Last week I met a couple living in their RV in Hooksett. Their home stretched like a commercial airplane, narrow and tight.
It’s messy and cluttered, with barely space to set down a cup of coffee, but the engine works and the two men, Lynn Shackelford, 57, and Art Joly, 58, said they’ve been able to rotate public park-and-ride lots in Manchester, Hooksett and Concord for several years.
Neither can work after bone-crunching motorcycle accidents years ago, and they’ve got the scars and knee braces and sluggish movements to prove it.
Their articulate dialogue and intellectual thought hit me immediately, ending the preconceived notions I’d had before meeting them.
Shackelford was reading a website about the technology systems he said he helped create on the Shuttle program. Joly said he has a pilot’s licence, and he showed me his credentials, slipping them from his wallet.
Once, they worked together at P.H. Precision Products Company in Pembroke, Joly as a toolmaker, Shackelford as a plant engineer.
Now, they live on their supplemental security income, $1,400 a month, combined.
They said they’re happy where they are. “We don’t trust landlords anymore,” Shackelford said.
“As a nearly 60-year-old gay couple, we can’t take a chance of getting evicted at a moment’s notice,” Joly said. “But we have it better than some.”
He’s right. A warm RV beats a cold, hidden piece of property, every time.
With no vehicle or legal claim to a parking spot, the law comes down hard on the homeless, following a judge’s 2013 ruling that said, in essence, “Move it.”
Geoff Forrester tripped over us at one of our overnight locations. Lynn and I chose a 32′ motorhome after we lost our house, consciously giving up on any attempt at being invisible. I’m a little more militant about this than Lynn is but someone has to put a face on homelessness. We aren’t the best face and we aren’t the worst but this is us. We see homeless people everywhere. Once you’ve been living on the streets for a while, even as comfortably as we do it, you learn to recognize other people doing the same thing and we choose to leave them in their anonymity. But they’re everywhere and you can look right past them. The working homeless.
The Concord Monitor spent a week publishing stories about the homeless people in concord, NH because for a decade two churches have taken on this of so public task and they’re burnt out from carrying the load for everyone else. Not that they’d say as such after all they’re church people.