Location: Clayton County with Darryl Starks
Female, Age 56
“A southerner with ties to Georgia going back 150 years.
A product of good public schools and a great education.
A calligrapher and artist.
A pianist and songwriter, as well as a vocalist.
A good mom”
Daniel Enger (Interviewer) Good Afternoon, Dee, today is October 23, 2021, and we’re here in Forest Park, in Clayton County, in metro Atlanta, Georgia. My name is Dan Enger and I have the pleasure of being here today with you Dee I’m grateful to you for taking the time to talk. And I’m looking forward to hearing your story and to learning from you. My first question for you is a really big one namely please tell the story of your life from the time you were a small child up to the present day.
Dee: Hi, I was born here in Atlanta at Crawford Long Hospital and when my parents brought me home from the hospital, I lived in Clayton County in Jonesboro which is not too far from where we are right now. We lived there for several years, and my dad decided he wanted some land because he grew up as a farmer and he didn’t want to be cramped in the city and have a small place he wanted some land where he could farm. And we moved down to Spaulding County and the closest city was Griffin, Georgia, but it was about a 12-mile drive from where we lived into the city to go get groceries and do all our shopping and everything. Cause we lived out on a dirt road, and we had well water it was really country most of our neighbors were far away. I liked that kind of life it was fun growing up that way and then when I was a teenager my dad decided to change gears again and he wanted to move closer to the city because he drove a truck for a living and all that driving all day long on his job and then having to drive all the way back from the terminal back to where we lived in Griffin was taking a big toll on him plus gas prices were a lot higher this was late 70’s when things were kinda rough with the gas prices. So, he decided we’d move closer in, and he had a house built in Clayton County. I started my life in Clayton County then as a teenager I came back to Clayton County. I graduated from Riverdale High School with the 4th graduating class of that school brand new school pretty much and I had a new Junior high school that I went to as well good livin. My family was middle class we didn’t know any poverty my dad always made good money because he was a trucker and early on my mother worked when she was pregnant with me but after I was born, she stopped working and my dad made enough living where it wasn’t necessary for her to work. I had a younger brother and she stayed home and took care of us, and my dad worked but that was the norm at my age, now days that sounds crazy as old as I am that’s what people did back then. So, we enjoyed life in Clayton County once again when I was a teenager and I got to see the beginning of South Lake Mall when it opened 45 years ago and that makes me feel really old now (laughter) I shopped there a lot as a teenager cause all teenage girls we knew every store at the mall and where everything was, how to get the bargains, and all that stuff how to get the boys to look at us that’s where we cruised. I graduated from Riverdale High School I went on to Clayton State College which at that point it was still a junior college. I went to work pretty much made my living and had a decent life but what landed me here as far as being homeless was because I was kind of in a bad situation and didn’t have good transportation I had a child I’m skipping over a lot of stuff I really don’t think that parts relevant but I had a child late in life and I wanted the best for this child because I got a good education at the time I was in school Clayton County was number 2 in the state and Dekalb County was number one and now both of them are kinda in the toilet but they were good schools back then and we had great teachers and I’m still in touch with a lot of my former teachers, been retired for years of course, because I’m almost at retirement age myself. (chuckles) but it’s nice to be able to talk to your old teachers because we bonded and had a good relationship and they really, really cared about all of us and wanted us to have a good education. So, I felt that way about my child I wanted to give him a decent education, and as far as the year he was born the decent schools had all disappeared in the metro area except for Fayette County and that’s why we moved to Fayette County for the schools. And he got a really good education and he ended up going to Macintosh High School. But now I’m home schooling he’s not quite finished I’m not in a place where I can put him in a public school because of all the red tape and we’ve been moving around a lot and not having an address and it’s just a hassle. When you’re homeless it’s just a hassle and then you gotta have all this ID and crazy stuff and test and you know it’s impossible to do. I wrote got on-line and filled out the forms and said I’m homeschooling and that’s that and that’s what we’re doing. And I’m trying to get him to graduate early cause he has ideas he wants to go into computer stuff, graphic design and things like that, he’s all interested in video games that’s his thing I don’t know the first thing about it but I’m willing to help him get where he wants to be. I had the background I had advanced classes when I was in school, and I also went to college so I could do that and teach him and feel like I’m doing a good job of it anyway I lost my train of thought where I (chuckles) was Oh yeah about my homelessness in Peachtree City that’s where I was. I worked at a restaurant and had a small apartment and was not getting enough hours to really have any extra left over was just barely paying the bills and sometimes I couldn’t even do that, and then COVID hit and since I worked in the dining area of the restaurant they couldn’t keep it open the rules said no dine in so everything had to close and we all had to go all drive-thru. My boss was trying to work with me to let me do some things inside for the drive-thru but that really just wasn’t my cup of tea and I was struggling with it and I didn’t have good transportation so it was hard to find another job too and everybody else was dealing with COVID so there were no jobs and I ended up losing so much money that I couldn’t pay my rent anymore and things just kept falling behind finally I got an eviction notice telling me that they were going to kick me out because I hadn’t paid my rent and that was that so I ended up trying to contact a few friends that I knew and the counselor from my son’s school was able to help me to get into a shelter, and that’s where it all started. We have gone from shelter to shelter there’s not that many and my son is Trans he was born female and identifies as male so that’s an extra hardship, because a lot of these shelters are religious based and you have to believe the way they do or they won’t let you in and then they have age restrictions and they don’t want to keep families together I’ve been told several times if you were a single female we could find you a spot but because I have my son they don’t want to help me and we want to stay together cause we’re all each other has his father doesn’t have anything to do with him and hates him because of his transgender issue, his father and I were never married either so that presents another problem and his father’s not from this country so, he’s not a legal citizen either so we have a lot of issues with that you know we live in an abandoned building and we’ve been told in the city that we live in they don’t care for homeless people there at all they want em to move on, move out of the city get away they don’t want to see em, they don’t want to hear em, of course that city has other crimes but of course they want to persecute the homeless people and they want to make that a crime which it’s not a crime to be poor sometimes people can’t help that they don’t have money to afford things and they can’t get a job and like in my situation I’m older and once you pass even 40 it’s tough and when you get past 50 forget it. Nobody wants to hire you anymore they want somebody 25 and I’ve knocked on a lot of doors, but I have medical issues now that prevent me from doing a lot of things. I’m just trying to survive I’m staying with my son and we do what we have to do to get by and we’re making it so far I wish that there was someplace that we could go because in Clayton County there was only one place that would take us and they kept us for 3-weeks because that’s their policy they only allow you to stay for 3-weeks then you have to go no matter what. And also, the way it was with COVID they kicked you out like six o’clock in the morning and gave you a bus pass for a one-way trip and that was it and you had to figure out what to do with your day and how to get back and that was rough for me I wasn’t used to all that I had a middle class life at one point and I had to learn how to be poor and I had learn how to get around town on Marta because I always had my own car and could drive and it’s all different when you have to take the bus and the train. I’ve been homeless since August of 2020 so it’s been a little over a year, I’ve gone through a few shelters just nowhere to stay and nothing permanent you stay your allotted time there and they want you to move on they’re not really offering you any assistance on how to get to the next place just pack up your bags you have to be out by whatever time it is and that’s that. And so, I don’t know if I should get into it here but one of the problems being homeless is you don’t have internet, you don’t have electricity, you can’t charge your phone, you can’t even talk to people, you don’t have an address, can’t rent a Post Office Box because you don’t have ID that’s why you have to have a street address to get a Post Office Box it’s just a whole bunch of red tape involved in being homeless that I never thought about before, because it didn’t apply to me until this past year. I didn’t know how to navigate through a lot of that stuff and how to get food stamps, and how to get medical help and I had to go to Grady because I always heard that if you’re poor in Atlanta that’s where you’re supposed to go I admit they did help me a lot down there and I continue to go when I can but sometimes I don’t have bus fare to get there that’s leaves me out cause they help the Fulton County people out they’ll come and get you if you live in Fulton County but if you’re not, then you have to get your own way there and that’s another problem if you’re in the outlying counties and you want to go to Grady to get help you can’t because there’s no money available I guess and no way to get you a Marta pass or anything, so you’re just on your own. I could have gone but I didn’t have the bus fare to get there so I had to cancel a few of my appointments that I really needed to go to. I’m Type II diabetic and I have foot ulcers and their really bad and at one point they were talking about amputating my foot but I battled that and was able to heal it somewhat I still have some issues but I’m doing the best I can so having the foot problems prevents me from doing a lot of walking and standing and stuff and things that I would need to do if I had a job and I did have a job at Walmart for a little while and they decided that they didn’t want me around because I had too much medical issues, I couldn’t help it I wasn’t trying to stay out of work it’s just that if your job requires you to stand on your feet and your feet are in pain what are you gonna do. And I had a hole in my foot most people don’t know what that is but those ulcers are like a big blister except that they go really deep in your skin and they can go down to your bone and that’s where mine was in the bone and they were so afraid that it was infected so bad that it was gonna have to be amputated so it was really serious and I was in the hospital at Grady for a little while dealing with it. That was about a year ago when I found out that I was diabetic and that was what the problem was with my feet cause I didn’t know I was diabetic I thought what I had was just blisters on my feet because I walked a lot and stood a lot and I thought that’s what it was from I didn’t know the seriousness of it I just brushed it off because I never had any health problems before. But then being homeless exacerbates all of that cause I can’t take insulin I don’t have anywhere to keep anything cold and my diet is crazy whatever some days I eat, some days I don’t eat, I have to eat stuff that I know I shouldn’t eat because I know I’m diabetic but I have to eat and I can’t control it the way I would like to but I do have pills that I take and that’s the best they could give me considering my situation cause I tried to explain to them I don’t have any way to do the test strips I don’t have anywhere to keep anything so it’s just terrible and I wish that I could do better with it but I’ve lost some weight I used to be a 320 pound woman and size wise that’s a lady’s 28 dress and men’s pants I could wear a size 50 and I about to bust out of that and now I’m down to a 31 waist in men’s I don’t know what I wear in women’s because I gave up on wearing them cause my shape doesn’t fit the hour glass figure so the clothes just don’t look right on me (laughter) I’m better off buying men’s pants if I had an hour glass figure I would buy ladies clothes Its useless so my health has taken a toll on me and being homeless has really just made it a whole lot worse because if you have a home to go to, and a refrigerator, and a stove and can cook and all of that you can take care of your health a whole lot better and you can choose what you buy and like if you’re on food stamps they give you so little to survive on its just hard and my sons a big eater so he eats three fourths of our food stamps budget and I get about one fourth of it for me. And that one fourth that I get is not enough to buy the healthy stuff that I know I should eat and plus I don’t have anywhere to keep it so I have to buy like can stuff or stuff you can eat right now and there’s no heat no microwave, no stove, no way to cook anything so you eat it cold or you let it warm up in the sun that’s about the truth of it. So, my diet is not the best and sometimes I don’t I haven’t had food stamps to spend on it so sometimes I’ve just gone hungry. And I’ve gotten scraps here and there from different places but it just takes a toll on your health especially when you get to my age if I was 25 I probably would survive it a lot better but when you get older you have more medical issues it’s just tough to deal with it and it’s aged me a lot cause from the time I was 50 I looked about 38 maybe and I took a good hard look at myself in a bathroom mirror not too long ago and Oh my God I look like I’m about 75 what happened just the last year and a half or so has changed me that much that I feel like I look that old (nervous chuckles) I’m not gray yet but my face is all wrinkled I see things that I never saw before and I’m like my necks all sunken in like an old lady I went no, no, no I used to look half decent but now I’m looking old and I can’t fool anybody anymore (nervous chuckles) My self-esteems not all that great cause I don’t like what I see in the mirror even though I’ve lost all that weight I told myself oh you’re gonna look great when you lose the weight cause at 300 pounds I looked terrible but when I lost all the weight I still didn’t look good it didn’t help me any it didn’t make me feel any better yeah I could walk and do things because I had less weight to carry but it didn’t make me feel any better about myself like I thought it would so, yeah and on top of that then being homeless and not knowing where you’re gonna stay and I been kicked out some places and finally found an abandoned building to live in the cops came by there to run me out because they said that they can’t have homeless people hanging around tried to say it was a health hazard or something for that building because it was in disrepair and all of that and I’m like well you know it’s better to be under an awning and out of the weather than it is to be out in the middle of nowhere. And they were just trying to say well you need to move on and they threatened me and said they were coming back in an hour and if I wasn’t out of there they were going to lock me up for trespassing which never took place but I took my son and we went to Wendy’s to hang out and let it blow over cause the place where we are cars are restricted for coming there cause there’s a church and they lock the gates so the only time anybody could get back there is if their having a church service and this building that we’re in is in back of the church property and you have to go through a long parking lot and a bunch of weeds to get to it so most people would take one look at it and think it’s too creepy to even try to go back there so they won’t even chance it and we’re around the corner so nobody can see us so we’re not by the road or anything so we’re just out of harm’s way and we got privacy only thing we don’t have is a good way to block all the wind and to stay out of the cold we were there when it was warmer weather so it wasn’t so bad it was just the rain we had to worry about. There was a little flooding we were there when that tropical storm came through and it flooded out and fortunately where we were didn’t get very much flooding but we were able to manage it could have been so much worse and a big tree fell but it wasn’t on us so we got lucky with that according to this police officer that I talked to the owner of the building has known for years that he needed to fix the building and they’ve threatened him several times and said look we’re going to condemn the property and we’re going to take it for the city if you don’t fix it and he hasn’t done anything I don’t know how many years they warned him but the building looks like it’s been there since the 80’s so it is kinda rickety but at least it’s a little bit of a roof over our heads and we’re out of harm’s way and nobody knows we’re back there we sneak in and sneak out and we live the best we can. I have a Walmart that’s close by so I can go and get some groceries and bring stuff back and we eat in peace it’s just that we can’t cook anything so it has to be stuff that doesn’t have to be cooked it’s been a long time since I had a hot meal today I had one I got to eat Chinese food today and I hadn’t had that in ages but I the kind of stuff we have to eat is cold cuts, and hot dogs, and lunch meat, and things in a can and that’s about the extent of it and none of that’s really healthy but that’s what we’re forced to eat and I miss the days when I got up on Saturday mornings and cooked breakfast biscuit and gravy like my grandmother and bacon and I hadn’t had that in ages and I made homemade biscuits and gravy like the country way and I don’t get to eat that anymore I’m lucky to still be here after all we’ve been through and I’ve been a fighter and trying to stay together because of my son because he’s not quite old enough to be on his own yet he’s about 15 and a half so he can’t really work nobody’s gonna hire him until he’s 16 but hopefully that will solve a little bit of our problem if I can get him to go to work this coming Summer and least we’ll have a little bit of income if I can’t get anything cause I’m having trouble nobody wants to hire me and I feel like I still have something to contribute but it’s just my age and my health issues that make people scared of me I guess and because I guess when you look at me I look homeless I can’t pretend and fool anybody anymore I look a little too rough around the edges and for men it’s not such a big deal but for ladies we got to have our nails done and makeup and hair fixed and if you don’t have those things then they know somethings up with you and I can’t really hide that I can’t get a manicure my hands look terrible my face no makeup and my hair hadn’t been cut in over a year I trimmed it myself a little bit but I butchered it all up I just can’t fool people with the way I look anymore. So, when you go for an interview if you get that far they won’t talk to ya cause you look ugly and with women unfortunately it’s about how you look they don’t care what kind of job you had they just want to know what you look like I worked in customer service for years and talked to a lot of people and I like people that’s just me I’m friendly easy to get along with pretty much I guess that’s enough I’ll talk to you from now on if you’ll let me. That’s a long, long story and I’m still here.
Daniel: Dee, with all of the things you’ve accomplished or overcome in your life so far what are you most proud of?
Dee: That I have a son. Because I was told that I would never ever be able to have children in my early twenties and I gave birth to a child at age 41. It was pretty much a miracle I didn’t believe it was ever gonna happen to me, but it did and I’m thankful that I have a child to raise even though I’m a little older and it’s a little bit harder road to go when you’re my age but it’s worth it all I wouldn’t take nothing for my kid.
Daniel: Dee, you’ve gained a lot of hard-fought wisdom from experiences in your life so far if you were invited to share your wisdom with school kids in your community giving them guidance to live healthy, safe, stable and happy lives what would you tell them?
Dee: From my own experience I wish that I had followed more of my dreams of what I wanted to do when I was in high school and thought more about my career and what kind of life I was gonna have and planned that out a little bit better instead of just taking it the way it comes because I think I made some mistakes along the way because of different things and I should have had more goals and more plans about how to get where I was going and I let a lot of that go by the wayside and I just worked a job yeah I worked my way up and I made good money I’m not complaining about that but I just wish that I had thought more seriously about a career when I was younger and I would tell kids today to think more about that instead of when you get a little older and you’ve made some money you got more time to think about what makes you happy but in the beginning you probably were better off to think about what’s good for your career and that’s the wisdom I have about it. That’s what I’m telling my son because he wants to go into graphic designer and I told him that’s going to pay his bills and he really likes it but not everybody can find that job that they like and pays the bills cause sometimes a job you like just doesn’t pay the bills and sometimes the job you hate pays the bills so you have to figure it all out in your early years it’s better to go with something that can help pay your bills and you can save money and then when you get a little older you can do more of what you like to do.
Daniel: Dee, I’d like to switch to the present day. In what ways would you say that your life is going well these days? Please talk a little bit about how life is good for you at the present time.
Dee: Oh, that’s a tough one cause I don’t know cause I don’t see a lot of good. I’m happy to be alive I get
Up every morning thankful that I’m still here that I survived over the night because it’s been really tough over this past year and some of the things, I’ve experienced I don’t really feel like I have a lot to be (nervous laugh) happy about because just my life is not where I thought I would be at this age. But I guess it’s good that I’ve got room I’m still here, there’s still hope there’s still a chance to do something I’m just basically in hang on mode until I figure out what the next steps gonna be. I guess that’s about as positive as I can be about that it’s tough to be in a homeless situation and have hope at the same time cause all you see is negative things around you. But I’m still here and I’m still trying I’ve got plenty of room to grow I’m not kicking the bucket yet and I have a grandmother who lived to be up in her 90’s so I’m hoping that I get some of that too. She was 94 when she passed, she’d tell you in a heartbeat that she wasn’t old only thing that got her was that she got congestive heart failure cause she was never sick until she got up in her 90’s.
Daniel: Dee, I understand what you just said but I did also hear in your response how you talked about still growing and hope, and when you were telling your story I also heard a great deal of resilience and a positive mindset. What led to those parts of your life going well, how did that happen, who or what has contributed most to your doing well these days in the way that you just mentioned?
Dee: For me it’s a choice I choose to keep going it’s really a struggle it’s really hard, but I’ve got a son to raise I can’t just sit back and let it all go to hell because it’s not just about me anymore it’s about my kid and I got to do the best thing I can for him until he’s grown and can make his own choices, but I that’s part of the motivation for me cause I’m trying to keep it together for him. But, I’m just a strong person I’ve always been that way and I saw a lot of that in my grandmother she was a little bitty short red headed woman she was feisty as everything like I said at 90-years-old she was still feisty, and I’m like that’s who I want to be and if I get to live that long I want to be like her because she wasn’t dependent on people she did her own thing pretty much and I had to take her car keys away from her finally when she was 90 I had to tell her to quit driving because she had a wreck that’s the kind of life I envision for myself still be independent and still keep going keep my mind together and still be strong and it’s not really a (short pause) I just have to do it cause I have a kid now. I have to do that for him and that’s how I see it.
Daniel: Dee, looking ahead now when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life what are your hopes and dreams looking ahead?
Dee: Well, the next few years with me and my son but he’s planning to move to Florida when he’s grown and he’s wanting to go to college down there I don’t know what that’s going to entail for me if I want to follow him provide a home for him or if I want to let him go on his own do his own thing and then me do my own thing I’m still not sure about all of that yet but, I’m hopeful and positive that it’s all gonna go right whatever happens it’s going to be good but you know just looking at my current situation like right now I got up this morning it was 50 degrees outside and I was shivering and I’m sittin over there in a campin chair freezing to death don’t have a bed don’t have anything I’m looking out and there’s a mother racoon with 2 babies sittin there (laughter) So, that was my morning this morning yeah. I want things to go well but it’s like part of me is still reserved about it and thinking well you know it could go horribly wrong I don’t know I’m just trying to do the best as I can to stay positive about what’s going to happen. And so far I’ve survived things that make some people say I could never do that (chuckles) and probably a couple of years ago I might have said I could never do that I don’t know but when you’re thrown into stuff you sink or swim basically you gotta figure it out for yourself I found out that I’m a little tougher than I even thought I was and I had to be harassed by a homeless guy one time I had to really get tough keep him away from my kid and get him the heck out of my way (laughter) it was funny because he was actually scared I’m short, I’m really short about 5’3 and he was like 6’ but I was angry and yelling at him making him go away cause he was crazy and I was afraid he was going to harm me and my child and I’m not having it get outta here and he went thank God but I was not in the place where I’m at now I was in a different location then it was a little bit rougher it was in East Point.
Daniel: Dee, you’ve already taken a good path to answering this next question namely what are some of the personal strengths you draw on as you pursue your hopes and dreams?
Dee: Mostly my son has gave me a lot of strength to get through things cause I’m thinking he’s looking to me to be an example and yeah I have to do the right thing and be a good person and let him see that and of course he sees the struggles too he’s seen me cry, he’s seen me get upset about things and yell about things, he’s seen the whole nine yards but he’s the main reason I keep going. If it was just me, I’m thinking maybe if it was just me maybe I might give up I don’t know cause I wouldn’t have any reason to keep going if it was just me. My grandmother was a big influence in my life and she passed and my dad passed my mother and I don’t get along she’s still alive but she favors my brother and my brother and I don’t get along so, I don’t really have any family to speak of cause all the one’s I was close to are gone so I have to be tough for that because I don’t have anybody to turn to I have to find the strength whatever it is but I miss the days when I could go to my grandmother for advice and ask her about different things or talk to my dad about things he experienced neither one of them are here so I can’t talk to them now.
Daniel: Dee, what are the challenges and obstacles that you see standing between you and the realization of your hopes and dreams what holds you back?
Dee: Right now it’s my medical issues because I have trouble finding work and I’m still not old enough to officially retire although I wish I could it’s possible that I could get disability but that’s a long hard road too so without that I’m gonna have to work and I try to go and find jobs and get turned down it’s just it’s all about money basically if you don’t have money you can’t live. And you gotta find a way to pay for things if I don’t have a job then I’m not able to pay for anything and I wasn’t married so I don’t get any alimony or anything and my ex is not able to pay child support because he’s not legal so there’s no money for anything it’s just all on me and if I don’t work or whatever then I’m just without and that’s tough so I feel like if I had some kinda income then I could make a go of it cause I’m not crazy about spending money I can save and scrape by and do whatever I have to do I eat Ramen noodles and peanut butter and whatever else I’m not that picky when I made good money I used to eat steak and lobster and everything and then I think about that and all the money I wasted livin that way but I didn’t have a kid then either it was just me and I made good money so I didn’t really feel guilty about it that was my life but now I see how crazy that seems I’m like I could have eaten a lot less and saved a lot more money but a lot of things are hindsight.
Daniel: Dee, what needs to be done so that the challenges and obstacles you just mentioned can be overcome and you can realize your personal hopes and dreams?
Dee: I have to find some source of income whatever it may be, I’m not sure but there’s got to be some way for me to provide because at least for the next three years until my sons grown, I’ve got to figure out what to do. In my original plan I had thought I was going to retire at 62 and it just didn’t work out that way so that’s basically it I’ve got to find some source of income to keep going because otherwise I’m still going to be sleeping outside because if you don’t have money you can’t pay for your rent, you can’t buy groceries, you can’t do anything so that’s basically it and I’ve got it’s not just for me I’ve got two people to provide for so that means I need a lot more money cause I can live frugally myself and I could probably get into some senior citizen home if I didn’t have a child but that just kind of ruins all of that but I do get food stamps at least and that helps with my food budget it’s not a whole lot cause like I said my kid eats three fourths of that (laughter) and he’d eat the whole thing if I’d let him so, I’ve got to find some source of income somewhere and be creative I don’t know what to do I really don’t but I know there’s probably some talent or some ability that I have that I could probably make money with I just don’t know what it is.
Daniel: Dee, imagine you are a powerful leader imagine yourself as a decision maker who can really make things happen how would you change the system to help people in your community to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, save, stable, and happy lives?
Dee: Well, speaking for just the homeless community I would say that people need to be aware of it and know what they can do to help cause I’ve had people who have been willing to help me but you just have to realize what the problems are for the homeless community and figure out what you can do to help with that. I guess part of it would be trying to see them as people instead of people that you try to run from cause there’s so many people that don’t want to be around homeless people and don’t want them in their community I’ve experienced that in my own location where I live so I would want to change that instead of trying to tell the police to move em out, be mean to em, arrest em, and things like that makin it a crime I would say no do something about it and even involve the community itself and there might be people willing to donate clothes, food and just find a way to reach out to people in need and you never know all these people that you’re trying to help that’s homeless you might be in need one day you never know I would have said when I was 20-years-old that I was never going to be in this situation so you don’t’ know what your life is going to be in 10, 15, 20, 30 years down the road things may change for you and so you shouldn’t be so inconsiderate of other people you should try to help and I would want to let the community know that there’s things we can do to help with homelessness like provide a shelter like a warming shelter from the cold nights and a place for them to go so they won’t be harassed by the cops or whoever I was harassed by code enforcement and the cops and I said look this is my community I grew up here and I went to college here why are you so mean why do you have to be like that so that would be to try to change the perception of law enforcement and government and whatever instead of trying to persecute people and making it a crime to try to help them and that’s what I’d want to do with it cause I think they deserve help and even if they have mental issues they can still be helped you shouldn’t just write them off cause he’s crazy who cares about him but no there’s some help there they need medical attention they need some kind of service and that can be provided you don’t just write people off because their homeless.
Daniel: Dee, imagine you had a million dollars to spend to help your community to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives how exactly would you spend that money?
Dee: Well I had an idea that I wanted to start a homeless shelter for families because I’ve experienced so much rejection with me and my child that we couldn’t stay together and so many places told us that they don’t have a place for us because he aged out of the system or because he’s male and all of these excuses I’d be a place that didn’t have excuses and I’d say well if your family and you want to stay together we’ll help you and even if it’s just a warming shelter situation and not a full shelter at least it would be something that we could do to help people because I myself experienced having to get a free Marta pass and get on the train and ride the train all day just to stay warm because the shelter I was in kicked us out and gave us a one-way pass on Marta and so that was all we could do get on a bus and go to the train station and ride all day and that was it cause there was no way to keep warm at least we were on there we were warm we had internet (chuckles) that was the only way we survived this past winter cause we were in and out of so many shelters and you have such a short length of time and I feel like there is a need for that and that would be what I’d want to do with it try and find a way to help people in this situation and I know that in Clayton County specifically there’s just not any help for that there’s very few shelters at all there just seems to be a need for that here and as the population has changed there’s more people that need that kind of help and we should be able to do that I’d like to if I had that kind of money I thought the abandoned building where I was I’d like to turn that into a shelter (laughter) but they’re about to condemn it so there’s nothing I can do with it that was my idea for it and I wouldn’t turn people away cause you have a son who is 15 that kind of thing I’d be willing to work with families in that kind of situation and they want to stay together cause I understand how important that is I don’t have a husband so I need to be with my child and I wouldn’t want to be split up with him for nothin These shelters just have no heart and they think it’s okay to split families up and I don’t see it that way and another rant (chuckle) I have out of this is the religious angle to tell people what religion to follow and if you don’t follow our religion we don’t let you in I’m like if you’re getting government money to help you need not to do all of that and you accept whoever and if you really want to be Biblical about it God didn’t say that He hated people I get sick of that He said He even loved the sinners so where these Christians get off telling people you can’t stay in a shelter if you don’t go to our church or read our books of the Bible whatever I don’t see it that way if I had my money I’d make it wherever and I wouldn’t have those kind of restrictions because people need help no matter where they are.