My name is Effie-Lou W. (never mind the last name; don't need everyone knowin' my business, so I kept it anonymous). I live on the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "The City Of Brotherly Love".
"City OF Brotherly Love". P'uh! Not when you're homeless it's not ... people might as well just look away or wish you were dead or didn't exist. Most people they ignore people like myself and it really makes me crazy-mad!
I ended up on the streets 'cause I couldn't afford to pay my rent. The rent kept going up and up and it got to where I couldn't afford it, so the landlord, he done kick me out, and now I'm here, on the streets. It's a life I wouldn't wish on anyone.
The streets of the inner city are dangerous any time, but it's tons worse at night, with shootings and drugs and other crazy shit going down. I've seen people stabbed, robbed, and even killed: adults, teens, old folk, even kids. The streets don't discrimiate; anybody is immune to the violence that permeates around here in The City.
Whenever I can, I try to find something good to eat. Not always successful, but I do try. Sometimes people'll see me holdin' my sign ("Will work for food; God bless y'all") and they feel sorry, so they give me a couple bucks; most I ever got from someone was $50.00. More often'n not, I get maybe $10.00 or less. Sometimes I don't get anything at all; that's when I have to scrounge in the Dumpsters or garbage cans, in hopes that I find something that's decent (or at least, edible ...).
I've been here for the past five years. I would love to get off the streets, but nobody'll hire a woman like me: a woman over 60, or a woman with a known drinking problem. I don't drink as much as I did, but that doesn't mean I don't still want my booze or beer. Also, can't afford it, so I just go without most of the time. It's hard, though ... sometimes the craving gets so bad I start shaking bad and I get sick. Not very fun whenever that happens.
I got religion, so that's another reason why I'm tryin' to stay away from the Booze Wagon. It's already messed me up; don't need to wreck my health any further than it already is!
Besides the DT's, I also have bad legs: poor circulation. My legs are so swole up they look like twin baseball bats (and about as hard). Sometimes they turn funny colors and pain me somethin' awful. I also have maybe three teeth in my head; the others fell out 'cause I couldn't afford a dentist (still can't) and have terrible blinding headaches and sometimes have trouble seeing. I walk with a cane that I found in the trash and it's about as crooked as me, but at least it's something I can hang onto when I'm on my feet.
When it's night, I try to find a place to sleep (a shelter), but usually they're full up, so I sleep in alleyways or near a bridge by the highway; if if's raining or hot out, I stay in a makeshift shelter if I can find one. My life is a neverending journey, a neverending search for decent accomodations, even if the accomodations are man-made: hell, it's better than nothing at all or getting burnt up or soaked to death!
Well, gotta go. Gotta pee; my bladder's talkin' big time to me. If I don't go soon, there's gonna be a flood to rival the one that hit Pennsylvania back in the 1800's ... yeah, Johnstown, that's the name! Take care and talk to y'all soon! God bless!