This is Cadence, an Ontarian I found sitting outside Old Navy on Robson. He was hungry, and immediately tore into the loaf of cheese bread upon receiving it. His sign reminded me of what happened to Cosmo, so I asked if he would be willing to tell me his story. Tears welled up in his eyes, and at first he could not speak. I prompted gently him with some questions, and he told me how he came to be on the streets.
Cadence hails from Toronto and only arrived in Vancouver 6 months ago. Lured by the promise of a job as a window washer by a local company, he gathered up his belongings and hopped on the Greyhound subsidized by the company. He was told that he had a two-week grace period to arrive and settle down before taking up the job, but little did he know that on March 1, 2015, the 11th day upon his arrival in the city, he was already replaced by another worker, thereby putting him out of work. Having no other source of income and knowing no one in the city, Cadence was forced to live in shelters. One night, in his sleep, Cadence was robbed of everything he owned, including his computer and clothes. Unfortunately, this was not a one-time occurrence, as over the last few months people continued to steal his belongings during his sleep. He shifted places frequently, hoping to avoid becoming victimized further, yet each time losing still more property until the last time his ID were taken, leaving him with absolutely no means to travel. His family and friends were back in Toronto. Sadly, because his cell phone, in which he stored all their contacts, was stolen as well, Cadence was unable to reach them.
Upon hearing Cadence’s situation, I directed him to the local libraries (to set up guest accounts so that he could have internet access to contacts) as well as a local charity that offers daily hot meals. Fortunately, Cadence also took the initiative to re-apply for his ID and was just waiting for it to arrive at a local shelter that provided a forwarding address. Before I left him, I offered Cadence a fresh muffin kindly provided by a lady from the bakery section of a local grocery store and a voice on social media. Cadence was willing to share his story to the public in the hope that it would help raise awareness of the theft problems so rampant amongst the local homeless population as well as to pass on this vehement message: Stop stealing our stuff!!
Cadence’s story was highly reminiscent of Cosmo’s, which suggested a very severe problem amongst the homeless population. His situation is exacerbated by a lack of knowledge about the local resources, which could be more easily remedied than the thieveries that appeared to be so prevalent. Cadence was very affected by his experiences and had tears in his eyes the entire time while speaking with me. Often, not knowing what to say, he would become silent and shook his head in expression of his despair. I told Cadence that his courage to share his story would help raise awareness in the community and possibly help set up a fundraiser through GoFundMe in the hope that more targeted and substantial resources could be provided.