Bozeman News

Feb 10, 2011 1:01 PM by Dan Boyce and Judy Slate

Homeless in Bozeman Part 2: Homeless by Circumstance

While some of Bozeman's homeless men and woman choose to be homeless, for others it's no choice at all.

Adam is homeless. He's been on the streets for two months. He rifles through his bag, uncovering socks, shirts, underwear, snacks and toiletries. His life is boiled down to what he can carry on his back.

"This is everything that I own, outside of a propane stove that's not here," Adam explains.

Adam says bad decisions and bad luck got him here.

"I moved here for another person and apparently things didn't work out, they put me on the street so here I am now," Adam said.

Adam's not alone.

Spending time with members of Bozeman's homeless community KBZK reporters Judy Slate and Dan Boyce found about a dozen or two dozen people in Bozeman who are truly homeless.

Many of them come to Amos House for meals.

"Two meals a day, showers, clothing a place to some in out of the cold. Sometimes we're real busy and sometimes we're real slow, so it doesn't matter, the option is open," Paul Thomas of Amos House said.

Adam gets most of his gear here, including bedding and sleeping rolls.

"Without Paul, for the most part, a lot of us would be really lost as far as clothing and meals here," Adam said.

Many of these men say this is the life they choose. This is the way they want to live. They call themselves "TRAMP."

"Truly righteous and moral people," another man, Gary, explained.

But for Paul and Kim it's a different story.

"Both of us have worked all of our lives. Quite honestly I'd rather be working," Paul, who is in a wheelchair, said.

Paul and Kim live in their car. When Paul had a nasty fall it left them with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. They are hoping for social security someday, but in the meantime much of the cash they get goes to surviving.

"Recently we've been putting a lot of it towards gasoline because we start the car for 10 minutes. It's warm, we turn it off," Paul said.

Adam also hopes being homeless is only a temporary bump in the road.

"I'm willing to work, if somebody said, ‘Get in, let's go to work. I'd say, ‘Let's go.' I don't care what we're doing at least I'm working," Adam said.

But Adam has found being homeless and trying to find work nearly impossible.

"Once you get on the street and you don't have a permanent address, they don't want to give you a job. If you walk in the door with a pack on, you got all your gear they look at you and say, 'He's homeless. We're not going to hire him.' How are we supposed to get off the street? How are we supposed to get a job?" Adam explained.

Back at Amos House Adam and others look through the classifieds, make a few calls and shoot the breeze. Then it's back to the street.

"All in all we're just a bunch of people trying to keep out of trouble, not cause any harm, make it through another day," Adam said.

Tune in Thursday night when KBZK reporters Judy Slate and Dan Boyce show you what we found out about panhandling and see how Bozeman's homeless spend their nights.

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