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Meet Morton, homeless at 57

Morton, a client of Senior Support Services
Morton, a client of Senior Support Services
Photo by the Denver Homelessness Examiner

"Everything is written down in the book of life, and you can't change it once it's there.  Whatever it is, you just need to make due with what you've got."

This calm wisdom pours out of Morton, 57 years old and a client of Senior Support Services.  What makes the comment all the more remarkable is that Morton is bi-polar and suffers from schizophrenia.  70% of the homeless seniors serviced by SSS have mental health issues.  And what should be more surprising is that simple medication can dramatically improve their lives.

Morton's mental health issues undoubtedly played a role in his current state of homelessness.  He's been removed from his family for over 25 years and says he has had a stretch of bad luck.  Morton deals with diabetes and is hoping to reinstate his disability compensation sometime soon, thanks to SSS.

He's been a truck driver and a roofer, but Morton can't really work at the moment, even though he goes to the job bank every day.  He describes his state as "not good, but getting better."   Morton says that "Molly and Mary Luke [of SSS] give me a reason to keep going - because I know they care."

Morton says he receives moral support, medicines, bus tokens, phone service and general knowledge of the system from SSS.  He stays at a shelter that he describes as very chaotic and gets one meal a day there.  The rest of his meals come from SSS, or not at all.

He's not able to travel too far and usually visits the library on Saturdays (when SSS is closed).  Like most of the homeless, Morton refuses to panhandle - "I don't like being told no." he says.  Morton says the worst things about being homeless are the lack of privacy and the lack of respect.  And he's adamant that he doesn't want to fall into a pattern of being homeless.

He says that the biggest thing he receives from SSS is emotional support.  But when he first came to SSS, they paid to put him up at a hotel for a week to keep him from freezing to death.  Pretty tough experiences for a man entering his golden years...


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