Conversation at Night | A Journey out of Homelessness | Season 1 Episode 7

Conversation at Night | A Journey out of Homelessness  | Season 1 Episode 7

welcome to this episode of conversations
at night I am your host Irene Sidede on this episode we have Alvin Connor
he’s here to share his inspiring story of how he went from being homeless to
now a teacher an artist and possibly the future mayor of Kissimmee stay tuned to
hear his journey of how he overcame homelessness thank you for joining us on
this episode of conversations at night tonight we have a special guest with us
his name is Alvin Connor how are you I’m glad you’re here I’m
excited too so today we’re gonna be talking about a topic that to me I find
that it’s very sad to think about I wish it was one of those where we had a quick
fix quick solution but it’s definitely something that I think takes time to fix
and that is the topic of homelessness I do know that you have first-hand
experience with that correct so could you give a brief summary of your
experience being homeless um so yeah there a lot of people when they first
hear homelessness they put everyone in one little bottle they think that is a
homeless person on the street asking and begging for food and money with whatever
kitchen be but there are three different categories got transitional episodic and
chronic and transitional homeless is basically when it’s a you’re in
transition towards either you lose a job or you’re moving to a different state or
just because this unfortunate situation where the homeless at that point in time
for the episodic that is your in and out of being homeless they’re always gonna
relationship with someone who or domestic violence cases about that you
look what a person get kicked out get in another situation get kicked out or get
at home and you’re just different things that happen unfortunate events and now
then the chronic one is when mental health issues drug issues etc so
with that being said I feel like I was transitional because I was a short
period of time about eight months in California I end up getting a job out
there after I graduated with my first master’s degree and thing about it was
that the average one-bedroom at that point in time the San Francisco in 2013
was $3,500 a month but one day rule and I was gonna pay two thousand thirteen
hundred short I included the fact that gas was like four dollars how much says
a word for gas a gallon and everything just more expensive there so my pay
wasn’t matching the cost of living so I’m sleeping out of my car I’m stupid on
motels on weekend I have to cross the bridge to Oakland because of those were
the the cheaper motels where and as well as sitting on a couch or two at a time
but you know you make it work you know you got to do what you got to do at the
time it was temporary I don’t think I was gonna be there for too long I try to
I made a commitment to the kids that I was wearing what with at the school as
program coordinator mm-hmm and I’m at your school out there and already made a
commitment to them so I stuck it out as long as I can for eight months
and then it just came to a point in time where you know it was just best off more
beneficial for not only me but for the kids too because I was coming to school
I’m very tired the rain I’m kind of keeping with energy
like very hard at school I was in school too at the same time doing my school
work you know my grades were dropping as well doing online courses for my my last
matches that guy as well doing all of it all at the same time so it was tough but
you know I learned a lot I was all gonna be a humble person blossom all around
with me that what that lacks so you were living out of your car yeah what were
some of the things that were going through your mind at the time like
because you’d go to bed in your car I’m assuming you eat in your car as well
yeah yeah everything is in the you don’t have a microwave no kitchen so
whenever I would get the food I’ll try to eat it as fast as I can but if I get
up I forget a long meal or a big meal I’ll be happy bit hot and then the other
half cold so I make sure it’s some type of food I can eat cold or whatever the
kitchen would be but you know 9 times whatever I try to park up next to my
school or couple next to somewhere they had a Wi-Fi connection so what I could
do my schoolwork in my car that’s close enough but it’ll be so slow in the
internet connection go in and out so I’m trying to stay busy as much as I can to
kind of keep my mind off of everything that’s going on it’s more so like
something that you know it’s tough like sometimes I can any no gain like how am
i home with him for me I have three degrees at that point yeah all right
we’re degrees and I’m out here them to my car and every time I try to get a
place it was always a very like the places that I could afford was 55 plus
senior living you know assisted living person that’s like $900 with it
the Section eight housing was two years a year the two-year waiting list if I
was to apply so you know it’s just for me I was about kind of guy you know I
used to call some of my close ones my mom my dad my people on Mikado and all
close to but sometimes I’d say it’s how we’re trying to let them know what I was
going through you don’t to worry no one knowing my worry I also was like it’s
kind of discouraging like when I say the Scourge that kind of felt embarrassed
it’s like they they everyone seen me going to California like oh you’re gonna
new job and he’s doing this thing and then it’s like I get there and I’m
struggling you know I’m on your struggling it’s like man it kind of felt
it was like an embarrassment like and I feel like that’s a psychological game
rain or other homeless people as well because they feel either in there’s a
big field then I have the courage to go and stand up or go and get a job or go
to interview because they feel as if they don’t care they’re nothing you
don’t fit they don’t look the part they don’t you know they
don’t look appealing to to another so I feel like that plays a big role like
psychologically right I could imagine like it’s probably stressful and you
know on top of that the shame and like you’re saying the psychological effect
that it has a new it’s tough it is it is that’s especially like some of the kids
get found out that I was homeless I dusted in my car because they’ll walk by
in the morning time and I’ll be sleep like in the car and some of the kids not
over here on a sick students car they call me ace coach Jason no AC sleeps in
his car they laugh and they always I thought yeah where do you live it and I
can never do my answer but oh yeah I live around the way like you know I was
just I was I was out here in the morning gotta make things up so they didn’t
really know and now even to the teachers to the teachers teachers I’m good so the
only people that knew was actually the principal and the assistant principal
that’s like I couldn’t own it then my dad at that point while I was homeless I
couldn’t own being homeless but now I can own that after a cobra Kahless was
like now I can kind of speak on name kind of give hope to people who are in
the transitional stage yeah and did you ever experience any type of threats
while you were living in your car or living yeah couch it was it was like in
the area where I worked at wasn’t the best of neighborhoods and like when I
was sleeping in the car loved quoting like the police like you’re here gun
gunshots and stuff like that and the police would be searched through the
college and I’m not gonna call it assuming that you know I was a part of
shooter I was part of something and I’m just not I’m just I think this is why I
live that but you know it’s I mean they’re used to that they they see that
a lot but it’s just little things like that money in my time that I know the
police would come up whatever and the area cop it was a gang related areas
well and the dog they called it over there in the bay area
and my work shirt was actually blue you know and that was more like that or la
blue so if you could explain what that means for those who don’t know what the
zone Raider Bloods and the Bloods wear red which is a gang gang activity or
gang on family or whatever kids would be they wear red and Crips were blue so I
my workshop with blue I know a lot of bloods in the area so they would assume
that I was created right but I’m not I’ll just like the person so I always
used to you know take off my shirt or we’re never sure wear a jacket whatever
couldn’t be that I could were when I went to my school and my car’s out right
there and they’re right in front of the neighborhood’s were exact was kind of
kind of hard to avoid but a lot of times I would they grew to know me they grow
they grew to know that I was working at the school so and so it was okay at the
enemy but at first it was like kind of a little pressure kind of issue but I
never was one of those big bad tackle cocks I got just no I’m not about that
life I’m not that’s not what I do now I work
on the cheer for the kids and I kind of the respect and they respected me based
off that on it’s doing something for the kids stuff like that so kind of worked
out yeah yeah the reason why I asked that question is because I feel like a
lot of people forget that homeless people also do have issues with safety
and being secure yes they don’t have a house but they still you know they
struggle with that is yeah it is tell because when one you see like the
homeless people out there like even like the ones I used to meet at Starbucks
guys to go Starbucks and McDonald’s to do my school cuz I had a black bar and
robbed them they would argue you know based off her you know way they setting
up their 10a or where they’re setting up their space or the Badger that or and
there’s little things in the snap where this be angry
and their anger at the scenario of the situation at the end right but you know
it’s a kinda like a lose-lose situation like there’s no resources nobody to help
them there’s nobody to guide them and when they fight each other the police or
the store calls the police they come and they get arrested right then you know
just a revolving door so it’s like they go they got a temp out
there cuz they have to deal with the other homeless people who have mental
issues don’t know what they’re going through and they also have to do with
the average citizen the people who are homeless who are calling the police on
them because they’re trying to ask for whatever the patient be okay and then
they have to do with the police who just treat them whatever that way I’m glad
you brought up education because I a lot of people feel like it’s a one-way
street like if you’re not educated you’re probably gonna be hopeless you
know and in your situation you said you had three degrees but you still ended up
in that situation yeah so it’s pretty interesting to know and I think a lot of
people aren’t aware that there are others in that situation too who’ve been
to school in San Francisco and California a lot in Atlanta – and when a
Georgia like I’m on that – that there is a lot of color students living out of
their car going to school because they can’t afford to pay to live on college
campus and they can’t afford to pay for apartment for house and census not
complaining so a lot of them like even if you research it like you would find
all these videos – all these college students living in vans parking lot you
know overall campus I read something that said that in California living out
of your car is technically illegal yeah and you were living out of your car okay
yeah so did you ever have any encounter or were you ever scared that you know
somebody was gonna find you and I always try to park somewhere different so I
didn’t I didn’t become a tournament I use a partner for the school then
there’s not really actually there’s it’s kinda like New York like Street side
side parking it’s not really actually parking lots you just Park up so for me
it was really is really like situation like I just try
to find a place to park if you want to help somebody who’s homeless yeah do you
know what the laws are they restricted people from actually hoping there’s a
what there’s like a bunch of panhandle handling laws that’s different in
different states and different cities so but the more so against a panhandler
like he can if a panhandler comes up to and ask us for X amount of dollars they
have to be about three feet away from the person with the the person says no
you can’t block them you can’t block their path there’s there’s there’s a
time there’s a bank stirs like I don’t know there’s a bunch there is a law for
a song well I might have changed and some domestics that the restaurants are
not allowed to give food out to the homeless people I know like an event of
Georgia they used to be a lesson law that used to whatever whenever they was
over with whatever food they had leftover they’ll get they’ll go tell the
homeless people going back to the restaurant think about the food now was
that legal or illegal I don’t know lots of short have been rid of the law of
their and at the time no but those below of the laws on that varies and also it’s
also depending on the actual type of food that they give out whether it’s
perishable whether it’s not perishable I’m asking because I remember there’s a
time in college where my friend and I were trying to give someone something
and then one of our other friend was like oh you’re not supposed to give them
food because you probably get arrested or fined or something like that yeah
after that we both got scared makes well you’re not allowed to give certain foods
or some things to people but I’m not sure mm-hmm
there’s that law that is what were some of the strategies or some of the
techniques you use to get yourself out of homelessness right okay so basically
like our was thinking I was instated like that
because I moved there to really stay there but that job can build my way up
in the education and nonprofit arena so I was hired to be a program coordinator
which is oh and I was AmeriCorps member which does a lot of civic work community
work and helping out the community so that was kind of my job at the
organization was called Playworks but basically I was working there so I made
much doesn’t I was there like so how I figure out I was like mad I took a
shower I took shower pretty I waited brush my teeth and stuff like that so I
was at the YMCA so and that’s why I was working at before and I haven’t a judge
before I’m about there mm-hmm so the YMCA their membership was like $30 $35 a
month so I was like okay cool activate that $35 so now at least I can be take a
shower brush my teeth and get freshened up for work so I can be presentable you
know I’m not gonna be smellier anyway anyway I have a I’d spend X amount of
dollars on motels to stay there as your shower because the motels cost about 87
dollars a night for a motel and Michael rinky-dink have to drive over the bridge
it’s like $7 and tongue across the bridge my god my San francisco-oakland
sounds like I was doing that at first I learn I thought that I would save money
cuz I’m hammering at the paint so um show you a solid one um pay for the
water ca for $35 or $30 a month and then I applied for the hardship hardship
assistance from the government so from the nonprofit and they got accepted so
then 30,000 to $15 so that helped me out and then house or
the live CD and then there was these kids that had like a little sports thing
they always went there to play basketball or t-ball baseball etc and
one day the YMCA worker always seen me then I was always just good a lot good
with the kids and and she said hey do you have you ever coached before mm-hmm
and I was like well I play sports but I never actually coached but um but yeah
I’m always around kids I know work at school
and she said well would you be willing to apply or do like an interview with us
to do to be an on-call like coach for for the for the basketball program and
t-ball baseball program like yeah for sure of course
so what end up ever was they didn’t like a mock interview where I came in and I
actually coached them for like one practice one day and they watch me and
see how I did I killed it I know they I did great and then they gave me a job
for an on-call position now what I did that waive my $15 feet so
now Keys watch it for free because I’m gonna claudinha
so not on that’s or like they they take to Twitter fee and then whenever they
need either the coach with a video call whenever you need myself and with this
fear it’s just things like that and I’ll only work whatever I can do to decrease
my expenses and increase my income would be great and just stay focus is just
being positively Lila’s whole that’s like mentality that’s life is an acronym
that means do anything to save life is for everything so instead of being mad
or sad or having a negative attitude you seem to say that’s like he positive and
move forward in a positive direction because there’s no point in dwelling in
negativity or you know in the past because the world’s gonna spin with the
what else so with that whole philosophy you know I just kept saying that like
man that’s not just happening for a reason um you know I’m gonna overcome I
guess I gotta be resilient and don’t complain about anything cause it’d be so
much worse because the thing about it is you know you know even those hungers I’m
sitting in my car and I had a car it makes I have a job too I put gas in that
car and I had a key to the know you know that I could make my certain things that
I was getting so I was always grateful I was a complainer Oh could you repeat
that that’s life begins like you so that’s life is the acronym of dat is
life you knew anything to say like this verb like here’s for everything okay so
it’s they saying that’s like said every day like yeah that’s like a half – it’s
like no matter what it is it happens it’s not only happening you having
somewhere else before yeah it’s gonna happen in future having
somebody in the same time so it’s like that’s like like you can’t something you
can’t just control her life just gonna have to deal with it
do you remember the day you got out of homelessness um it was January was
basically day that I left California oh I just had the same car I was in
mm-hmm all the things I was still enough for my
apartment from my ladder oh I think it was January 5th
Jaime big eye without I was officially home at work that’s a fish’s home but no
home on his 15 when I got there was always patina I never had a father soon
at that and then I left California January 5th 2016 so yeah yeah what was
going through your mind when you knew like I’m not going back to there but
Java back it was you know I took the time and I was going back to no job
right I was going back to Atlanta with my grandma losing it in Atlanta so I was
going back there and still finish up school and I went back down to Florida
to finish out with that fit you for that Florida Atlantic and they have to keep
listening and I was just gonna finish up school four times do my school work and
but driving back it was a long drive I was like three days worth of driving
kind of lame before and I was innocent lives like okay well at least I’m around
people like I don’t have my place I don’t have a place I want other child
I’m around people that were around my mom grandma dad close ones that go for
it like that I know that I could never be homeless out here because I got
resourcing there guy you know and not to get in your personal business which
already have this are you living by yourself now or not somebody you
hey grateful that you know at first I would I’ve been hell I didn’t have you
know I wasn’t my mom I first came back up through my parents then then I got an
apartment then it was just a struggle because it could send me prices so high
1000 1200 on average to the in kissimmee nazo that end up gonna put a roommate
sorry for just system money cuz and I learned a lot of things so I’m serving
some money and definitely good but now back you know by myself
it’s unchartered it out so I’m in a better space now pretty good job teacher
now my teacher so I’m making one money better pay
so I’ll make it this book cause I’m Way better than that was it how does it feel
to have your own space alright low is lovely man it’s like you
know I still the same car that was homeless master that’s the high so I
always it was everyone here kind of like bridging back and I’ll but the fact that
like I have like if you look at your keychain I had my car key have a house
key my poverty and I have American like over there I just had a car anyway so
it’s like every time one of my keys and I hold man I’m so grateful that I can
just go to the doorknob and turn like that that turning motion alone I’m only
grateful looks like I have all this face I could put my I could put my things in
apartment like when I was in California like every time I close my laundry my
pillow my blanket everything was in my back seat I’m imagining in my trunk so
it’s like the fact that I walk into my apartment
everything is spreaded out I’ll have a kitchen I can turn on the faucet I like
says so much things would be good for everything and what does hashtag AC 2020
means yes 2020 so next year I don’t want a premiere of city of Cosenza but I
don’t know color mayor like I want to be a public sir and I don’t like this I
don’t like the title so I’m actually working on a whole presentation right
now resent to the city of Kissimmee I want
to change the mayor and commissioner name to public servant one two three
four five figures five commissioners one is a merit I want to change the whole
title as a public servant with me for five so what that would happen what
would happen is a psychological reminder whoever’s elected say I’m a public
servant more nothing less do you currently work with any
organizations or do you have any plans to to help the homeless community
there’s – have a bunch of plans there’s actually one my like my campaign manager
Joshua Williston he was on the chef emojis are awesome guys don’t miss he’s
starting a business a non-profit and a for-profit called why hero which
basically was gonna help out the homeless people quit because what a lot
of people do is they give money and it feels good to give money to a homeless
person but it waiting to help them really
doesn’t help the reason why at home it’s not because they’re not getting back to
work and then you can find my spending money amazement on food or they may
spend on what they got addicted to drugs that are crispy so the right hero was
just was a company and gets them back into working working since night in the
work force okay and they said it’ll make these roses paper roses and there’ll be
a driver who will pick up those roses and deliver it to a nursing home
it’ll be a person as well and they would get paid for making the rose but also
there’s the Hope Center of their own 192 and they do a lot of homeless people and
they do like a lot of close drives they do you know job skills like interviewing
skills they actually clothes they give them clothes to go to a job interview so
they do a lot of work and hustle time so I’m definitely working with them I’m
working with the city as much as I can I got a whole bunch of different
presentations I plan on doing plans to try to connect the city I could send me
along with KPD to Kissimmee police and also kind of Sheriff and a
non-profit also where Joshua was not proper to try to figure out a way to you
know hire the panhandlers or the homeless new who always asking I’m ready
to kind of get them back in the field of working so being able to wait to hire
them for a day to work with the Public Works people like the public people fix
the roads it’s kind of trash and so they can actually work the you know $8 $9 an
hour for the day and instead of asking for money that actually working for it
what would be your advice to someone who’s going through homelessness or
someone who’s trying to get out of it man I always say it’s mental a lot of this
really but I would say to say to be to be resilient
you know okay that’s a nice advice I can give is just to be as positive as
possible and just know that it’s temporary well it could be temporary if
you are willing to learn and educate yourself on how to get out you know how
to just have naked and could you tell everybody where to find you
yes so you can find me on youtube on Instagram and on Twitter at mr. that’s
like Mr D 80s you can find me on Facebook at Alvin that’s like cognate
and you could find me on Instagram again and my campaign pages is at Alvin Conor
al VI n Co D and E are thank you so much for joining us your story is very
inspiring and I do hope that you know it can inspire someone out there who might
be going who might be going through what you went through share my story so this first time so I
thank you for tuning in I hope that you are now inspired and could possibly help
homeless people out here in America I am your host Irene Sidede make sure to
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