Article 25

Single White Male

In Uncategorized on 12/16/2011 at 2:56 pm

An interview at Camp Scabies. Photo by Jon Hughes/Photopresse.

Forced out of Camp Scabies

Interview by Margo Pierce


Rick doesn’t sleep in a regular house or apartment. He used to stay in a tent with Karen, a woman about 30 years his senior, in a small patch of woods a few miles from downtown, a place known as Camp Scabies. One agency refused to help them find housing because they were unmarried. Another agency told Rick that he had the wrong type of arrests to qualify for its program, and Karen didn’t have enough of the right arrests.

But that doesn’t matter anymore for the couple. Karen was placed in a nursing home after she started walking around barefoot in the winter and talking to trees. Rick won’t say where he’s staying now, but says he’s getting by.

A25:The police destroyed the camp where you were staying?

Yeah. They didn’t give us any type of notice.

You know Tom and them at the Veterans Camp? (Officer X) told him that they’re on their way out. He said, “This camp does not fly. I’m gonna make some calls and you all’s gonna be out of here cuz we’re gettig’ ready to shut all these camps down.” They’re not leaving us much choices really.

They’re not letting you sleep on Fourth Street anymore. You’re allowed to sleep on Third Street, but you gotta be up by 5 a.m. before all the business people start comin.’

There’s nothing you can say, especially to the Cincinnati Police, because you’re fighting a losing battle. You’re going right back to jail for cussing ’em back out. Find another spot and relocate, try to get out of (Officer Z’s) district – try to stay away from Z as much as we can

A25: This isn’t fun, is it? Camping this way?

It’s not fun. You gotta deal with the cold weather. Where you gonna use the bathroom in the middle of the night? Where you gonna haul the water from? It’s not easy.

You gotta worry about somebody coming in here and trying to attack you, things like that. It’s not fun living out here. It’s very rough, even walking down the street at night with it being dark and stuff. There’s a lot of people out where that despises the homeless. There’s a lot. You just gotta do like mainly me and … a couple others, we stay in crowds. You gotta stay in crowds. That way when something does come down and you can’t get to a phone and call the law, we can deal with it ourselves.

We have weapons in camp. We’ve got weapons.

A25: Are there any resources for you for finding and alternative to living on the street?

(Name withheld) is trying to get me into the Salvation Army out in Norwood. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to do it. That’s a bad area, so …

You can’t get into Jimmy Heath in housing unless you’re a chronic alcoholic. That’s the only way you’re getting in there.

I started a job. I work now. Full-time, I work six days a week – 9 in the morning until 9 at night. I work for a Reverend. Reverend Williams, he owns his own church up in Walnut Hills. … I got lucky when I met him cuz he don’t hold nothing against ya. I told him about my record and all that, and he said, “Everybody’s got to start somewhere new.” And he hired me.

Matter of fact, he just fed us a while ago. He just gave us a free meal a li’l while ago. He’s got three homeless people working for him. That’s all he’s got; he hires homeless people. The guy that’s working over there right now, cuz I’m off today, but the guys working right now, he stays at the Drop Inn Center.

Editor’s note: This is a Web exclusive story from A Place to Call ‘Home.’ For the entire package of stories and photos, buy a copy of the Dec. 15 edition from an Article 25 distributor. All names in this interview are pseudonyms.



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