Shoppers sneer and turn away as Jerry Myers and Wendy Arredondo load up the few groceries they can afford.
The car, packed with blankets and bags, gives them away. It is their home.
They know what people think. “Get a job!” Or worse, “They must be bums.”
Myers used to have such notions himself, back when he had work and his own welder’s rig. “Look at that fool,” he recalled thinking when he drove his truck past a homeless man in Vicksburg. “He must be on drugs.”
Myers no longer jumps to such conclusions. He, Arredondo and their 2-year-old son, Sidney, live in a beat-up Lincoln Continental. They have joined a homeless population in South Mississippi estimated at more than 1,800, at least 10 percent of them families, housing advocates estimate based on biennial counts. Their car has been home, except for brief respites with relatives, for more than a year.
They agreed to share their stories because they hope others might realize the homeless do not always choose their circumstances or invite calamity.
“We’re homeless,” Arredondo said, “but we’re not animals. We have feelings, too.”
“Now, I don’t fault these (homeless) people,” Myers said. “Now, I know I’m not any better than that man on the street.
“I’d give anything to have my big old bed to lay down. But right now I’m in the front seat, my little boy and fiancée are in the back.
“All we want people to know is we’re not bums. We’re out-of-work Americans. We’re not trying to rob anybody or hurt anybody. We are just looking for jobs.”
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