Not Homeless-Just Houseless

Danny Hopkins lives in a patch of woods off a main thoroughfare in Shreveport. The HOPE for the Homeless outreach team knows him well. They find him in late January with the intent of collecting information for their point-in-time survey, mandated by HUD every other year.

[Photos 1: File cabinets]
Danny keeps his meager belongings in file cabinets.

Danny's only self-described need is a new identification card. His last one was stolen. After helping him complete the survey, the team leaves him with blankets and a box of food and information about where to find them.

The entrance to his camp is filled with thick sticks and toys. He decorates with items from the nearby trash bins that include wooden frames, tarps, blankets and a mattress. He also collects toy cars and animals to keep him company. A few filing cabinets hold a little clothing and food.

[Photo 2: Tent]
A makeshift tent serves as a bed

Danny suffers from mental illness and addictive disorder and fits all too well the current description of chronically homeless. In a nutshell, that means he has a disabling condition and has been on the streets for over a year or has had multiple periods of homelessness in the last few years.

Danny had been homeless for years after walking away from a job and an apartment in New Orleans. He collects cans, usually picking up three or four bags a day. He says he can get by on $10 a day. He has decided to stay in Shreveport because "it's just a nice place and has good people."

[Photo 3: Danny waves to volunteers]
Danny waves to HOPE for the Homeless volunteers as they leave his camp.

As he makes his final goodbyes, he clarifies for the team and the reporter that he is "not really homeless - I'm just houseless. I kind of enjoy it."

It awakens a sense of foreboding in the team members to think that a 52-year-old man with multiple health issues must face his aging years reconciled to enjoying being houseless.

Content Archived: July 18, 2011