After aging out of the foster system, Steven was left trying to make it on his own. Just 24 years old, Steven is already all too familiar with homelessness and hunger — and the game of survival.
1. Hunger Pains
Steven: I mean, there is a certain pain that you get in your stomach when you’re really super hungry. It’s almost like you have no stomach. It’s almost like, if you ever heard the phrase “my stomach is touching my spine” or “my stomach is touching my back,” that’s literally what it feels like. It’s a clenching pain. It’s like a tightening almost. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s like a cramp.
2. No Place to Call Home
Steven: Like most of the people that I know or that I associate with or that I’ve seen or even spoken short lengths with have a problem with food. So, you know, right now, I’m a young man that’s kind of struggling, I’ve been on and off homeless. I went through the system a little bit. I was never technically with any foster parents. It was always with family, but I got jumped around a little bit until I got with somebody and that was my grandparents.
I was with them from the age of 5 ’til I was 18. I’m 24. From 18 on I’ve been homeless on and off. The longest period of time I haven’t been homeless was this just recent time and that was 9 months. I was living with a friend and helping their mother take care of the kids and stuff.
3. Dumpster Diving
Steven: It first started off with like stealing little items because, um, you know, it’s not like I didn’t have anybody really there for me. You know, sometimes I didn’t always have some place to sleep, but I usually always had at least one meal a day. I worked a lot, you know. The times I did work, I did have a couch or something and you know I supported myself. But, um, they were short periods of time. I’ve dug in dumpsters, without shame. It was more like, I was never really so much starving but I guess it was at some point, maybe three years ago, I was homeless one winter and it started to take a toll on me, being homeless so much. Honestly, I started to lose my mind a little bit. People didn’t want to be around me.