You’re Homeless? You Owe $600.

Richard* admits he was sleeping under a bridge. He likes to think of it as camping, but the truth is, he was homeless. He had no idea it was against the law.

Picture of RichardThe police showed up and fined him. “It’s a $300 fine,” he says. “But with fines and fees and assessments it’s $600.”

Ironically, if Richard had $600, he wouldn’t have been sleeping under that bridge in the first place. He had owned a successful espresso business, popular with the well-to-do in Totem Lake. But when a drive-thru coffee stand opened next door, he couldn’t compete. As his business failed, Richard’s wife left, taking his two little boys with her.

“It put me in a tailspin that I never recovered from,” he says.

Richard had no income. His family was gone. Then he lost his home. He lived in his car for three years . . .

A deep depression set in, making it hard for Richard to hold a job. He had a warrant against him because he hadn’t been able to pay child support. When his car broke down and was eventually towed, he had nothing left but what he could carry.

That’s when “camping” in Everett led to a ticket he couldn’t pay. Even as he was forced to stay on the move all night, his fine grew larger, robbing him of hope that he’d ever get back on his feet.

“I’m not a criminal because I’m poor,” Richard says.

Living on Powdered Jello and Peanut Butter

His lowest point came when he took refuge in a barn for three days. “I had just a tiny bit of peanut butter and some powdered jello,” he recalls. “On the third day I started to hurt inside. I could feel my organs screaming for water.”

He knew he wouldn’t survive without a good meal and some fresh water. He used his last ounces of energy to walk all the way to Smokey Point. People he knew there barely recognized him. He felt invisible.

“I’m still the same person, but people perceive you differently when you’re homeless.”

Thankfully, a couple of Good Samaritans who did remember him, gave him a meal, a place to stay the night and bus fare to Everett Gospel Mission the next morning.

“For 10 years, I wanted to die so bad,” he remembers. “Being at the Mission is an opportunity for me. It really, truly is,” he says.

So many others like Richard feel abandoned, alone and invisible. Your Thanksgiving meals can give them hope, and even save a life. It only takes $2.10 to provide a meal for a hungry man, woman or child. Please click here to give now.

Thank you for caring for those in desperate need!

*Name changed to protect his privacy.