Guest Column: Homeless Man Lives on $92 a Month

Richard B., a 57-year-old resident of the Cochran House homeless shelter in Hastings, writes about his experience living in a homeless shelter and looking for work.

Being a 57-year-old, I’ve learned patience and acceptance in my life. At Cochran [House], I appreciate having meals, a bed to sleep in and a place to live.

It’s hard to establish goals at my age because I'm not sure what my options are. I’ve learned to get by on my $92 a month, but I have no incentive to get a part-time job as the earnings from it have to go right back into the house.

As sad as it sounds, it’s easier to read, do crossword puzzles and do volunteer work, [than it is] to look for a documented (taxable) part-time job.

Hastings is a nice town but it’s a tough place to find a full-time job. I feel I'm at a disadvantage because of my age, lack of driver's license and no vehicle. None of these three things look good on a job application. As far as jobs, I’ve been out of my career field and past occupations for so long it would be next to impossible to get a similar position. Those jobs were drafting and quality  assurance positions.

I'm not sure these days if I could do assembly line work eight-plus hours a day, if I could get a job doing it.

I’ve heard I could apply for Social Security and with the various programs offered probably get an apartment in St. Paul. On the flip side of that is to be living off the state and I'm not a big-city guy.

So when I ask myself what my goals are and what my future holds, my answer is I really don’t know.  In the end, I don’t like the label “homeless”, but I feel that Cochran is somewhat of a safe haven for me.

Until I figure out options; job training, school, social security, vehicle, drivers license, full/part-time job, etc. Cochran is where I'll be as long as it's available to me.

—Richard B.

Editor's Note: Homelessness rates in Dakota County and other suburban communities in Minnesota have risen substantially in the last five years. This letter to the editor is part of a Patch series exploring that trend. Click on the links below to read other articles on the topic.

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