Updated: Mar 6
The Forgotten on the Streets of Indianapolis Dec. 19, 2019 by Shelby Lopez
The Newlyweds | Tiffany and Billy Hardesty
"Monday a pastor came and married us here on the street. We aren't married by law, but now we're married in the eyes of the lord. The pastor got us a hotel room at the Hilton around the corner for 4 days as our 'honeymoon'. We check out tomorrow morning. We're grateful to get out of the cold, but the staff makes it very obvious we are NOT welcome there. Now we have people calling us frauds everywhere we turn. They don't understand our room was a gift. I haven't ate since yesterday morning. We're so hungry, we don't even want money we just want some food but with everyone calling us frauds, it's been pretty hard to get even that today."
An hour after parting ways with the Newlyweds, I crossed paths with Tiffany again. She was in the process of receiving a cigarette and a coat from a generous passerby. The wind adding to the 21 degree day made for bone chilling conditions. There was a sense of relief in her voice after receiving the gift. For the second and final time, she filled me in on a few more details of the street struggles, particularly for women, who've become targets of local sex traffickers.
"I've tried getting help for us online. There's so many Facebook groups for homeless support, but most are frauds. We just need a little boost to get off the ground but we've gotten a lot of creeps that try to take advantage of me instead. Just the other day I had a guy from a groups offer us a place to stay IF he could do explicit things to me and he's not the only one that's pulled that. It's sick. It's why we're still out here."
Better but not Best | Clifton Deering
"I was homeless and slept on these streets for a year and a half after my divorce. I'm not
sleeping on the streets now, but I'm still technically homeless. If I was technically homeless. Better than I was. If I was rich, I'd buy a huge house and let anyone stay that didn't have a place to go and feed them. It's hard out here, it's really hard.
The Lifetime of Loneliness | Dean Gasper: 55 years old
"I've been homeless two thirds of my life. Drugs aren't really the reason. I believe it's from the stem I came from. My parents split up and I was in and out of foster homes. I ran away at fourteen. I've had a job and a life, I worked at Steak and Shake for twenty two years. I really lost stability after my divorce. I've been on the streets basically ever since. My divorce was in 1990."
One Way Street To Nowhere | Ashley Mason and Emil Wells
"They've been taking mailboxes and other things we use for wind blocks away to try and run us off in the winter. It's like we don't exist, but we're still people."
The Abandoned Sales Man | William Lloyd: Homeless since 2005
"I'm actually from Virginia but I took a job as a travelling sales man for magazines. I used to get paid. They'd take us state to state, drop us off for sales and pick us up later. I guess one day I was late or something, they left without me. I've been here ever since."
Joseph Henthorn, 22, was released from incarceration in 2019 and had nowhere to go but the streets of Indianapolis that he calls home.