Homeless Valley veteran finally gets unemployment after long struggle

Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 11:51:14-05

PHOENIX — It doesn’t take much to lose nearly everything. No one knows that better than Cedrick, a Valley veteran who lost his job to the pandemic, and asked us not to use his last name.

“A lot of companies I worked for,” he said, “furniture stores, warehouses driving box trucks, they shut down.”

Cedrick is now homeless and lives out of his gray Dodge Caravan. The tread is wearing thin on the tires and the transmission is starting to stick. For a man who needs every dollar, the $240 deposited into his bank account Tuesday by the Department of Economic Security was appreciated.

In Cedrick's case, most of the money is already spent. Even when you live on the street, there are bills to pay.

“A cell phone bill that’s 60-70 bucks. I have a storage because I can’t keep everything in here. That’s another 60 bucks and then gas. So it doesn’t take me that far,” he said.

Cedrick is not alone. Justa Center Executive Director Wendy Johnson says the pandemic has only added to the misery of those who live at or below the poverty level.

Justa Center provides services exclusively to people 55 and older who are homeless. “We’ve had 180 people come to Justa Center in the last two months who have not been here ever before,” Johnson says. “Of them, 48% are first-time homeless. That’s what we’re gonna see an uptick in.”

“Before I was actually in this situation, I didn’t believe this was a thing. No one would believe it. You don’t see it," Cedrick said.

For the last eight months, Cedrick sees and lives the life of a homeless person every day from the front seat of his van. With a computer in hand, he spends much of his time looking for work and trying to build a social media marketing business.

“Anybody who's living in a home getting unemployment that’s barely making it, imagine someone living in a car,” he said.

It appears Cedrick’s days living in a car are over.

After meeting him, ABC15 was able to connect him with Michael Raine of Community Bridges. Raine was able to find an apartment for Cedrick Tuesday evening and Cedrick has a job interview scheduled for Wednesday.

Although $240 doesn’t buy much, it did buy Cedrick time, and that is all he needed.