David is a 63-year-old Sacramento native and father of four who dropped out of high school in the 11th grade to work hanging sheetrock and plastering houses with his father. David has been unsheltered for ten years. He talked to me about the devastating loss of his entire family and how a felony charge has derailed his life.
David tells me as a young man he met and fell in love with a beautiful woman. They began to build a life and had four children together. After being in the relationship for fifteen years, David thought they would never be apart, but drugs crept into their lives.
“My girl, my love, my heart took off with a drug dealer. She took my sons and moved to Oregon. After that day everything went dark and I didn’t have the will to live. I haven’t seen my sons in 32 years,” David said.
David left Sacramento after that and went to Oklahoma for seven years but returned to Sacramento when his brother, Van, who was doing “drug stuff” was beaten up very badly. Van passed away from his injuries shortly following the attack. Soon after the death of his brother, David’s mother, father, auntie and uncle passed away all within a year. “So now I’m here by myself. I don’t have nobody,” David said.
David tells me he started getting very angry and frustrated and his mind was messed up by the loss of his family and being alone. He “got with a girl” and his frustration and anger took over and he went to prison on a four-year felony spousal abuse charge.
“I should have had more control. I did four years in prison and that really messed up my life because that was a felony charge, so it’s almost impossible to get an apartment or a job. You shouldn’t have to hit anybody to get your point across,” David said.
“What really helped me was the judge’s stipulation for me to go to Sacramento Community Based Coalition (SCBC). When I got out of prison I went to SCBC and I had a bed there,” Davis says. “The program helped me. It made me stronger, made me open my eyes and made me understand not only my feelings but understand the next person’s feelings too.”
David tells me after SCBC he “caught” a misdemeanor charge because of a disagreement with a neighbor. Because of a felony charge on his record, David spent four months in county jail. After he was released from jail, he suffered a series of strokes. With his support system gone, he wound up on the street.
“When I was discharged from the hospital after my strokes, I was discharged to the street. I’d never been homeless before. I was scared, I didn’t have time to be mad. I just laid down on the sidewalk,” David says. “That was ten years ago, and I’ve paid my dues. I want to be part of society and if society won’t let you in, how are homeless like me going to get off the streets?”
David tells me he is on the verge of getting “inside,” he has a case manager helping him but it’s tough because his SSI isn’t really enough to live in Sacramento with skyrocketing rent. With a felony, he has been denied apartment rentals even though he met all of the qualifications.
“You can’t go backward, but you can always do better going forward, and that’s what I’m doing,” David said.