Tents where unsheltered San Diegans live line the street outside the shuttered California Theater on Sept. 2, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego
Tents where unsheltered San Diegans live line the street outside the shuttered California Theater on Sept. 2, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

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Christopher Edmonds moved from Knoxville, Tenn., and settled in San Diego. No longer homeless, he is an advocate of the homeless and an active member of Voices of Our City Choir.  

It all began when I turned 21. I lived with my parents in Section 8 housing in Knoxville, Tenn. Because of my age, I was no longer eligible to be on my parent’s lease or be a current resident in their home. It was now time for me to venture out on my own. Within the next few years, I would become homeless. Nobody dreams of being homeless. 

I had job after job, roommate after roommate. I lead the life of a transgender/drag queen individual, which would also cause tragic problems for me later. The only jobs that I was suited for were jobs not dealing with the public. To give an example, I was a telemarketer, heard but not seen. I became what was known as “couch homeless.” I would stay from place to place with different people. During the next few years, I would become disabled with mental and physical disabilities that would render me unfit to maintain a job. Staying with some folks was nothing but a nightmare, a living hell. If you didn’t do what they expected of you, then they would threaten to kick you out. I had ex-roommates sling food at me and spray paint the belongings that I had. I would spend many days and nights in agony and in anticipation for what would be required of me next. I felt like Cinderella, but without the glass slippers and no happy ending in sight, never to finish my chores for there was always more. Tightening the reins, making each day more miserable, I was living a nightmare.  

Even back in public schooling, I was treated poorly by my peers. I thought the abuse would subside after graduation, but it did not. I found it difficult to find support within the gay community because I was a drag queen. I often felt like an outcast.  

After losing my mom in 2013, I was still moving from place to place in Knoxville. I was fighting drug addictions. I decided to make some major changes in my life. I finally got approved for disability after an exceptionally long wait. I had also been approved for Section 8 housing. Things started to look up, having good days and bad. I placed all my belongings in storage and decided to up and move from Tennessee clear across the country to California to get a fresh start. I ported my Section 8 voucher and ended up settling in San Diego. When I first moved here, I thought I had a made a huge mistake. Then something happened that changed my life immensely. I became a member of the Voices of Our City Choir. 

I had seen Voices on America’s Got Talent back in 2020 and thought to myself that I would love to be part of that choir. I am part of something that is bigger than myself. I am proud and privileged to help others with the same simple needs that I used to take for granted. I am now living my best life. I am thankful for everything around me. I am coming out of a 10-year retirement to entertain the Voices of Our City Choir. Through being a member, I now have a wonderful venue to express my talents and to be wonderful, appreciated by an extended family that welcomes all. 

I would like to see homelessness end. I would like to see people become sober. I strive to be an advocate to help these people that so desperately need it. So, I reach out with a helping hand, with a nonjudgmental frame of mind. I do not always know where I am going, but I know where I have been. When it is all said and done, with hard work, determination, God, and myself, I like who I have become. 

I am thankful for a roof over my head. I am thankful for the clean air that I breathe. I am thankful for clean drinking water. I am thankful to be just me. Homelessness is an affliction, not a disease. Together combing forces, we can end homelessness. 

Christopher Edmonds

Christopher Edmonds is moved from Knoxville, Tennessee, and settled in San Diego. No longer homeless, he is an advocate of the homeless and an active member...

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  1. Unclear if he now has a job , has given up his section 8 voucher for someone who needs it more… or if he is on welfare, singing and dancing on taxpayers funds.

    1. Grew up section 8, became a drug addict, received a section 8 voucher of their own, moved to the most expensive place in North America.

      At least these stories are getting more honest. This is what everyday residents have been saying for yearrrrs – the “homeless” are actually out of state drug addicts soaking up CA taxpayer dollars.

  2. After reading all three essays, there are some common themes: addiction, medical issues, being marginalized. Each are sufficient to push someone into homelessness, all three seem like a sentence for it.
    The only question, for me, is where to start first. It seems like getting someone housed is a good first step, next addiction counseling, and then finally a supportive community.
    Why community last? Maslow’s Hierarchy. It is hard to manage your addiction and feelings of alienation if you are wet and cold. Jail is to expensive an approach to try first.
    But where? It was amusing to read about trying to grab land from the USMC. Good luck with that. East County doesn’t have any further support systems, so that leaves Downtown?
    And the merry go round turns.

  3. San Diego and the other coastal areas should lead the nation by housing them and plying them with services. Then more will come from elsewhere to foul the streets, canyons, parks, etc. all over again while waiting for their free stuff. Eventually, with the gravitational pull of all this good stuff, the entire bottom 0.5 percent of the nation’s population will come here and be taken care of properly.

  4. Responding to the comments it appears that there is a serious lack of empathy and a marked sense of greed- as in this is ours! Our resources! Why should we share?! It has already been proven that the majority of homeless became homeless HERE- not from some “other” state. I am quite surprised at the ugly attitudes, but then again- look at how everything around us operates. By all means, lets continue this path instead of trying to make anything better- for anyone.

  5. I truly appreciate these essays. I feel they will give others a sense of humanity when seeing the unhoused on our streets. It is not easy to survive in San Diego. It’s expensive and just one terrible thing can set off a chain of events that could easily lead to losing ones home. Thank you for sharing your stories and love that you all found Voices of Our City Choir – a wonderful organization!

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