Jaysen Carr was a 34-year-old caregiver in the state of Louisiana when, one morning before church, his entire life changed.
After a staph infection spread to his leg, the infectious area had to be cut off and removed, resulting in the loss of half his leg. Carr’s employer at the time had been gracious enough to continue employing him after this incident, but he was let go after his client passed away.
With the loss of income and without a family that was able to help support him, Carr lost everything he had: his apartment, car and the ability to provide for himself.
He chose to relocate to Seattle after learning about the many resources that would be able to help him in this situation.
“I had it all until my mind and body started attacking itself. Seattle gave me a shot. It gave me opportunities to find resources for shelter, food, and clothing. It gave me a chance at life,” he said.
Once he found a home in Tent City, he began to work for Real Change, a weekly newspaper that is sold by homeless vendors. This provided him with an income as he started to build his life from the ground up again.
Tent City has also provided him with work as security guard five times a week in exchange for shelter. Prior to securing these jobs, he found difficulty in finding work due to mental and physical disabilities and conditions.
“I couldn’t work the way I used to. With my back problems, I’m no longer able to lift as much as I did when I used to work in construction,” he said, “and with my mental disabilities, I’m not able to remember files or details to work in a place where those things are necessary. I had already had trouble comprehending things as a child. It only got worse as time went on.”
Carr has been thankful for Tent City the last two years, because through this organization he is able to meet people who are in the same situation as he is. It is a reminder, he said, that you are not alone.
“No matter how good of a person you are, bad things still happen to good people. Your career can be over in a second. When we’re doing well, we don’t think about the bad things that could happen. However we must trust God to protect us,” Carr said.
By keeping people off the streets, Tent City saves people from falling into the downward spiral of drugs and alcohol by providing shelter, food and opportunities for employment in a supportive community. Carr mentioned that people who are on the streets tend to give up, that some end up staying on the streets for the rest of their lives.
He cautions that we must help the homeless quickly before it is too late.
“It’s hard being kicked when you’re already down on the ground. We should be helping others get back up on their feet. Don’t judge a good person in a bad situation,” he said.
The only thing he hopes will be improved in the future is the amount of time Tent City has to stay at each location. “We have to consistently hunt for our next location. It puts a lot of pressure on us to quickly find a place every two to three months. I only wish that we were given a longer time period, possibly six months to a year.”
Moving forward, Carr is working towards his goal of renting his own apartment, and plans on finding additional employment at a local Goodwill.
“I am humbled through this experience. Homelessness is real. You can have it all one day, and a natural disaster or fire can destroy your home the next. By now, I always thought I would be married with children, own a big house, and drive nice cars,” he said. “There are people who had everything and lost it all due to things out of their control. It could be you.”