Darron Goebel worries about housing, but not about how to handle a mortgage or if he’ll be able to pay his hydro bill on time.
This particular Friday, as he sits on the sidewalk on Alexander Street in Salmon Arm, he’s wondering if he can get together $15 to buy a tent at the thrift store before it closes. As he talks, a couple of passersby stop to give him food. He looks thin and his teeth are missing.
Goebel is a member of the homeless population that has become the norm, a fixture in this town, province and country.
He has been staying mostly at the Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter this winter, but that ended on Saturday, April 1, the day the shelter closed for the season.
Goebel says his propane heater fell over and his tent caught fire the day before. He is grateful he managed to escape the blaze unscathed.
He’s not too worried about finding a place to pitch a tent, and points out that if he can get a note from welfare, he can tent in a provincial park for free.
He says he gets work once in a while, doesn’t receive government assistance and “I refuse crime.”
He can’t get assistance, he says, because he doesn’t have proof of residence. Also, to get work, he needs to be situated somewhere.
“It’d be nice to have my own shower facility.”
Goebel is a labourer.
“If I got some work, I’d be happy.”
Goebel doesn’t talk about how he ended up homeless, but does say his family life was rough growing up.
And being homeless isn’t all bad, he offers.
“I love my clarity, my independence and clarity.”
Goebel muses that if he won the lottery, he’d build a place for homeless people.
“I’d build a house for everyone to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. Three meals a day, plus somewhere to rest. If they had a reliable place to go to, surviving wouldn’t be so hard.”