Alvin Dixon El is a native of Washington D.C., where he graduated from Dunbar High School and attended the University of District of Columbia. He worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for eight years as a maintenance mechanic and also worked in a group home for abused and neglected children. Alvin was married at the age of 17 and has three sons. He thinks the 60’s were the best years in Washington and he likes to dance.
How did you become homeless?
My son and I shared an apartment together after my divorce. I lost my son to the streets. This was very painful for me, and I had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized for a while. As a result of that, I lost my apartment and was unable to work.
What is the hardest think for you about being homeless?
The hardest thing is feelings of inadequacy. Not being self-sufficient and having to rely on other people is hard. It was also hard being disconnected from my family. Not being stable for them so that they were able to reach me was hard. I have a very close-knit family.
What things, people or resources have helped you while living on the streets?
Working with people that are really concerned with homelessness. Street Sense has helped me to keep a little money in my pocket and it keeps me in contact with people. It makes me fell self-sufficient and independent.
In your opinion, what are the major factors that cause homelessness in our country?
The lack of decent and affordable housing, especially in the District of Columbia. Housing discrimination certainly contributes to homelessness. Mental illnesses are real and are definitely causes of homelessness as well.
What advice would you give to someone who is currently homeless?
Pray. Put God in everything you do; every time you leave him out, you’re leaving out the main ingredient. Also, don’t drink or use drugs.
Share with Street Sense something interesting about yourself.
I am a registered substance abuse counselor and am currently waiting to take the certification test. I enjoy working with people and am particularly interested in first-time drug offenders, especially female offenders – too many young sisters are losing their children for small amounts of crack/cocaine.
Favorite Book? The Bible and The Koran
Favorite Movie? Ray
Favorite Food? Red Snapper and all kinds of salads