Panhandling at an intersection, we met Brian, a 36-year-old army veteran who served his country for 10 years and had three combat tours; two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Brian has been living on the streets in Tucson for nearly 5 years.

“There are good days and bad days. Just like any other job that you’d work for tips. It’s like being self-employed.”

Depending on Brian, Buddy, his dog, continues to motivate him.

 

“There’s no one to fire you if you go home early. Having a pet is a motivation, because I have someone that is relying on me.”
Brian
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“I didn’t have to worry about paying bills, didn’t have to worry about the lights, the water. It was just wake up, live, survive and come home.”

 

Brian, reminiscing over his time in the military.

Although we had just one more Shelterbag left, Brian wanted to introduce us to his campmates and share the design with them.

On presenting a Shelterbag to Brian, he commented:

“This is very beneficial. It’s lightweight, and easy to carry around. It’s not a tent, so [authorities] can’t stop you, but it still gives you the sheltered protection.”

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Brian, who introduced us to Mike, invited us to see their makeshift shelter, an ever-changing structure that could sleep 3, sometimes 4, plus Buddy.

“The camp’s all quickly built, and can go up as fast as it comes down.”
– Mike
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Luis (58) used to live in Los Angeles, but came back to Tucson to take care of his mother before she passed away. She died 21 years ago.

“I have family here, but I haven’t been back home in 31 years.”

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Angel

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Mike 

 

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Christel

 

 

“I see great things come out of these people every day. I’ve seen people that are broke and asking for change giving their last quarter for somebody who is thirsty. Or give away blankets, so they have none.”

 

– Mike

 

 

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This campsite consists of multiple makeshift structures, each housing up to four people.

 

“Everybody here is pretty good to each other. We, as homeless people, know the extent of each other’s needs and what it really comes down to.

So when we see somebody that needs something, we usually don’t hesitate. It’s not even a second thought, and it’s not something we bring up later on.

But people that are afraid of, or avoid doing work, those people usually don’t last long in a camp.”

– Mike

 
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