stocky guy with a buzzed head and a cursive script tattoo on his neck that's
faded to illegibility. He's been in a gang since he was a young teen, has two
children and was in jail for 18 months at age 26. He has large bags under his
eyes and a forlorn, despondent look. But, behind that look, there's a certain pride and fearlessness. Mike speaks out of the left corner of
his mouth with a long drawl and answers my questions in short, clipped sentences.
NUVO: How long have you been coming to
Mike: I've been coming since '09.
NUVO: How long have you been homeless?
Mike: Off and on for two years.
NUVO: What's your story?
Mike: I came out of prison. No family up
here. I got a brother and sister, but they live pretty much far from here.
NUVO: Why were you in prison?
Mike: For battery, possession of dope and
possession of a handgun.
NUVO: What services have you been using at
Mike: Medical, showers, phones, wash my
NUVO: Where do you stay?
Mike: Actually, on the streets.
NUVO: On the streets? Do you have a specific
Mike: Under the bridge.
NUVO: So tell me, who are you, who were you,
Mike: I'm from Brownsville, Texas. I moved up
here when I was about 12 years old. Both of my parents are deceased now. I was
born in the gang life. Been a gang member since I was about 13. Like I said, I
came up here when I was 12. Lived on the Southside all my life. Started getting
in trouble ... stealing cars,
breaking into houses, robbing people. Been to juvenile, been to boy school,
satellites, boot camp. Then age 16, I had my first baby. She'll be 13 the 27th
I mean, I've
had my own house before. The first house I bought, I was 19 years old. And
then, age 21, actually 20, was my first time going to jail up here. That was
for a PI. Then around age 22, 23 my other son was born. I was with my
baby's momma for four years... Let me see, I went to prison. Came
out the age of -- I did 18 months.
NUVO: Was that your first time in prison?
NUVO: How old were you?
Mike: Let's see I'm 30 now (long pause). 2011
(trails off). Went to prison in '07. So, that'd make me 26. Then I came out,
had nowhere to go, walking around the city. Then, I finally went down to
Delaware Mission where the mission actually was. And I was there for a couple
days. Then, I ran into my Mexican brother. Stayed with him for about three or four months. Then went homeless again. On the streets. Taking care of business. Come
here. Do my thing at Horizon House. Wash my clothes. Shower. I actually had a
job when I was homeless this past year working at the car wash over here. Lost
NUVO: Why did you lose it?
Mike: I had a death in the family and I
didn't let them know I was leaving. I went back to Texas. Then, I came
back up here. So, unfortunately, I've been homeless, like I said, off and on
for two years now. I mean, I got places where I hit and go. Stay with a friend
here. Stay with a friend there. Most of the time, I'm under a bridge over here.
NUVO: Is enough being done in Indianapolis
for homeless people? Are there enough places to stay? Is there enough to eat?
Mike: Food-wise, yes. Places, no.
NUVO: No? Have you ever had trouble finding a
place to stay?
Mike: Sometimes, yeah.
NUVO: What do you do in those cases?
Mike: I just go back under the bridge where I
come from. If I can't get a shelter or nothing, I'll just go back down there.
NUVO: As far as places to wash your clothes,
free medical clinics, is there enough of that?
Mike: No, I think there should be more. But,
I think they got them here. I mean, they got them all over town, but sometimes
they're just so far away some people can't even get to them.
NUVO: Have you ever had that problem?
Mike No, I come for my medical. If I
really need medical, man, I'll walk to the hospital.
NUVO: What else could be added to the
services? What do we need more of in Indianapolis for the homeless population?
Mike: Honestly, more shelters. I think they
should put, like, a halfway house for people they can bring off the streets.
You know? And help them out. Help them out with their addictions. Drug
addictions, sexual addictions, gambling addictions, alcohol addictions.
NUVO: Do you see a lot of homeless who are
Mike: (quietly) A lot.
NUVO: And how do you feel about that?
Mike: I mean, it's sad to see, but there
ain't nothing I can do. I wish I could, but I can't.
NUVO: So, what else? You've experienced it
Mike: I mean, there should be a lot more
clothing, clothing pantries for homeless people. You know, to where they can go
in and get a couple outfits here and there when they need them. Like this time
of the year, it's hard to get clothes. Sometimes you miss out to where, you
know, they'll come out and you're not there, then, you'll just miss out on the
NUVO: What about trying to find a job? Are
you trying to find one right now?
Mike: Oh yeah. So far, it's looking good.
'Cause I'm close, if I move to the Southside he'll give me a job.