Being homeless is a difficult subject. Every street is very different, every person’s experience is unique.
Patrick doesn’t know when he became a “street”. It was in the last years of his adolescence, but there is no exact day or moment that indicates when he became “homeless.”
For others, it’s the moment they’re kicked out of the house. This could be the day they decided to run away. It could be the afternoon he was discharged from the hospital, or maybe his key did not open when he got home.
Patrick Holly says there is no single story of being homeless, or there is no single solution to stop it.
With ill mental health and growing drug addiction outside of high school as a teenager, Patrick tells himself he is slowly becoming a “street”.
After enjoying high school, he went to study at Auckland University – a year of study completed before his life took an unexpected turn. He remembers the thought: “What are you going to do with your life? Time is running out.
“I had no idea. I wasn’t ready, and I lost something,” he says. In the midst of stress and sudden changes in life, he found himself on the road.
As a street vendor, he would move to a shelter, to homes, and to an abandoned Sharif club near Queen St.
It is at this club, which today is covered in mattresses, duvets and Heineken boxes, that Patrick meets Ezita and Johnny Agno. The couple is a documentary filmmaker, Aizeta is a photographer and Johnny is a videographer.
The couple was there because their nephew was homeless. Until then, it was a world they would never have imagined. Johnny left his nephew at the old Sharif Club and discovered a spacious room full of young, homeless men.
“It was their crash pad,” he says. “It’s a huge space covered in graffiti and trash. They had beds everywhere.
His first visit to Crashpad was in 2014. He has spent many years working on his documentary since then. Young and carefree., Which was released this month.
Johnny says there are reasons why the documentary took more than five years to complete. For one, he didn’t look for this community of young homeless men, but when he did, he said he knew he needed to know about the rest of New Zealand.
What Johnny and Izita found was a hidden homeless community, full of young people who had been separated from mainstream society.
They also found an incredibly flexible community.
“It was a group of young friends who were enjoying themselves. They were living their lives and I think they controlled their lives here more than when they were at home.
“They were accepted. It’s a community where everyone had their backs. All you have to do is move on, do your job and enjoy your life. It was a beautiful trend, as horrible as it sounds. I surprised her. Found exciting. “
Patrick describes living on the road as a swing of incredible heights, which is rare in ordinary life.
“The social aspect of it is, so far, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Its physical reality is not pleasant,” he says.
“When it’s winter, and you don’t have clothes because everything is wet, and at night you have nothing to do but get it wet. I got foot fungus so badly. My feet started bleeding from my shoes.
A friend he was living with went to buy a bandage for his foot, no questions asked. He says it was common for people to understand what they were going through, without saying a word.
“Everyone understands. Normally, society treats you in such a way that you have no value at the moment but there you consider yourself part of that community.
Patrick says many young homeless communities do not usually look homeless.
“There’s a homeless man I knew who always wore a suit, so people would treat him better,” he says. Occasionally, they would be hated or abused by the public during the riots because their clothes looked too expensive. But he says the clothes are donated, not bought with his own money.
“It’s more than you expect. The little homeless people are very well dressed … a lot of homeless people are not trying to make themselves look homeless.
The community with which he was abandoned has been living in a gentleman’s club since then.
It’s hard to keep track of where everyone went. Some ended up in prison, others moved across the country, and some, like Patrick, are now living very different lives with their homes and jobs.
Patrick is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science at Macy’s University. His home desk is covered with chemistry notes, although he is not sure which field of science he is going to.
He is now 27 years old, less than a decade after he first became homeless.
Patrick says luck is a big reason he got off the streets.
His girlfriend’s parents offered to bear him with one hand and with him when he became clean and adjusted to mainstream life.
“People want to help, but they often don’t realize how long it will take to process everything and get it through official documents,” he says.
“They were patient to support me and if I weren’t for them, I would still be there. They gave me a place to heal and remember as an individual.”
Patrick says people who get off the road do so on different routes. They leave with unique and often intense personal struggles, whether addictive or mentally ill. He says it takes a lot of emotional energy to re-create one’s identity in a mainstream society.
Some people think jail is because they leave the street. Sometimes they have access to government assistance – which they note is extremely difficult to do when you do not have permanent residence. Sometimes, friends or family are able to help.
Ultimately, he says, people will only be able to stay on the road if people bother to understand him.
“Look at this person, they are people’s children and brothers, and they are emotional people. They have value, and you may be surprised if they get a chance to bounce back. People become homeless, but Some of the bright minds I met were on the streets.
Young and … is now airing on TVNZ on Demand.