 21, left his home in Mississippi and headed north. He ended up in Indianapolis. “It was really the flip of a coin. It was either heads here, tails Chicago,” he said.
He quickly found a part-time job but didn’t make enough money to cover his rent and soon found himself homeless.
Chris managed to keep working even though he was on the streets. “I had a couple of rough nights where I had miscellaneous people just come up and wreck things, or I’d go to work, come back, my stuff was all over the playground and food was gone,” he said.
Discovered by a pastor who helped him contact Outreach, he found a full-time job and soon made enough to rent a hotel room. With his good fortune, he took in two homeless individuals. Now, after months of saving, he has moved into his own apartment.
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“I moved here in September of 2009. I wanted a fresh start. I was trying to start over and get my life together. I wanted to come somewhere where I didn’t know anybody and nobody knew me.
“When I first became homeless, the job that I had wasn’t paying enough to get housing. I was different from most young homeless people whom I met, they have like literally nothing. They don’t have jobs. They don’t have like a place to stay. Anything that they would need — if a police officer walked up on them right now and asked them for ID — they don’t have that.
“I was sleeping on a sidewalk of an abandoned store. After that I slept on a playground. After that I was sleeping in my car.
“It was real rough. Not getting any sleep. Animals would come out of the woods, like deer.
“It was a pastor who found me while I was sleeping on the playground of his church. And he brought me inside of his church one Sunday morning. I watched the service and he gave me a piece of paper with places and shelters that would help me.
“I work for a private jet company, Jet Linx Aviation. I’m a maintenance line technician.
“The long hours that I work, I have no time to be at home. I work 10-hour days and it’s a long bus ride to work, so I don’t even think I get to spend eight hours at home.
“As of right now, my family back in Mississippi, they don’t know that the time I’ve been here, I’ve been homeless. They don’t know. But every time I talk to them, I make it seem like everything is all fine and dandy.
“I wish I had my daughter. That would be what I wish I had. With every holiday, with Christmas, I wanted to go down there, but I couldn’t because of work. So I just sent a big box of winter clothes, toys, a card and I think I put about $200 in there.
“In a few years I hope to have or to keep my same job, a nice place to stay, somewhere to call home, with an address. I hope to have my daughter here. I possibly hope that I can volunteer here whenever I can.”
Copyright 2011 Y-Press