The Free Press, Mankato, MN

No Direction Home

December 8, 2013

No Direction Home: Day 1: One night in the life of the Salvation Army shelter

Some men stay a few days, some stay all winter

(Continued)

Vickers claims he's been sober for seven months. He also said he's tired of the homeless experience. He says he's homeless by choice but also says that, if he wanted to settle down somewhere, it'd be difficult for him to do so. He lost a job recently at a local restaurant, but he says he's trying to turn his life around.

“I'm 28 now,” he says. “There's no reason why I shouldn't have a car or a house.”

Vickers was arrested recently after an argument at a bar. A man told police Vickers pulled a knife on him, a claim Vickers denies. While arrested, he says police assaulted him. But it was Vickers who was charged with assault on a police officer. Police also found drugs on him.

For his crime, he's serving five years of probation, which means he can't leave the state without risking further sanctions. He could leave if he could find work. But it's hard to find work with a criminal record, a dilemma so many homeless people face.

“I want to live within the law,” he says. “So I'm stuck here.”

RUSSELL MILLER

Russell Miller smiles when he thinks about that girl. They met in a Texas junior high school, became close and had a fling. After high school, they parted ways and didn't speak for 20 years. While on Facebook recently, he noticed a friend request from a woman with a familiar name. That girl from junior high had tracked him down and, eventually, lured him north. Miller figured it was time to get out of Texas, anyway.

“I was living the life of crime,” he said.

What kind of crime? Drugs. Petty stuff, mostly, but enough to make it difficult to find work.

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No Direction Home