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Homelessness in Indy: Marie 

click to enlarge Homeless encampment in Indianapolis
  • Beds laid out at a homeless encampment under I-65 on South Davidson Street.
  • Mike Allee

Marie Turner had everything she could want. She had more money than she knew how to spend, three children, a job she loved and a lot of free time.

"I just had too much money and not enough to do," Turner said. "Then, my stepmother introduced me to crack cocaine."

It was a textbook case of addict behavior after that — she was evicted, bill collectors began calling and her children's father took the kids with him to Indianapolis.

"After about three months of living in Columbus (Indiana) without my kids, I was going crazy," Turner said. "I decided with my boyfriend to move to Indy. I didn't have any place else to go. So, we came here."

Turner and her boyfriend lived on the streets for a few days in Indianapolis before chancing upon an encampment of other homeless people on White River Parkway.

"They let us stay there," Turner said. "We were a big happy family."

After a few nights in the camp, Turner and the others had a surprise visit during the night.

"It was snowing and cold and they scared us to death," she recalled.

The visitors were two outreach workers from Horizon House.

"They sat with us and offered us food and water. They introduced us to Horizon House and said we could come there and take care of some of our needs. We all went to the Horizon House the next morning and started utilizing their services."

She continued to live on the streets and feed her addiction for another year after that night.

Horizon House eventually helped Turner find a job in a factory. She saved enough money after a few months to afford a car and an apartment. Turner took six others from the camp with her to her new place.

"I was fighting my addiction at the time," Turner said. "Unfortunately, my friends wanted to continue their struggle. So, my friends and I, we parted our ways. I got my kids back. I got everything back on track."

Turner worked various jobs over the next few years. She was clean, had money and, most importantly to her, she had her kids again.

Years after her first encounter with Horizon House, Turner heard about a job opening there.

"I went in and interviewed," she said. "I actually started crying in the interview and told them how much it would mean to me. Had it not been for Horizon House that night I could've died. Anything could've happened."

Turner now does the same job as the people who found her that night. She's an outreach worker in addition to working the front desk some days. She also volunteers to be on call one week a month to be notified by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department if they find someone who is identified as homeless.

"I've been on both sides of the desk (at Horizon House) and it sucks," she said. "You can't imagine what someone has to go through to sleep outside — gather your belongings, get up off the freezing-cold concrete. Everybody's situation is completely different. Because they're homeless they're not crazy or have a drug problem. They're people."

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