Wake up on the street, pack up all belongings, bathe in a public bathroom sink, attempt to find something to eat; for more than 50,000 homeless Los Angeles residents, these tasks make up a typical morning. For Ally and Eddie Posyananda, this morning routine is just one of the many reminders they are using as fuel to get them off the streets and back into a home. The couple has become part of what is considered “the homeless capital of the United States,” according to April Lindh, community relations coordinator at the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
This is an all too common occurrence, with the amount of the city’s homeless population increasing 15 percent, from about 50,000 in 2011 to more than 58,000 in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).
Ally and Eddie have been together for 20 years, despite dealing with illness, becoming homeless and various other hardships. Through it all, they say their loyalty to each other and positive outlook is what keeps them going.
How did you end up on the streets?
Ally: We lost our apartment about two months ago because Eddie got laid off and my job was crap. I made hardly any money selling pharmaceuticals. We had a sister and mother who lived with us, which is the reason we’re on the street pretty much, because they wouldn’t help us. They were just sucking us dry. They moved in with somebody else in the South Bay. We can’t care. We just can’t help them anymore. We helped them until it helped us into the ground. We didn’t even live alone a year until his mother moved in with us.
Did you ever have a job?
Eddie: I was a mailroom guy at a collection agency called Grant & Weber, but my position was dissolved. My duties were file management. I helped out with data processing and IT. I was also a machinist at one time, but I had to quit that because of my health. My lungs had partially collapsed because of the environment I had to work in. That’s when I got into office work.
Ally: I was a nanny for a long time, but there are very few nanny jobs out here. Most of them want you to drive and I can’t drive anymore since I lost my license because of a ticket.
How do you use the money from General Relief* you receive?
Ally: They gave us about $500 the first time, because that was two months worth. Right now we don’t have any money at all, so I’m kinda freaking out because we have no money for food and still have four days left until we receive anything.
*General Relief: A county-funded program that provides financial assistance to indigent adults who are ineligible for federal or state programs.
How are you going to deal with that?
Ally: We’re going to go steal.
Eddie: When it comes down to it, we do what we have to.
Ally: We have like two or three dollars left on our food stamp card, so we are going to go tomorrow and get something for a few bucks at the Dollar Tree, and steal the rest. What else can we do? We can’t starve.
What did you do when you finally received the $500 from General Relief?
Ally: We have a storage unit we keep all of our stuff in, so we had to go pay that off because it was due, but then we just went and ate so much food. We went through that money quick. We bought some drugs and some tequila and got our drunk on.
Eddie: We don’t drink too much though.
Ally: If anything it’s decreased because we cant afford it.
Have you been treated differently since living on the street?
Ally: A lot of people just don’t care. We’re just people. There has been a couple of times over by the Salvation Army where someone would come up to me, but they’re usually drunk and I just tell them to leave us alone.
What are you doing to get off the streets?
Eddie: I’ve been applying for jobs, but no one has called me back because they’re looking for an address. When I give my mailing address, which is the social service office, they move on to the next application. Some day somebody will give me a job; I’m going to keep trying. Some people that I’ve seen don’t really try to do anything, and it’s easy to get stuck; but we’re not giving up. It’s not like we don’t work; we’ve always worked.
Ally: He has never been out of work this long, ever in his life. We were always part of the normal working society, and we will be again, I know it. I’m not staying here forever, hell no. We just keep going everyday.
Why don’t you stay in a shelter?
Ally: I called when I first found out we were going to be homeless, and they only had one bed. A lot of them will separate the men and the women, and we want to stay together. I’m not going to be separated from my husband, so forget it. It’s hard enough on the street, much less being separated. I would never go for that. He’s my rock.
Eddie: They think separating the men and the women will make it safer, but it’s not very safe there anyways.
Has your relationship been effected by everything you’re going through?
Ally: It is stressful, and I tell him that I hate him at least once a day. I don’t mean it. I just tell him that. He’s really my rock.
Eddie: Whatever gets her by. I just take it. Anything to keep her from crying; sometimes she breaks down.
Ally: We have our ups and downs, but this is just another thing we are going to get through together.
What do you miss most about having a place to stay?
Eddie: We are new to this, so everything is really bad. I really miss showers and having a place to go back to, an actual bed to sleep in. But my true motivation is to not have to push this damn cart around anymore. Constantly packing up and setting up is really tiring.
Ally: I’m just always so bored. If we were home we’d at least have the tv on. I really miss my show General Hospital. I also miss being able to cook. I want my eggs and I can’t cook them. He (Eddie) makes the best fried chicken in the whole damn world.
What do you do to pass the time?
Ally: I have to have my books, no matter what. Without a book out here, I would be dead.We go to the library every five days or so to get me more books. I sometimes go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and exchange my books as well. Lately I’ve just been leaving them wherever so people can find and enjoy them too; share the love. I also played the flute for seven years and I sing; music is my life. But it’s like I shut that part off right now. I can’t deal with it, I just can’t.
How has living on the streets affected you emotionally?
Ally: When we were first homeless, I was very angry. I didn’t want to be here. The first week I just cried and cried and cried. I don’t know how I got over it. I’m just too naturally up to remain down for too long.
Do you take any responsibility for becoming homeless?
Eddie: We were thrown in this situation; I mean it was part our fault because of the money and the financing. We didn’t have our rent money when we should have but our landlord was the one that kinda put us out on the street because he could have accepted our money when we had it. Most of our friends had moved out of the area and the ones who were here were in no position to help us out. We don’t choose to be homeless; I don’t know anyone that does. There are different situations for every person. You just don’t know this person.
Do you have a goal of where you want to be a year from now?
Ally: I don’t look at things like that; I don’t look ahead and say like I want to be this I want to be that. I’m living it and I just live.
Eddie: We like to live more in the present. We’re just trying to be happy.
How long do you see yourself being homeless?
Ally: We are hopefully going to hook up with my friend Jessica to get off the streets. If not, then I don’t know.
Eddie: I’ll give it three months.
Ally: Three months?!
Eddie: Unfortunately, we’ve realized we can’t rely on other people, so we can’t be too sure.
Ally: I’m not going to be homeless forever. I just can’t and won’t. I want out of here.