My name is Shirley Chalker. I am 71 years old and I am homeless. Back in December 2016, my landlord told me that I had to move because all of the houses for three blocks were going to be torn down for a new dollar store in Owosso. This is when my life changed. I was able to find another house to rent on Stewart Street until the owner raised the rent too high and I was unable to pay it. I have always paid my rent. Since then, I have lived with a few friends, but couldn’t stay with them long. As of April 2018, I became homeless.
No one knows what a person goes through being homeless. I have to store my belongings in a storage unit. I had to give up my pet dog, Scooby, who I had for nine years – ever since he was a puppy! I slept under the Main Street Bridge to get out of the rain, two people hit me with their bikes, so I started to sleep on the park benches.
My only income is social security and 551 because I’m disabled. The waiting lists for places to live are long. One place said they wouldn’t have anything available for eight years. The new subsidized units like at Lincoln House are beautiful, however, out of 28 units, only four of them are subsidized.
Angel’s Hands Outreach in Owosso is wonderful. Angel’s Hands helps the homeless all the time with food, clothes, dishes and bed sheets. I would like to thank the very many special people who have helped me survive up to now, giving me food, money, bringing me food, a sleeping bag to keep me warm on cold nights, and also for the words of encouragement.
I would just like to ask all of you who are reading this, why the issue of homelessness is not being addressed more in our community?
Shirley Chalker, Owosso
Editor’s Note: Angel’s Hands Outreach is located in Westown on the south side of Main Street.