November 27th, 2020

Living on the streets: Poverty a hole many can’t get out of

By GILLIAN SLADE on October 11, 2019.

Bobby Moore, is homeless for the first time in his life and says the stigma and shame has been all encompassing.

Part one of a two-part series. Read part two here

A man who has been homeless for the first time in his life says living on the streets of Medicine Hat since June has left him embarrassed and ashamed.

“It’s a hole of poverty, and the stigma of homelessness covers you. I didn’t care if I lived or died. It is hard to get out of that hole. You lose hope. Everything you do fails so you don’t even try anymore,” said Bobby Moore, 42, who has had no income since January.

That feeling of shame surrounds him all day long, every day, says Moore.

“Everybody knows you’re one of ‘those’,” he explained.

Whether you are walking past someone who is homeless or driving past them the look often given sends a message of distaste, said Moore.

“I need love and hope …we’re behind you, you’re not worthless,” said Moore.

He wishes people would stop and talk … show an interest in him.

“Believe me the homeless man knows he’s hated and shamed. That adds to his psychological problems – the hole is never ending,” said Moore.

Moore was homeless when he came to Medicine Hat. He has relatives in the area but their homes are already at capacity and he is on the street.

Ironically Moore helped to run a homeless shelter in Toronto at one time. He and his wife helped to establish a soup kitchen. The city observed the need for a shelter and asked them to set it up and they funded it. Moore was the operations manager and his wife the executive director. It ran for four years and then there were some issues that developed with someone on the board and he decided to resign in 2005.

“It was very difficult – we cared about the people,” said Moore.

They owned a condominium in Toronto and Moore got his Class 1 licence so he could drive a truck. They had enough savings to buy a used truck and got some work to transport goods. After three years it was not going well and he was struggling with the cost of heavy repair bills for the truck.

The marriage ended and Moore moved back to Alberta and settled in Stony Plain where he got a welding job and then began hauling heavy equipment in the oil and gas industry.

He settled down with a woman from Ontario. She became pregnant with his baby. The relationship started to deteriorate, he had mounting debt, and she returned to Toronto. He wanted to be near his baby and packed up and followed.

He’s not had stable employment since.

“I was gradually falling into depression,” said Moore “I just didn’t care about work. I just wanted my family.”

Moore talks about laying in bed for days enveloped by depression.

The relationship ended. His daughter is now four years old and is still living in Ontario.

“If you tell someone they’re worthless enough times, they believe it,” said Moore who admits to having an addiction to alcohol but has not had a drink for eight months. He says he uses drugs occasionally.

Moore was born in London, Ont., but his parents divorced when he was about two years old and he came to live in Alberta. He moved to Toronto when he was 23 and has had varied employment experience including carpentry, welding, oil and gas industry, he’s been a realtor and a property manager.

He’s certainly thought about employment and describes what it feels like going for an interview along with all his personal possessions in a backpack and a grocery bag.

“You feel ashamed of yourself,” said Moore.

From the first question there is an issue. The interviewer starts by asking which part of the city he lives in and then what work he’s been doing recently. It goes downhill from there, said Moore.

The issues he faces go beyond employment he explained. Moore also says there is a good reason why some choose to sleep outside rather than in the shelter.

The second part of this story will feature in the News on Saturday.

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