A Voice With No Home

Written by Bernardo Michel-Luhrs

After an exhausting session at the Monterey Sports Center, I mounted my bike and began to make my way back home. As I rode along the bike path, anxious to go home to my comfortable and warm bedroom, I encountered a woman by the name of Terra. I noticed that she had been asking strangers strolling by for petty change, yet none of them even seemed to acknowledge her existence. I pulled over and gave her what I had, and she was incredibly thankful. She had a beautiful pit bull terrier named Sasha and I asked if I could pet her. As I sat with Sasha, Terra began to tell me about her situation, and that she hadn’t always been this way.


At around 55 years old, Terra was cursed to wander the streets every night in hopes of finding somewhere safe enough for her and her dog to spend another night. She explained to me that near the start of 2016 she had been seriously injured by a car that had run her over. With her newly imposed disability, she lost a majority of her possessions including two cars and her home. Terra’s daughter had also passed away that same year, leaving Terra with no other option than to resort to homelessness unless she wanted to indulge in crippling debt. For the past year she has been searching for a place to stay but with her current situation, that has become increasingly difficult especially due to the discrimination she receives from others. She has racked up 37 tickets within the past year, due to minor infractions or accusations that result from her state of homelessness. Terra explained to me that wherever she goes, she is looked down upon and treated unfairly by police officers, security guards, and anxious landlords. She did not choose to live the life she lives; she was condemned to it by a force beyond her own control, and these situations can happen to absolutely anyone.


As a society we need to stop this stigmatization of the homeless population. Instead of treating homelessness as a burden to society, treat it as a problem that is in desperate need of a solution. All of the people you may see sleeping on convenience store parking lots, or asking for spare change are not there by choice. Nobody wakes up hoping that they will not know where they will spend the night or if they will even be able to afford a basic meal. As a society we need to ask ourselves: how are we comfortable in our own beds and homes knowing that there are others in each of our communities that lack something as basic as a place to sleep?
We need to readdress the way we approach homelessness, and we can begin by doing something as basic as acknowledging that they are human beings. With a bit of compassion, homelessness does not have to be seen as such a negative component of society. Spare change only goes so far, but when we change the way we view and acknowledge the homeless population, that is when we can truly begin to address the problem and find solutions.