Born in Queens, NY
San Francisco resident since 1971
My name is Robert and I have been in DISH supportive housing for a year and a couple months. My mother passed when I was three. She had left my dad who was in the military and my grandparents wanted to raise me so they fought my dad for custody. It took a few years but my father won and he took me to live with a whole new family that I had never known. It was a very traumatic time. It just seemed like nobody paid any attention to me at all. When I was about 15, I took the GED and got emancipated and just went to live in the park. I got to know the Rainbow Family of Peace and Light and all the hippies. We would go to The Grateful Dead shows together. Then a little bit of time went by and I got married and I had two daughters. In 1996, my wife got killed. I guess I kind of fell apart. My parents-in-law came and took my daughters. Basically my whole life changed and I didn’t handle it very well. I started to drink and do drugs. I lost everything. Ended up out in Golden Gate Park for 16 years. I got cancer and every time I had an operation I’d stay in the hospital for a few days but then ya know, I would have to leave and so I’d be out in the park taking pain medications and trying to sleep. I tried to explain to the park rangers and they’d still write me tickets. I think they said I had 146 sleeping tickets. I mean maybe they just felt they really had to do their job but it’s like “how am I ever going to get out of this situation if you just keep throwing dirt on top of me when I’m in the hole?” Give me a ladder to crawl out or ya know, drop me a lifeline.