“Just because you are poor, it does not mean you are bad. Just because you are poor it does not mean you got that way because you drink or use drugs. A lot of the homeless people are underemployed who have worked their whole life, and then the job market does not want us anymore,” Lorenzo Wolf, a homeless resident of Santa Barbara states.
Last week I was walking down State Street when I noticed Lorenzo. I recognized him from earlier; he is the blond guy with the sign saying “Old and fat. Anything helps,” frequently sitting on the bench right outside Bank of America. My friends and I had been talking to him earlier and I remembered him as sweet, kind and not fat at all.
I have been researching homelessness in Santa Barbara and Norway for a while now, and figured it was time to get the opinion of a homeless person. The topic interests me because I see the homeless population in Santa Barbara as healthy and unfortunate, compared to in Norway. Because of the welfare state, Norway has far less individuals becoming homeless. For too long now have I been wondering why I see so many homeless people in Santa Barbara in which would never be homeless in Norway.
Lorenzo Wolf is a 67 years old veteran who came to Santa Barbara in 1970. Lorenzo became homeless seven years ago, after he lost his job and was not able to get another one. Now he sits on a bench on State Street, 5 times a day, 4 to 5 times a week wishing for support from the residents of Santa Barbara. Lorenzo gets social security retirement, but it is not even close enough to live off. He gets about $200 a month, which is far less than what the average Norwegian homeless gets; $1500 a month.
I discussed various misconceptions individuals have about homeless people with Lorenzo. He is a Christian, keeps his distance from drugs and alcohol and is tired of people judging him and other homeless people. “A lot of people think that homeless are either drug abusers, alcohol abusers or mentally ill. I am none of that; I don’t drink, I don´t do drugs, I am saint, and people find that very hard to accept.”
Lorenzo does not put doing well on location, and still loves Santa Barbara and the people surrounding him. His situation, he puts on the country and its system, and he strongly believes his life could have had a different path if he lived in a different country as Norway or Sweden. “When I look at the way the economy is, the way elderly people and majorities are perceived in this country I think; it can happen to you.“