Being homeless in Charlottetown is like being 'part of the wall'

Jocelyn Claybourne comments@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on April 7, 2013
Eddy Keffe, 23, has been homeless for about a year.
Guardian photo by Jocelyn Claybourne

A part of the wall.

This is what being homeless in Charlottetown feels like for 23-year-old Eddy Keffe.

For a year he’s been homeless, unable to find a job without a home address and unable to pay for a place to stay without a job. So he panhandles for money.

One day this week, he was found outside of Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Charlottetown hoping to make $20 for a place to stay.

He rents a boarding room from a friend, someone he met while panning a few months earlier.

His friend lives at his new girlfriend’s house, so he charges $20 a night for Keffe to rest his head.

But, there’s a risk.

The government still pays for the room and if Keffe is caught sleeping there, his friend will lose it.

After spending four hours outside, Keffe made about $10 to $15 and bought himself a meal.

He doesn’t usually pan outside of Shoppers, his main spot is the Stratford Bridge, but today he said his feet were too sore to make the extra trip, so he sat upon a crate and held a sign reading “need $20 4 a place 2 sleep. Anything helps.”

There’s a lot of different kinds of people that pass by him each day, some are generous and other’s definitely aren’t, said Keffe.

“Some people ignore me and pretend I’m a part of the wall.”

This summer, Keffe had someone walk by him and throw a bottle full of urine at him.

But they aren’t all bad, said Keffe.

“I was renting a room off someone for $60 a week and someone gave me $240, enough for a month’s rent. He just randomly found out how much I needed.”

Keffe likes to stay away from judgment, both on him and the people that pass him on the street.

“I could have more money in my dish than they do in their whole bank account, I don’t know,” said Keffe.

People assuming he’s a crack addict just because of his situation makes him upset.

“Why would I judge them if I don’t want them to judge me.”

During the winter Keffe struggled with the cold weather.

“Some days it was really, really, really bad… But you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Keffe makes use of local shelters, as much as he can anyway. The last time he used the shelter he stayed for a month and a half. Now, a person can only stay a few nights a week, Keffe said he heard from a friend.

“The rest of the nights is just, I guess, they don’t really care.”

It’s a good service to have, but the management needs to work on how they’re running it, said Keffe.

“There’s downfalls and stuff but you had a place to stay until you could get up on your feet. Now it’s basically they give you a couple days to a week and then they’re like, “OK, too bad, you’re not on your feet, I don’t care, go fall on your face.”