Today we met Derrick:
Derrick is a 7 year veteran of the Las Vegas streets. After the market crash in 2009, Derrick lost his city job but was able to file for unemployment. Las Vegas, in particular, was hit extremely hard during the recession because a large part of the city’s revenue comes from tourist and practically everyone stopped vacationing during this time. After two years of unsuccessfully searching for a new job, the unemployment ran out and Derrick lost his home and then his car. For the first time in his life, Derrick found himself living on the streets in 2011.
When we found Derrick today, he was sitting quietly and alone on what is usually a very heavily occupied sidewalk. I pulled over to offer him a lunch and hygiene kit. The moment I locked eyes with him, I knew there was something special about him. We talked for about 45 minutes in the rain. In sharing with me, Derrick said the two things he focuses on the most is staying safe and keeping his mental faculties sharp. I asked him what is the one thing he wanted other people to know. What he said to me was profound, “Homeless people aren’t all lazy. Some of us want to work. I want to work. But we need shelter or a home to do that. You can give us a job, but if I have nowhere to come home to and be able to shower and rest ahead of the next day, how can I be productive? We need housing.”