Hey, my name is Kaiden, and I’m one of the homeless in Saint Augustine. I am 18 years old, and I have been living here for about two months.
I just wanted to bring my experience with the homeless shelters here in St Augustine to your attention, specifically Port in the Storm.
As a homeless person who went there willingly to get assistance and get my life back on track, I found it initially very welcoming and impressive. Unfortunately, the others inhabiting Port in the Storm is a different matter. They have around 4-5 gang members who are bangers selling drugs out of the shelter. They showed up high every day and turned my personal experience with the shelter into a very negative one.
When returning from a hospital visit recently, one of the members of this gang saw me getting a ride from the police. They told me I was a cop and a snitch, and they called me many slurs and names. They said that they would kill me. They constantly harassed me — day in and day out.
One of the members stole some of my belongings from the shelter. When I told the staff, they did nothing and offered no assistance, despite inside cameras showing proof of the theft. When I went outside the shelter to confront one of the friends of the specific person who had stolen my belongings, he beat me and forced me to attempt to defend myself.
Because I defended myself from a 24-year-old banger, I was expelled from the shelter and sent back on the streets. No action was taken against my attacker, and he continues to live there. I am living out of my inoperable car. I had just accepted a job at Dunkin Donuts, only a block away, and I was ready to become self-sufficient again. No concern was shown that I was being kicked out or that I would lose my job as a result. Instead, I was denied further access to the shelter’s facilities and issued a trespass warning.
It’s very discouraging for the people in the shelter who are working to keep their noses clean and stay out of trouble when drug addicts and gang members are constantly harassing us and starting physical altercations.
Today I will be outside Port in the Storm, protesting what they did to me.