January 21, 2010
Charles Henry Demers, 48, has been homeless for three months. A Colorado Springs resident for 10 years, Demers had been living in an apartment and working as a day laborer. But work dried up and he couldn’t pay rent. He’s now living in a tent along the creek bed behind Sonic fast food.
Demers presents a well-groomed appearance. He says he washes his clothes at a nearby coin laundry, and attends to hygiene by washing up at the restroom in the nearby Safeway and by using baby wipes.
His possessions are mostly items he already owned before becoming homeless: a bed and blankets, a Coleman stove, an outdoor grill and lawn chairs. He said a friend loaned him the tent, which he heats with lighted candles.
Demers is motivated to leave the encampment. Most days he’s up at 5:30 a.m. to head to Apprentice Personnel on West Colorado Avenue, he said. He’ll stay there most of the day hoping for a work assignment. He’s been able to get occasional work through the agency. During the deep freeze about a month ago, Demers got work downtown at Memorial Hospital as a day laborer. For three days, he was up at 3:30 a.m. to walk downtown to be on time for work, he said.
He gets food from Christian organizations that stop by the encampment, and buys food at the nearby Safeway from his day-laborer earnings. He doesn’t go to any homeless food pantries.
Though he wants to get off the streets, he doesn’t think too often about his future. “You’ve got to live day to day,” Demers said. “As for this weekend, who knows?”
Through it all, he tries to remain positive. “I don’t get wrapped up in the hate over the lack of a job.”