Shoeshine, a 54-year-old homeless man in Fresno, California, graduated from college with a degree in recreation. He worked for the L.A. City Recs and Parks but soon found himself in prison with a twenty-one and a half year sentence. After he finished his term, his criminal background made it difficult to find a job, and Shoeshine turned to cocaine. 15 days later, “I caught myself and said I didn’t want to go back down this road.” He entered a Salvation Army rehabilitation center, where he worked hard to pay his room and board and therapy costs. However, when he pulled a hernia, the center discharged him, leaving Shoeshine on the street. Realizing he was not a good panhandler – “I’m kind of sensitive to what people think or what they say” – he decided to pick up his old trade, which was shining shoes and cleaning tennis shoes. He now has 45 clients and is contemplating working on a shoe-stand. He calls Fresno “the jungle” and lives in a tent on the outskirts of a homeless shelter. And while he says “I’m crazy as fuck…come on man – how would you feel living down here in the tent?” he keeps going “full steam ahead.” “I’ve gotta keep moving forward.”
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Resources"Secretiveness is especially common among welfare recipients, almost all of whom have non-welfare income that they conceal from the welfare departments."
- Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, by Kathryn Edin and Laura LeinInvestigate