Homeless during a pandemic

Selina in Toronto

Through a broken face mask that she had to hold in place, Selina told my dad and I that her life, that was already hard before the pandemic, has become almost unbearable. “Everything is shut down!” she exclaimed. “Even here [at Fred Victor Housing] I can’t even visit someone to spend the night. You’re stuck! I can’t go shopping to get new clothes….All the injection sites are closed down. I’ve overdosed four times.” “So the injection sites are shut down?” my dad asked Selina. “Yes and no,” she replied. “Before you used to go there and hang out and get high and stuff. But now you just have to use and go. What happens when you leave? You’re ******! You’re sitting outside all high. You get robbed. You get ******* raped!” Selina, then, told us about a recent harrowing experience in which she overdosed and woke up at the hospital. “I woke up in the morning, all drugged up with whatever drugs they drugged me with at the hospital, with nowhere to go. They don’t realize that there’s no shelters. The shelters … you can only go if you’re there at 8:30 at night until 7:30 in the morning. Then what? All the 24-hour drop-ins that are usually available, you can’t even go inside. And it’s ******* cold at night!” “Where do you sleep at night?” my dad asked Selina. “I don’t. I walk around,” she replied dejectedly. When my dad asked Selina if she is eligible to receive any money from the government, she replied, “Everything, like, to do is … you have to do by phone, you know? So it’s harder to get things done. The government’s offering money, but I don’t have my SIN number.” “So you can’t receive any money?” asked my dad. “Well … I don’t have an address to send it to,” she replied. “And I don’t have a bank card because I don’t have my ID.”

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