Homelessness in Indy: John 

The downtown homeless encampment called The Jungle. - MIKE ALLEE
  • The downtown homeless encampment called The Jungle.
  • Mike Allee

John has soft eyes and a smooth voice. He's studying to become a minister, and his mannerisms and presence would put any delegation at ease. John has been homeless for close to four years, but his faith is steadfast. He wore faded jeans and a thick flannel shirt.

When we sat down to talk, he comfortably slumped himself in a chair, crossed one leg over the other and had no reservations about discussing his life.

NUVO: How long have you been coming to Horizon House?

John: Off and on for about four years.

NUVO: When did you first hear about it?

John: Once I became homeless. I was staying at the time with a mission on Pennsylvania. They get you up at 5 in the morning and put you out at 6.

NUVO: Do you still stay there?

John: No, I've got my own little spot.

NUVO: Tell me your story. Why are you homeless?

John: Basically I'm grown. I do have family in town, but I'm grown. I've got to do this on my own. I gave up my house. I had an apartment for a year and a half. It was through a program called Partners in Housing, their Shelter Plus Program. I lost that because I couldn't make a meeting.

NUVO: Because you couldn't make a meeting? When was that?

John: That was last year. I went and visited a girl. I lived on the third floor; she lived on the first floor. Someone told that I went and visited her. Turns out that she was still getting high and turning tricks. So, they did an intervention on me and told me I had to do 90 meetings in 90 days. I did that. Then they said I had to do two meetings a week for 90 days. Then they told me I had to come to a well-living class. At the time I was working. Paying rent. Rent was caught up. I was barely staying there. I had a girlfriend who had a doctorate's degree. Drove a Lexus (laughs). They kind of was like, "Well, why are you still keeping the apartment if you don't need to be here." Well, she can't stay here and I can stay at her apartment with no hassles, so we could be together. Then, I broke up with her and started dating one of the waitresses at work, where I worked, and she lived in Noblesville. So, I would stay at her house. What we were using the apartment for was if we had split shifts or worked different times, we would come back to Indianapolis and we had it OKed with the apartment manager that she could use my key and come and stay because it didn't make sense to drop me off at work and come all the way back to Noblesville and in a couple hours have to drive back to go to work and then I got to go back to Noblesville and then come back and pick her up (laughs). I mean, we did it for a while, but we were just wasting too much gas. I asked to move into her apartment, and she agreed to it 'cause my rent was always paid, my apartment was always clean, and, as a matter of fact, they used it as one of the model apartments. If somebody through the program had to see an apartment, they could take 'em to mine. They pretty much knew I wasn't gonna be there and it was always gonna be clean. I never left dishes or anything like that.

But, back to the meeting. The meeting was only held on a Wednesday – from one o'clock 'til two o'clock on a Wednesday. How can you teach me to live well when I got my apartment clean, I stay clean and, you know, my rent is paid? My rent was never late. But the meeting was from one until two in the afternoon and that's the only day they had it, which was a day I was scheduled to work. They'd already cut my hours at work. I couldn't go to the bosses and say, "Hey, man. I gotta go to this meeting." But, their attitude was, "We're paying your rent and even if you're not working, we could pay your full amount on it. So, you need to go to this meeting." And that's when I got put out.

NUVO: And that's what why you're in the situation you're in now?

John: Back being homeless again ...

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