I met a man last week, and coincidently, his name is Alex. That’s my husband’s name. But aside from the fact that he has the same name as someone I love and lives in the same city that I do, Alex does not have much else in common with me. Or does he?
Alex is homeless in Victoria, BC Canada. The capital of British Columbia, located in the beautiful Vancouver Island, home of many historic and beautiful sites. It’s home of the beautiful Butchart Gardens, the expensive Fairmont Empress Hotel, and the immaculate Legislative Assembly of British Columbia – the parliament buildings. It’s hard to imagine something being off in a city with such beautiful sceneries. In a brief conversation, I found out that Alex is from Romania, and aside from speaking Romanian, he also speaks English and Spanish!
Then maybe Alex has more in common with me than one would imagine. English is not my first language either. I am a foreigner in Victoria. But how did Alex end up on the streets and I am living my life so beautifully, with a home and a job?
That’s a question that for now remains unanswered. I am from Sao Paulo, Brazil and we had (still have, and I believe forever will have) many homeless people there. I always wondered why people end up on the streets. I have heard stories of people that lost their jobs, started on drugs, begin drinking and were left by their families – the only alternative they would see was to live in the streets. I have heard stories of people who left their home country looking for a better opportunity at a “better” country – when they arrive at their destination; the promise land is not so promising anymore.
I can see Victoria as not being a promise land. For once, affordability here is far from being a thing. You can rent a flucked up one-bedroom apartment here for CAD$1,400.00 – but you gotta earn at least three times more than that to actually be approved for such rent (or in combined income). This is the equivalent of $4200 monthly, or $50400 annually. I don’t know where you live, but here in Victoria, for someone to have this salary – well, it needs to be someone really qualified or a very rich company. I can’t stop but thinking if Alex made enough money when he came to Victoria… Or did he have someone to share the rent with?
There is no easy life and no correct path. But that still does not answer nor justifies why one ends up homeless in the streets. Alex seemed to be educated, did not appear to be on drugs – and for those of you judging me for “reading” a person that I briefly met on the street, save yourself from the effort, and just quit reading this. So, why is Alex on the streets?
It was cold, cold, cold when I met Alex. He was sitting on the sidewalk, at a very busy street near downtown Victoria. It was also near the water, where there is so much wind. I could describe here much more… But I regret the fact that I did not ask Alex why he was there. So, I don’t know… I don’t know the answer to my question.
Next time I meet Alex, he’ll not only have a name or one or two facts in in common with me. Next time I meet Alex, I am hoping we can share a story together. Meanwhile, I can only wish him to find his way to a better life, and the comfort of a place to sleep.