Faces of homelessness: He holds a sign on the street to support his family

NEW FACE OF HOMELESSNESS

You might spot Brett Clevidence, with sign in hand, standing on a street corner in the Portland area.

"I hate doing it. I hate the fact that I did it for so long. It's been a year off and on, whenever incomes weren't enough," Brett said. "That's what I resorted to."

"There's nothing wrong with asking for help, especially if you're being honest," he added. "But you get a lot of mean looks." 

He holds signs to make the money he needs to help support himself and his girlfriend.

"[She was] one of my coworkers. I ended up falling in love with her," he said.

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And she has four kids that he tries to support too. The road has been tough, to say the least.

"I feel...way less than human," said his girlfriend Alicia.

She said what started their homelessness was a no-cause eviction she experienced right before the two met.

"You could lose everything just like that, and that's exactly what happened," she said.

Alicia said she was evicted because she was four days late for her rent and asked for a little extra time to pay.

She went to court trying to fight it, but that racked up fees.

"She also had $3,000 of attorneys and court fees added to it," Brett explained. "So the total is like $6,700 from the eviction."

Still, he and Alicia put in applications for places to live with the tax returns they recently received. But after spending the majority of the money on application fees, they were turned down each time.

While Alicia has a full-time job, Brett said no place will rent to them because of the debt they owe on the eviction.

They've tried shelters.

"All the kids just kept getting sick, hand foot mouth and just really bad stuff," Brett said.

So for now, Alicia's four kids are staying with her ex-husband, family or friends while Alicia and Brett bounce between sleeping at a motel or hammocks outside.

Brett said he believes they're spending more money than they would if they had a stable place to stay.

"When you live in a hotel, you don't have a kitchen. You don't have ways to do things like you normally would. So you're going to resort to going out to eat more. So it's just bad," Brett said. "You're going to eat at fast food and eat horrible food. It's bad for your body or you pay way too much money and not have any savings." 

He said when he's holding his sign, he's asking for help and hoping for a smile.

"What would it feel like if no one wanted to help you?" Brett asked.

He said he relies on his faith in these tough times. An upside is that he has some leads on a job. The ultimate goal is getting a roof to sleep under.

Some friends have set up a GoFundMe account for Brett and Alicia. Click here for more info or if you'd like to help

 

KGW


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