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  • Writer's pictureNox Yang

Cat: Being homeless and living in a tent - this is the lowest point of my life

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

In a park I frequently visit, I've always seen many tents set up by homeless people. I met Cat at one of the tents.


"I grew up in Koreatown and lived by this park for 5 years.

My mom was with someone at the time, so we moved over here. But she broke up with him, and he kicked us out. My mom should’ve kept that house. Now she also lives in the park.

Sometimes I go to live with one of my sisters, and we would share one bed. She has a baby now.

So basically all my family lives in LA, and they know where I am."

"Usually I go to McDonald’s or Burger King to eat. I also get food stamps from the General Relief in LA County and I can use the stamp to exchange free food from certain shops.  

All you need to do is go to their office and tell them you’re homeless. They will help you to register and give you the assistance."

"My source of income is from panhandling by a sign. You write something on the board and ask people for money. I do it every two or three hours, usually by the post office, or Seven Eleven. I can make a good amount of money.

It’s funny that there’s a lot of people wanting to do panhandling by Seven Eleven, so we need to take turns."

"Those homeless who don’t do panhandling usually steal. I used to steal, and I used to drink a lot. But now I only do panhandling.

There are good and bad days. Someday I only get 5 bucks, but there are days I can get 80. There was once a person gave me a 100, and I was like this has to be fake and I went to ask someone if the money is real. I couldn’t believe it when they say the money is real. But sometimes you can meet good people like this."

"I have an Obama phone that’s given out for free when Obama was the president.

To charge my phone, I often go to the church next to the park. The church has a big parking lot and you can always find places to charge you phones. But they've become more strict recently. They have securities right now. And if they see people sleeping in the parking lot, they will kick them out. Besides the parking lot, I also go to the library to charge my phone. "

"I met my boyfriend three years ago. My friend here introduced him to me.

We used to have a van and I always had a cart. But we got too many tickets and they took away the car. This is our first time living in a tent. It’s not the same. You can’t move when you live in a tent. You have to stay here. And we can’t lock our stuff up.

The police come sometime. They would ask us to take it down. Once my boyfriend had to leave to do something and I had to put everything up by myself. I joked to him that he picked a good time to leave."

"Me and my sister lived in foster care for a while. Cos my mom is always a party person, she always plays the music really loud late at night. And she drinks a lot.

At that point, she started to drink more, and because her case was going on, they took us away from her and put us to a foster home. We were lucky that we had a very nice foster mom because I heard terrible experiences before. My mom got us back after a year and a half.  "

"I used to work at a clinic and I was living with my mom at that time. She’s happy that I’m working and she would make everything I wanted to eat. But I stopped going to work because I was getting high. My body couldn’t function, and I couldn’t be around people. And things just got worse and worse.

I first got into drugs at 17. I went to drink with people of my age a lot. Someone gave me meth so I just tried."

"My mom also does drugs, but it's only because she needs something to keep her up so that she can drink more. 

My sister, the one with a baby, she’s a straight-up pothead. She’s just a stoner. She knows her stuff about weed because her job is selling drugs to many people. There are people depend on it; her moods depend on if she’s high. She’s the nicest person in the world when she’s high.

I have another sister. She’s the smartest in our family. She is a Christian, 18, now married. She never does drugs, and I don’t remember she ever drinks."

"These cuts are from my teenage years. I used to cut myself when I was young. I just wanted to feel the pain. I had to feel something. But I didn’t really want to kill myself.

My mom and sister cried about it. But now they just think I’m crazy.

I thought about killing myself. But you have to take a lot to get to that point. I don’t really have the ball to do it."

"The biggest problem now is my health. I got abscess from doing drugs. My arm has been infected twice. It’s all messed up.

And my nerves. I can’t feel my fingers any more. I've got it for a month. I want to get my health back.

Getting married, having babies, things like these, me and my boyfriend never thought about. We just want to get out of here together. Now this is too much, living in a tent for a month. Some people in this park have lived in tents for a long time, but it’s too much for me. "

"This is the lowest point in my life.

All I want is to get sober, get back my health, and get out of this situation, get a place, a real house to live."


Narrator: Cat

Photographer & Editor: Nox

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