Don't Park It

Homeless for the holidays

NT: What is it about parks and homeless people, anyway?

Brewer: Everything else is private property. Even if you hang out in an alleyway, neighbors call the cops and they can run you in for loitering. A lot of these people sleep during the daytime because there's no safe place for them to sleep at night. A lot of them have mental illnesses, they're antisocial, they don't want to go to a shelter, they have drug and alcohol habits that don't allow them to participate in the shelter experience, as they say.

NT: You choose not to participate in the shelter experience yourself.

Kurt Brewer, relaxing at home.
Emily Piraino
Kurt Brewer, relaxing at home.

Brewer: Yeah. Last winter I was kicked out of two different shelters. I'm kind of proud of that. It would be nice if there were more cheap flophouse hotels, but the health department shuts them all down. [At the shelters] they all sleep in one room the size of a basketball court. I can't sleep in a room that large with that many people. They burp, they fart, they snore, they talk in their sleep, their feet stink. It's not doable.

NT: So the shelters aren't always a solution to the problem.

Brewer: You're not a human being to them, you're just a number that they use to get their funding. They don't care about people.

NT: Why do you think the city council cares where you sleep?

Brewer: They have to answer to the citizens, the voters and taxpayers. Homeless people don't vote or pay taxes, so we don't count as far as they're concerned.

NT: Does it seem that the city council should be maybe looking out for your welfare, instead of chasing you away?

Brewer: That's a nice thought. But there are some homeless people that nothing can be done for. They're just too crazy or too antisocial or too hopped up on alcohol or drugs to participate in any type of program to aid homeless people.

NT: Where will you go if this thing passes and they run you off?

Brewer: I'll go look for some patch of public ground where they're not gonna find me. I spent most of the summer sleeping in the bushes over by the freeway. There's always a nice breeze there, and you can wear earplugs so the traffic noise doesn't bother you.

NT: There are no day-sleeper ordinances in Avondale. You could move there.

Brewer: Nah. I'm a downtown kind of guy. They have all the services for homeless people down here. I just ate lunch at St. Vincent de Paul about an hour ago. You can get two free meals a day in this neighborhood.

NT: It can't be safe, sleeping in the park.

Brewer: Well, I'm a convicted felon, so I can't carry weapons. I don't have any troubles with anybody; I guess I look scary enough that most people don't bother me.

NT: So you're okay out here.

Brewer: Yeah. When they're not talking about ordinances to run everyone out of the park, they make it easy to be a homeless street bum here in central Phoenix. You can get almost all of your meals for free, and just about everything you want from the churches and other agencies. Which is fine with me. I don't like paying bills. I like spending my money on food and drink and bus tickets.


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