Streetvibes Autobiography: Ricardo Taylor

As dictated to Jamillah Luqman

My name is Ricardo Taylor; I am 50 years old. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up in what is now called Coryville. I am the father of four children and proud grandfather of three grandchildren. I have nine sisters and four brothers from two different marriages by my father. There were four children by my mom, my mom was a homemaker. In the year 1959 my parents separated, my mom, me and my siblings moved to Cleveland Ohio, I remained there until adulthood.

In 1973 I graduated from Reemling High School, in Lancaster, Ohio. In 1975 I was married, out of that union four children were born. I also graduated from Ohio University in 1990, with an Associates of Arts in Social Sciences. Also, I am a Certified Nurse’s Aide and a Certified Stenographer. I have always been self-employed managing to maintain my household and lifestyle.

I can say that my pre- shelter- fewer days were pretty fair. My philosophy is that life is what you allow it to be; if you allow it to be a struggle then that is what it will be. I can’t pin point exactly when I became shelter- less; I say shelter- less because I was without shelter. Also this event did not occur all of a sudden, preceding events accumulated over a period of time and contributed to the dispossessed state of my affairs.

The first time that I became shelter-less I was in my early thirties. I was well prepared mentally and emotionally. The first time I had left home I had been fourteen years old, at that time I had been taught how to seek out and obtain the resources that I would need to survive if confronted with a situation of this sort. So, feeling helpless never entered my mind. I have always entered into situations open minded knowing that the situation would eventually change.

My experience as a thirty something year old was different only because the times had changed and that I now was an adult. There are resources out there such as soup kitchens, bath houses, and the Drop in Center. By choice I did not to take advantage of those services. I bought my food on a daily basis, as I became hungry I purchased and ate food. I did not pack and carry sandwiches or other food stuff around with me because I have seen a lot of people forget that they had the food and the food start to rot and mold in their belongings.

I did stay at the Drop-in – Center a few times, though it was not for me, from my perspective I felt that some of the staff had really poor attitudes, also there was no privacy. The space was ok but I was use to having my own so I was left always feeling uncomfortable. I preferred staying in abandoned vehicles; it’s not easy as it sounds to sleep in an abandoned vehicle, there are a lot of rules and guidelines that must be adhered to when sleeping in an abandoned vehicle. First of all you must not be detected. You must do this in secrecy so that it will not invite unwanted acts of violence against you; or initiate the process of the car being towed or impounded.

I have also stayed at abandoned buildings. It is better to try and find a place that has recently been vacated and the utilities are still on. Also it is better to have someone with you, there is safety in numbers, and the plus is that you have someone to talk to. The objective is trying to find the safest place that will protect you from harm from humans and the elements.

Often I would go to a gas station or a local restaurant, lock myself in the restroom and bathe myself so that I would be presentable during my job search. I would seek employment at local day labors and whoever else was hiring. All I was trying to do was make an honest day’s wage for an honest day of work. My philosophy is that on the streets you are responsible for yourself, you have to feed yourself and you have to earn what you spend, also you have to learn to survive on little. I learned how to shop for clothing and bedding at local thrift stores.  I have been shelter-less from six to eight months at a time, in all seasons.  Weather, seasons, holidays etc, there is nothing that I know of that discriminates or interrupts shelter-less-ness.

Today, because of persistence, self-determination, and engagement with others I live a very productive rewarding life. These three qualities that I integrated into my life have guided me into who I always was.

Persistence-I do not have to be what it is because I can change it

Self Determination– Refuse to throw hands up, and give up and admit failure

Engagement with others– Engage with others for employment and other resources that could be beneficial.

I feel that having confidence, courage, taking advantage of available resources, and maintaining an appropriate appearance was very important in helping me to face the adversities that I encountered on a daily basis, they also were my foundation for maintaining my dignity; I integrated these qualities and characteristics into my life.

Today, I have been with shelter for fourteen months. I have the (Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, Drop in Center, Free Store, St Vincent DePaul, Mary Madelyn Bath House, Our Daily Bread, and Hair Cuts from the Hearts), to thank for being there when assistance was needed. My children, a friend Tim Haynes and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless was my constant support system. Through it all, I think that by staying positive and doing what needed to be done, was the deciding factor in the direction that my life went.  Currently, I am a Street vibes distributor. I sometimes feel as if I have a sort of marriage to Street vibes. I enjoy the interaction with the public, and the recognition that I receive on behalf of the plight of the homeless epidemic; I get to bring awareness to, and educate the public about the homeless population and the social issues associated with being homeless in Cincinnati.

From my perspective, I do feel that the homeless issue is the responsibility of every individual in society. Some people have incapacities that prevent them from helping themselves, and because they can’t help themselves someone has to be there for them. There are a lot of different issues that contribute to becoming homeless, those issues need to be identified and addressed by the appropriate agencies. There are a lot of similarities as well as differences in the dynamics of each individual’s homeless experience.  I feel that the number one contributing factor is the lack of affordable housing, as well as society’s mind set associated with the homeless and the homelessness epidemic.

If every individual become actively involved by engaging in their community, the stereotypes associated with homelessness would prove inaccurate. Today, I live a rich and rewarding life; amazingly I do not have any regrets about my past, life’s experiences. My life’s experiences have shaped me into the person that I am today, and I am comfortable where I am today.