The Reality of Disparity, Dirk, Homeless in Venice Beach, California
Reporting on California’s homeless, Invisible People share tent-dwellers’ stories on the new Skid Row, the outcome of years of disparity that’s only gotten worse since COVID19 gripped the economy. What can be done about it?
The story of Dirk
Dirk, 64 years old, originally from Idaho, has a tent in Venice Beach, California. Working as an independent contractor in Montana for 14 years, Dirk moved to California in January, at the start of the pandemic. It’s the first time he’s been homeless, his entire life, moving to get away from the cold winters.
“I decided I’d like to see a better climate because I’m tired. I’ve been in construction all my life. I’m tired. I’m tired of working. It’s time for me to retire.”
Dirk Reed, Tent Dweller, Venice Beach, Ca.
Dirk paid social security throughout his life, figuring it would provide for his security, filing two years ago only to learn he didn’t have enough credits. A self-employed carpenter, he made his final payment to social security on Memorial day and hopes now he has enough credits to receive a pension.
Living a stone’s throw from the beach since January, Dirk has stayed put since the pandemic started. Using a public restroom and a cold shower, he says, helps him cool off during summer. One wonders how he’ll react come winter.
Forever an optimist
Remarkably, Dirk remains an optimist, because regardless of whether one shares his religious belief, it’s his personal faith and recognition of humanity’s oneness that gives him hope.
Grateful for the food gifts passersby give him, Dirk feels that locals actually care. Beat cops allow him to remain there, as long as he’s on the sidewalk, ten feet away from the beach, and keeps the place clean.
Local government has allowed for the encampment during the pandemic, but by law, it’s a crime to live in a tent on the street. The problem is, that tent dwellers have adopted a mindset of bohemian freedom. Living on the street also saves paying municipal taxes and rent- something they’ll need to contend with when the pandemic is over.