A Day in the Life of a Transient

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

You see them on the sides of streets in downtown Panama City and in the woods throughout the county, but have you ever stopped to think about what it's actually like to live as a homeless person?

"How old are you?" asked NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"51," answered the homeless woman we'll call Jane.

A transient for around a year, NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson found her at McKenzie Park on what just so happened to also be the coldest morning so far this year.

"What's going through your mind?" asked Anderson.

"That I shouldn't be in this situation," said Jane.

On the bench alongside her was another transient. A man we'll call John.

"I've worked all my life, 55 years, and in the past year I've been homeless," said John.

Two strangers turned friends who lost their jobs, landing them on the streets of Bay County.

"It gets pretty rough sometimes. I got shorts on. That's because all of the clothes closets and everything don't have any pants," said John.

"Sometimes you don't know if you're going to eat or not. You always know where you're going to sleep, but it's the eating part and getting clothes," said Jane.

Getting from Point A to Point B is also a daily struggle. John and Jane said they end up walking most of the time. Just how far? They said as much as ten miles a day. That's like crossing the Hathaway Bridge around 12 times.

The pair considers themselves contributing members of society and said they both are currently working to find another job and get off the streets. Homeless but not giving up. Though, there are the transients who choose the lifestyle.

"There's really not much assistance we can provide those individuals," said Panama City Police Sergeant Chris Endmunson.

Sergeant Edmunson took NewsChannel 7 through several homeless camps off Highway 231, garbage everywhere and even human waste.

"Some of these individuals are confrontational. We go out and we confront them and ask them to vacate the property. Some of them have weapons," said Edmunson.

A stark difference to the two NewsChannel 7 met earlier in the day. John and Jane said vagrants make their situations even tougher.

"Half the time they get you in trouble because you're associated with them," said John.

"It makes it hard for us to survive because they see what they do and they judge us by somebody else and that's not right." said Jane.

Balancing the public's perception while also focusing on food and shelter, seemingly impossible, and for some it is. But for John and Jane, the bond they share is just enough to keep them going.

"We share between each other. That's about the only way you can really survive sometimes," said John.

"Once I get off the street, I hope I meet up with my friend again. Holiday's come, we celebrate together," said Jane.

"You guys are family?" asked Anderson.

"Yeah," answered John and Jane.

John and Jane's story is incredible testimony to the power of love and friendship. Jane said by this time next year she hopes to be living in a home. John told NewsChannel 7 he wants to go back to school.


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