“It was hard, being homeless, in the rain, living against a building, living in fields…”
Lamont Reynolds remembers how rough it was on the streets where he made a meager living by recycling cans and bottles culled from downtown trash bins and sidewalk discards.“I was on the street. It was humiliating.”
Lamont now lives at the Florence Hotel, where he has settled in, “I’m proud of getting a roof over my head and keeping it. It’s better than being outside on that sidewalk. It took me a long time. I’m blessed for Shelter Plus Care.”
He graduated from a drug treatment program and from a job training program, landed a job and then was laid off. He is holding tight to hope and to sobriety, “Most of the people I was with there in the program I see them back out on the streets again.”
Lamont was born and raised in Los Angeles and drugs seemed to offer comfort when a string of deaths in his family left him reeling. “There was one death after another, my mom, my dad, my sister.” It wasn’t long before he was strung out.
He was once a family man, with a wife and five children. Now, he is learning the lessons he worked to teach them, “There were a lot of things I had to learn. I wouldn’t take care of my bills. I didn’t know how. I had my wife take care of the bills. I had kids and I have grandchildren. I taught them, ‘Always depend on yourself. Get out and get on your own.’ And there I was, homeless and addicted and I had to deal with jail and things.”
“I wish I didn’t have that addiction. It’s not gone. I still get urges. I get a snotty attitude and I’m not going to change that. Especially if I had money in my hand. Out there on the streets, I didn’t have to pay rent, I had money in my pocket.”
While living temporarily with a sister, Lamont was picked up once again by police. “If I got bored, I’d go do drugs. I knew it was wrong. Even now, if I leave that spot open, the devil steps in.” The sentencing judge had seen Lamont before and offered him another chance by sending him to mandatory drug treatment.
Lamont was grateful, “I knew I was finally going to get help.”
“Now, it’s up to me to pay my rent. I don’t want any violations on my housing record. If I get evicted, it takes a long time to get back in. I look at life. I can’t change things. I can’t think I’m better than anybody. I’m the same person. Having a home and a roof over my head, everything has been good. I am happy. I’m blessed.”