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For five years, Mike and Karen lived in the woods beside the Siler City Walmart.

They searched through dumpsters for food and clothing. Swallowing their pride, they panhandled, asking for money for food, or gas canisters to light the camping stove that kept them warm at night. In the summers they fought off copperheads and coyotes, and during the winter they fought off the cold, watching icicles form above them on the roof of their tent. They never envisioned a life like this.

Years prior they had a place in Pleasant Garden. And they had a car. Karen worked as a waitress, and Mike did odd jobs. But a criminal charge when he was 17, along with untreated schizophrenia, kept Mike from being able to find and keep a good job. When their car broke down and they were unable to pay both their rent and car repairs, Karen lost her job, and one month later they were evicted from their home. They found themselves moving around a bit trying to find their space in the homeless community, eventually making their way to Siler City.

“There was nothing else on my mind but survival,” Mike said….(read the full article here)


Original story by Shelley Smith of Chatham News + Record | March 17, 2021