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


From his San Antonio home, Miller started walking. Through the hot summer sun, he says, he hoofed it 275 miles.

“That's a journey I will never take again,” he said.

Once in Dallas, he hopped on a Greyhound bus the rest of the way.

Miller said he was living with his old flame until one day they got into an argument. One thing led to another and, after some pushing and shoving, police arrived and Miller was out. He spent the night in jail.

After that, he was homleess. It's been five months. Where did he sleep at night?

“Under bridges, wherever it was dark and out of sight from the cops,” he said.

He said he's tried to get services such as food stamps (the program is now referred to as SNAP), but he's been unsuccessful. So he goes to work to his job at a temp agency, making $7.50 per hour. His money doesn't go far, though, he said.

“Smoking's a bad habit,” Miller admitted, a confession that explains where a good chunk of his money goes.


When asked why he's homeless, David Murray gives a polite — if somewhat obvious — answer.

“Lack of income,” he said.

He's only been in Mankato for eight days. In that time he's not really tried much to find work. He says his No. 1 priority is to find housing, a task he concedes will be tough without funds. He left St. Cloud for Mankato because he was down on his luck and was hoping a new city would give him renewed hope.

Murray said he's been to the Minnesota Valley Action Council and is still hopeful they'll be able to help him put together a big enough pile of money to make a deposit on an apartment. He said he thought he had a line on a place advertised in the paper. He called the number and talked to the guy and the place was available. But when he called back the next day to take the apartment, the place was rented.

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No Direction Home