After his wife and three young daughters were killed in an automobile accident, Wes has had a hard time coping with life. 

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He finds employment off and on, drinks more than most, and struggles to regain a life of normalcy. 

February 2017:  Wes walks from where he slept the night on the sidewalk on Maine Street in Quincy. Like others living in homelessness in Quincy, Wes is up and moving before daybreak so he won’t be harassed.  He’s on his way to a gas station to use the toilet. Wes, 47, says he’s been homeless off and on for about 10 years. Wes says he became homeless after his wife and three little girls were killed in a car accident. "When they died, it takes a lot from you, you know. I was working, it was a city job, and I kept it for about another six months and then it was like, I fell off. I mean, I'd sit here and I'd get just ... I don't know, I just drank all the time and I just ... I still haven't got over their deaths. To kiss and hug your family and then find out a few hours later they’re dead - That’s PTSD in the making. It’s going to affect you that way,” Wes said.

February 2017: Wes walks from where he slept the night on the sidewalk on Maine Street in Quincy. Like others living in homelessness in Quincy, Wes is up and moving before daybreak so he won’t be harassed.

He’s on his way to a gas station to use the toilet. Wes, 47, says he’s been homeless off and on for about 10 years. Wes says he became homeless after his wife and three little girls were killed in a car accident. "When they died, it takes a lot from you, you know. I was working, it was a city job, and I kept it for about another six months and then it was like, I fell off. I mean, I'd sit here and I'd get just ... I don't know, I just drank all the time and I just ... I still haven't got over their deaths. To kiss and hug your family and then find out a few hours later they’re dead - That’s PTSD in the making. It’s going to affect you that way,” Wes said.

“To kiss and hug your family and find out a few hours later they’re dead - that’s PTSD in the making.”
— Wes
February 2017:   Wes stashes his bags at a location near a church, but a few hours later, his bags are found by a maintenance worker, and he is asked to no longer use that place to hide his belongings.  “I’ve got two whole sacks, I've got a backpack, and I got another backpack that keeps my sleeping bag in it so I'm basically carrying three bags, which at any given time probably would weigh at least 50 pounds, which is okay, I gotta work out somehow. But, like, if I need to go in a store, I can't take that in with me. If I need to go in and get some food, or whatever, I can't so I need to try and find places around town where I can stash my bags for a little while anyways, and it always makes me nervous. I will do it and it's been okay, all right, except for a time or two. I've actually had my stuff stolen in the past. So I'm very leery. I want to keep it with me but you can't and you can't just stick it around the corner of the store and walk in. It's just really difficult.”  “I had my bag stolen one time - it had my insulin and syringes in it. I had to be admitted to the hospital for two weeks.”  I'm gonna tell a story. I stashed my stuff to go to the store because I can't carry it in with me. This person noticed it and immediately ... and she's supposedly Christian - she immediately was like going, is that your stuff? I'd been gone a half an hour and that's all it takes. She said you can't put your stuff in there. We don't allow people to sleep in there. And I'm like, ma'am, I have never slept in there. She was like, okay, all right. Just don't ever do it again, blah blah blah. I don't know, that was really Christian like, wasn’t it?”  In Springfield, Missouri, they used to have a day shelter with lockers. It didn't cost you anything. You could wash your clothes in there. Didn't cost you anything. You had to wait in line, and it wasn't the best in the world but still, you could store your extra stuff there.” 

February 2017:  Wes stashes his bags at a location near a church, but a few hours later, his bags are found by a maintenance worker, and he is asked to no longer use that place to hide his belongings.

“I’ve got two whole sacks, I've got a backpack, and I got another backpack that keeps my sleeping bag in it so I'm basically carrying three bags, which at any given time probably would weigh at least 50 pounds, which is okay, I gotta work out somehow. But, like, if I need to go in a store, I can't take that in with me. If I need to go in and get some food, or whatever, I can't so I need to try and find places around town where I can stash my bags for a little while anyways, and it always makes me nervous. I will do it and it's been okay, all right, except for a time or two. I've actually had my stuff stolen in the past. So I'm very leery. I want to keep it with me but you can't and you can't just stick it around the corner of the store and walk in. It's just really difficult.”

“I had my bag stolen one time - it had my insulin and syringes in it. I had to be admitted to the hospital for two weeks.”  I'm gonna tell a story. I stashed my stuff to go to the store because I can't carry it in with me. This person noticed it and immediately ... and she's supposedly Christian - she immediately was like going, is that your stuff? I'd been gone a half an hour and that's all it takes. She said you can't put your stuff in there. We don't allow people to sleep in there. And I'm like, ma'am, I have never slept in there. She was like, okay, all right. Just don't ever do it again, blah blah blah. I don't know, that was really Christian like, wasn’t it?”  In Springfield, Missouri, they used to have a day shelter with lockers. It didn't cost you anything. You could wash your clothes in there. Didn't cost you anything. You had to wait in line, and it wasn't the best in the world but still, you could store your extra stuff there.” 

February 2017:   Searching vending machine coin return slots, and the grounds beneath fast food pick-up windows, Wes comes up with $1.60 in change.  In a week's time, I might find $10 worth of change.  I'll go through drive-throughs, soda machines sometimes. You might see a five dollar bill on the side of the road or a 20 if you’re paying attention. I've found a 20 several times. It happens. And trust me, a 20 in my situation can last me for a while. Drive-through restaurants, places kinda like that, you know, those are really good places where people, they change their money, and they will occasionally lose it and they won't get out of their car to pick it up or whatever. Like I said, sometimes you can find dollar bills like that too. Don't just look in the little hole and not see anything, no, push the coin release button or whatever it is on the top because I've had a dollar's worth of change come out of one of those at any given time.”  “I’d like to have a life and maybe a family again, but I don’t see much of a future, and that’s really sad.” 

February 2017:  Searching vending machine coin return slots, and the grounds beneath fast food pick-up windows, Wes comes up with $1.60 in change.

In a week's time, I might find $10 worth of change.  I'll go through drive-throughs, soda machines sometimes. You might see a five dollar bill on the side of the road or a 20 if you’re paying attention. I've found a 20 several times. It happens. And trust me, a 20 in my situation can last me for a while. Drive-through restaurants, places kinda like that, you know, those are really good places where people, they change their money, and they will occasionally lose it and they won't get out of their car to pick it up or whatever. Like I said, sometimes you can find dollar bills like that too. Don't just look in the little hole and not see anything, no, push the coin release button or whatever it is on the top because I've had a dollar's worth of change come out of one of those at any given time.”

“I’d like to have a life and maybe a family again, but I don’t see much of a future, and that’s really sad.” 

February 2017:  Wes sits in the Catholic Charities lounge on Maine Street to warm up with a cup of coffee, as a volunteer checks to see if a heat vent is working. Wes likes to drop in to read. “There’s a few people in this town who will go out of their way to do anything for you. I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. I read at least a book a week and I’m talking fiction, I mean, you know, nonfiction, yeah, I’ll read some of that too but just to keep up on the way of the world. I played music too. I loved music since I was old enough to fart, for crying out loud, and I played guitar for 20 years. But I haven’t touched it since my wife and kids were killed in a car accident.”

February 2017: Wes sits in the Catholic Charities lounge on Maine Street to warm up with a cup of coffee, as a volunteer checks to see if a heat vent is working. Wes likes to drop in to read. “There’s a few people in this town who will go out of their way to do anything for you. I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. I read at least a book a week and I’m talking fiction, I mean, you know, nonfiction, yeah, I’ll read some of that too but just to keep up on the way of the world. I played music too. I loved music since I was old enough to fart, for crying out loud, and I played guitar for 20 years. But I haven’t touched it since my wife and kids were killed in a car accident.”

March 2017:  Rising early on a freezing morning to avoid any possible complains, Wes rolls up his sleeping bag where he often sleeps on Maine Street in Quincy. “The first night I was actually homeless, I’m sitting here carrying around, at the time, everything I own, which is about three big black trash bags. And I'm sitting here going, oh my God. I'm actually gonna have to sleep out without a tent, without a sleeping bag. How in the hell am I going to do this? I ran onto a dude and he and I talked a little bit, and we kinda got along. This is the middle of February, it turned out cold that night and he and I were like, I mean, you talk about a couple of dudes not wanting to, but then yet still, I mean, if we hadn't snuggled up to each other we probably be both dead. I mean it got below freezing that night.”

March 2017: Rising early on a freezing morning to avoid any possible complains, Wes rolls up his sleeping bag where he often sleeps on Maine Street in Quincy. “The first night I was actually homeless, I’m sitting here carrying around, at the time, everything I own, which is about three big black trash bags. And I'm sitting here going, oh my God. I'm actually gonna have to sleep out without a tent, without a sleeping bag. How in the hell am I going to do this? I ran onto a dude and he and I talked a little bit, and we kinda got along. This is the middle of February, it turned out cold that night and he and I were like, I mean, you talk about a couple of dudes not wanting to, but then yet still, I mean, if we hadn't snuggled up to each other we probably be both dead. I mean it got below freezing that night.”

March 2017:   A diabetic, Wes finds a public bathroom to administer insulin.  He says he’s grateful to have Medicaid to pay for the bulk of the medicine he must take. At $300 for a month’s supply of insulin alone, there’s no way he could survive. “I can't get insulin, I know I damn sure can't afford it. I mean, I'd have to go to the hospital every other week and then they'd have to keep me because I'd be suffering from ketoacidosis 'cause I didn't have the insulin. Wes worries if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he won’t have the means to receive life-saving medications.

March 2017:  A diabetic, Wes finds a public bathroom to administer insulin.  He says he’s grateful to have Medicaid to pay for the bulk of the medicine he must take. At $300 for a month’s supply of insulin alone, there’s no way he could survive. “I can't get insulin, I know I damn sure can't afford it. I mean, I'd have to go to the hospital every other week and then they'd have to keep me because I'd be suffering from ketoacidosis 'cause I didn't have the insulin. Wes worries if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he won’t have the means to receive life-saving medications.

March 2017:   With weather reaching low temperatures, Wes sleeps on the floor of an empty apartment on the North side of town. “Sleeping outside, when it's nice weather and people will leave you alone, and trust me, that doesn't happen very often, it’s nice. But you're kinda always on edge, you're always uncomfortable. It doesn't matter if it's summer, winter, fall or spring, it doesn't matter. Winter, winter sometimes, I mean you'll be out, it'll be below freezing and you're cold and you're just cold even in  your sleeping bag, and you've got all these damn clothes on and everything. You just can't sleep because you're that cold and you're so tired that you can't get up and walk around to actually warm up.”  “I know of a couple of places you get into to get out of the cold and yet even that is kinda creepy to me 'cause it's like people are always patrolling that area, you know. Really, why are you doing that because it's no skin off of your teeth. It's not your room, it's not your house, what the hell are you doing? And I'm not talking about police either. I'm just talking about people. I've been treated badly by people who just sit here and look at me and go, you're homeless, you're carrying around half your weight in bags and your whole life - you're worthless and blah blah blah blah blah.

March 2017:  With weather reaching low temperatures, Wes sleeps on the floor of an empty apartment on the North side of town. “Sleeping outside, when it's nice weather and people will leave you alone, and trust me, that doesn't happen very often, it’s nice. But you're kinda always on edge, you're always uncomfortable. It doesn't matter if it's summer, winter, fall or spring, it doesn't matter. Winter, winter sometimes, I mean you'll be out, it'll be below freezing and you're cold and you're just cold even in  your sleeping bag, and you've got all these damn clothes on and everything. You just can't sleep because you're that cold and you're so tired that you can't get up and walk around to actually warm up.”  “I know of a couple of places you get into to get out of the cold and yet even that is kinda creepy to me 'cause it's like people are always patrolling that area, you know. Really, why are you doing that because it's no skin off of your teeth. It's not your room, it's not your house, what the hell are you doing? And I'm not talking about police either. I'm just talking about people. I've been treated badly by people who just sit here and look at me and go, you're homeless, you're carrying around half your weight in bags and your whole life - you're worthless and blah blah blah blah blah.

March 2017:  Looking for loose change on the ground, Wes walks to the drive-up pay window at Burger King in Quincy. "When I first got to Quincy, and I'd been here like, I don't know, it was maybe four months, I got jumped and robbed by a couple of people that I thought were my friends and they put me in the hospital for two days. Just to steal nothing. I didn't have anything.”  I've had good experiences.  There's a few people in this town who will go out of their way to do anything for you. I was sitting at Burger King the other night and a guy walked up to me with his tray and there was a bunch of fries on it and he said do you want these 'cause we're done with 'em. I'm like, well, if you're not gonna eat 'em, 'course I will. He then proceeded to go up and buy me a burger and a drink to go with those extra fries. He didn't have to do that.”  Wes says, often times people will stare at him.  "You'd be surprised how often I'm sitting in there, I've got my bags with me, you'll have people just sit there and stare at you. Like, why are you here? You're homeless. I can tell. I'm not stupid, I'm not a stupid person. When people are staring at you they're trying to figure out one of two things ... How they can fuck you, or how they might be fucked.”

March 2017: Looking for loose change on the ground, Wes walks to the drive-up pay window at Burger King in Quincy. "When I first got to Quincy, and I'd been here like, I don't know, it was maybe four months, I got jumped and robbed by a couple of people that I thought were my friends and they put me in the hospital for two days. Just to steal nothing. I didn't have anything.”  I've had good experiences.  There's a few people in this town who will go out of their way to do anything for you. I was sitting at Burger King the other night and a guy walked up to me with his tray and there was a bunch of fries on it and he said do you want these 'cause we're done with 'em. I'm like, well, if you're not gonna eat 'em, 'course I will. He then proceeded to go up and buy me a burger and a drink to go with those extra fries. He didn't have to do that.”  Wes says, often times people will stare at him.  "You'd be surprised how often I'm sitting in there, I've got my bags with me, you'll have people just sit there and stare at you. Like, why are you here? You're homeless. I can tell. I'm not stupid, I'm not a stupid person. When people are staring at you they're trying to figure out one of two things ... How they can fuck you, or how they might be fucked.”

“I got jumped and robbed by a couple of people that I thought were my friends and they put me in the hospital for two days. Just to steal nothing. I didn’t have anything.” 
— Wes
April 2017:   Wes wedges himself into some shrubbery at a local church for the night.  “I do not want to go to a Christ-based shelter where they're gonna make you read the Bible every night before you scratch yourself and go to bed and whatever ... that's just ... that, to me, that's just wrong. It shouldn't be that way. I've been there, I've done that. I spent four years in Heartland, in Missouri. And I actually think it's one of the better things that's ever happened to me in the last eight years. I did it for four years. I don't want to do it again. I don't know. I'm just ... you don't have to ram God down my throat. I believe in Him. Okay. I just don't like him too well. I know that's kind of crude to say, and that has a lot to do with my wife and my kids but I, yeah, I just ... yeah, just 'cause I believe that God is there does not mean I have to like it.”

April 2017:  Wes wedges himself into some shrubbery at a local church for the night.  “I do not want to go to a Christ-based shelter where they're gonna make you read the Bible every night before you scratch yourself and go to bed and whatever ... that's just ... that, to me, that's just wrong. It shouldn't be that way. I've been there, I've done that. I spent four years in Heartland, in Missouri. And I actually think it's one of the better things that's ever happened to me in the last eight years. I did it for four years. I don't want to do it again. I don't know. I'm just ... you don't have to ram God down my throat. I believe in Him. Okay. I just don't like him too well. I know that's kind of crude to say, and that has a lot to do with my wife and my kids but I, yeah, I just ... yeah, just 'cause I believe that God is there does not mean I have to like it.”

May 2017:  Wes cleans a vacant lot for a man who lets him stay with his wife and him for a time. Wes said when he asked for some pay, the man said, “You’re working for room and board, motherf---er,” so Wes left.

May 2017: Wes cleans a vacant lot for a man who lets him stay with his wife and him for a time. Wes said when he asked for some pay, the man said, “You’re working for room and board, motherf---er,” so Wes left.

“I’d like to have a life and maybe a family again, but I don’t see much of a future, and that’s really sad.”
— Wes
February 2018:  Wes sits in a room at the Welcome Inn. He was given a voucher to stay at the motel for a week at a time at $145 a week and he’s been there for six weeks.  Several social service agencies provide people with vouchers to stay at the Welcome Inn. However, those who live in motels don’t have the same protections as those who have a rental lease agreement. A person can be told to leave for virtually any reason, without recourse, or be charged with trespassing. Those lucky enough to get a voucher stay a week at a time and when their time is up they are back on the streets again. Wes left the motel after his six weeks were up. He says he called the Salvation Army for help but was told it didn’t have the funds. Wes says despite his requests, during his entire six-week stay at the Welcome Inn, he was wasn’t provided with clean linen once a week, or weekly room cleaning as advertised.

February 2018: Wes sits in a room at the Welcome Inn. He was given a voucher to stay at the motel for a week at a time at $145 a week and he’s been there for six weeks.  Several social service agencies provide people with vouchers to stay at the Welcome Inn. However, those who live in motels don’t have the same protections as those who have a rental lease agreement. A person can be told to leave for virtually any reason, without recourse, or be charged with trespassing. Those lucky enough to get a voucher stay a week at a time and when their time is up they are back on the streets again. Wes left the motel after his six weeks were up. He says he called the Salvation Army for help but was told it didn’t have the funds. Wes says despite his requests, during his entire six-week stay at the Welcome Inn, he was wasn’t provided with clean linen once a week, or weekly room cleaning as advertised.

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