A weekly look at SoCal life covering news, arts and culture, and more.
Hosted by John Rabe
Airs

What it's like to be 77 and homeless for the first time




First time shelter resident Elena Mays has been waiting to transition into permanent housing since Thanksgiving Day.
First time shelter resident Elena Mays has been waiting to transition into permanent housing since Thanksgiving Day.
Taylor Orci/KPCC

Listen to story

09:16
Download this story 11.0MB
Welcome sign for Good Shepherd Center in Angeleno Heights, CA
Welcome sign for Good Shepherd Center in Angeleno Heights, CA
Taylor Orci/KPCC

Elena Mays was excited Thanksgiving Day to get out of the homeless shelter. "That was my move out date," she explained. But for bureaucratic reasons unknown the day came and went in the shelter she remained.

The Languille Emergency Shelter offers a variety of services to women in need
The Languille Emergency Shelter offers a variety of services to women in need
Taylor Orci/KPCC

"The ups and downs make it really hard," she tells Offramp producer Taylor Orci at Languille Emergency Shelter, part of Good Shepherd Center. "I've never been in the system. It's all new to me." Before her current hardships began, Mays had never been on food stamps or government assistance. She didn't know what Section 8 was and she didn't know what the Housing Authority did. But when her husband died three years ago, Mays found herself in dire straights unable to keep up with the payments on her home. She found herself dealing with things she never thought she'd have to deal with. 

Stockings hung at Good Shepherd Center
Stockings hung at Good Shepherd Center
Taylor Orci/KPCC

"I miss my dogs more than I miss my home," she reflects. The stress of her new situation makes it tough for her to sleep, and sometimes she stays up till 3am playing solitaire on her phone. "Some of the other ladies in the shelter go out in the daytime," she says. "But then you spend money, so I just stay in my room. I don't even go out into the courtyard." 

A rose blooms in the courtyard of Good Shepherd Center.
A rose blooms in the courtyard of Good Shepherd Center.
Taylor Orci/KPCC

Because of the complications that have kept her from moving into her own place, Mays has become withdrawn and admittedly depressed. "Pray for me," she says, mustering a laugh. 

The day after Mays spoke with KPCC, she was admitted to the hospital due to complications from stress. 

A new residents' belongings at Good Shepherd Center. Intake requires new residents to write down everything in their possession before washing their clothes to ensure cleanliness.
A new residents' belongings at Good Shepherd Center. Intake requires new residents to write down everything in their possession before washing their clothes to ensure cleanliness.
Taylor Orci/KPCC
You can donate to the Good Shepherd Center by clicking here