I’ve been houseless between camping out and shelters over eight years now. I see houselessness as a vicious cycle of a lack of stable shelter, unemployment, substance abuse and mental illness.

It’s a vicious cycle because all these factors reinforce each other. To that, add the element of having no legal documentation and being unable to find any form of legal employment.

Chance of employment is the key because income creates of form of mental stability and the ability to make better and more meaningful choices. For example, without income a person has no chance whatsoever to get into any form of shelter or housing. Without income and housing it becomes habitual that people turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with their stress and end up developing severe mental illness.

In my case, I have been fortunate enough to make a friend in a parenting class I was involved in and he hired me to work at his print shop with copies of my documents. Later I found a job working under the table doing hardwood floors and was able to save up enough money to replace my documents. It cost me over $700. Without the documents I could not move forward in life.

Getting off the streets and back on his feet: Peter Manski and his son Dharma.


Today I finally have a permanent and stable job working for a nonprofit organization and finally have income I can use to make choices. My priority is my job. I get up at 5 a.m. to commute from the safe and stable place I reside in to make it on time at my post that starts at 7:30 a.m. I’ve been working there almost two months now and never have been late or missed a day.

Now I have choices. I cut down on my drinking and applied to college. Sadly, I had to choose between college and rental housing, but I do have a stable place to live in the forest and would rather invest my money in education.

Now I have choices. I cut down on my drinking and applied to college

I have a bachelor’s of science in economics. I have been accepted to Kapiolani Community College into the certified nurse aide program. I will be paying for it myself. After that hope to get a master’s of science in nursing and pursue journalism and peace and conflict resolution at the University of Hawaii.

Sadly I will have to be houseless since can’t afford both at the same time. But I hope to become a journalist writing articles for the Civil Beat.

Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to news@civilbeat.org and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. And you can still comment on stories on our Facebook page.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author