Sally's Story

“My name is Sally Broshear, I am 58 years old. I didn’t become homeless until the middle of June 2016. That was the first time in my whole life that I’ve ever been homeless and it was due to a chain of events where my husband got sick with brain cancer and he passed away within nine months and I was left alone. I kept up the car payments and the house payments and everything for six months and then all of the money was gone. I had no choice. I had to leave our home of eighteen years and move in with his sister and her roommate. I could not stay there because of the dynamics of that relationship. It was a very negative and hostile environment. So I decided that I would rather live in my car. And I did and I was very happy and comfortable in my car - and then it was stolen two months after that in October of 2016. Since then I’ve actually been on the street. That’s a very scary thing when you’ve always had someone beside you to take care of you and guard your back. So I was terrifed at first. I always slept with one eye open. I never really slept. I still don’t, unless there’s friends nearby that can watch out for me.

It’s very scary for a woman, especially if you’re by yourself. You’re by yourself so you’re a target. You're a woman, so you’re a target. Anything and everything can happen. And you have to be very, very, very wary. Its a scary way to live all the time that way, but you always have to watch out and watch your back. There are friends you make out here, but not very many genuine ones, because people lots of times are on the take and use people.

The view from a society’s point of view seems to be very negative. We’re all drug addicts and we’re lazy and we don’t want to work and that’s far from the truth. There are people that way and some of them turn to drugs because they were out here and became so frustrated and didn’t know what else to do and so they chose that path. But the rest of us, we don't make enough money to qualify to move in anywhere or we’re on disability and we don’t have enough money to move in anywhere. Like my case, there’s no way and so we’re kind of stuck.

I’ve been staying along the creek here next door to a very good friend of mine, who I trust, on and off for a couple of years now. Its been a good safe place. Some people moved in that didn’t make it as safe anymore, drew attention that they shouldn’t have. Unfortunately those are the homeless people that make us look bad, do things they shouldn’t do - break the law and do things like that and so we tend to get grouped as all being the same. And I just want people to know that we’re not all like that. A lot of us are decent hardworking people and we don’t want to be this way. We don't want to live this way and its very, very hard. I just don't want people to give up on the homeless in general and just say, “Oh you know, forget about it. They don’t care, they’re lazy whatever, cause a lot of us aren’t, were good people.” A few of the best friends I’ve ever made in my life out here are genuine people that would give you the shirt off of their back, even when they don’t have anything,. And that’s wonderful to see. Good caring people.

My most terrifying experience was when I was riding the 68 into San Jose and I was standing on the light rail platform to get the bus back and it was about ten o’clock at night. I’m standing there and there were other people around, I wasn’t isolated. And from across the street a black man came running and I didn’t see him, until he was right in front of me. And he ran into me like a football player tackles somebody. He knocked me off my feet and into the hard metal bench edge and my ribs went into it and i fell to the ground and I broke some ribs in my back. I had to go to the hospital. All the sheriffs came and took a report and they said he did a similar crime a couple of blocks away to another white woman.

Now I understand what Post Traumatic Stress is like, because I kept seeing it in my mind. I kept seeing this guy rushing me wherever I went, for months and months after, and it was terrifying. That was really scary and you’re wondering is that going to happen again or something worse?

And the thing is, he knocked me down and I looked up at him and said, “Whats the matter with you? Weren’t you looking? Or what?” I couldn’t think of what to say. And he says, “Oh I’m sorry,” and he drew back his fist and he punched me in the side of the head. And then he left. And I’m just sitting there bewildered, thinking, what the hell was that? SO that’s scary and that came out of the blue and theres nothing I could have done. It was just boom in my face. I don’t know if they ever found him because I lost my phone and they didn’t have a number to contact me, but I hope so, because an hour later he did it to another lady a couple of blocks away.

But that kind of stuff could come out of the blue. People pretend to be your friend, but you don’t know if they are or not, and you just don't know who to trust. Unfortunately because I’m by myself I have to keep a knife. The thought terrifies me about having to hurt somebody, even if they’re trying to hurt me. I don’t want to do that, but if I have to, I will.

Two years ago through the Compassion Center I was put on a list, but nothing ever really came of that. They’re building that big apartment complex on tenth street down in Gilroy. It was supposed to be low income but it’s not. You have to pay a lot more and earn three times the amount of the rent, so that’s out of the picture. And my social security is not sorted yet.

I don’t know how you can prepare yourself for losing your home, because no one sees it coming. Save as much money as you can in a separate account, so that you have money if you need it. Watch out for each other and learn from watching other people. It’s very important that you keep your eyes open and watch everything, and just be smart, you know what I mean? Yeah.

Home means to me a sanctuary from the world, where you can go and feel safe and secure. It’s your own little place, no matter how small it is, its mine. I really miss that, cause all of my possessions are gone. I don't have a place to live anymore. This isn’t home. Its not where I want to live. I hope to have a home again someday. Home means safety and serenity and peace. That’s what home means to me.

The sweeps take a lot of energy out of me. My breathing has been a lot worse, because of all the smoke and stuff in the air. And just basically my health in general has kind of deteriorated, because this is not an easy life and it takes a lot out of an old lady. I’m just trying to do the best that I can and i’m trying to keep hope alive.”