210 Rio Grande: The epicenter for Utah's homeless

Published: Monday, Oct. 15 2012 9:50 p.m. MDT

"In the streets, they're more surrounded by drugs. There's more chance for kids to get addicted. It's one of those bound-to-happen things when it's all around you, right in your face."

"Frosty" Forrester:

Johnny "Frosty" Forrester came to Utah on a bus from Dallas. When asked Friday what brought him here, he answers with one word — "circumstances" — before elaborating.

"Burying my mother," he says. "I had to sell my car, my motorcycle. Everything I had to pay for the funeral."

His mother came to Utah with a friend in 2006. He kept in touch with her by phone until she died of cancer about three months ago.

The funeral director, he says, told them the $8,000 he paid covered the cheapest funeral they could have. Forrester still wonders why the man felt it was necessary to tell him that.

He had an apartment in Texas and was "staying afloat" working construction jobs. But without a reliable mode of transportation, keeping the various jobs he's landed in Utah has proven more difficult.

"It's a tough situation," he says. "Some days I get depressed. Sooner or later, something's going to break."

He tries to take it one day at a time and looks forward to the day that he'll get out of Utah and out of the shelter. He counts the little blessings, such as having two good, working legs.

"You can't wish upon a star and make it go away," he says. "It's going to be the same thing, same place, same time. You just take it day by day. If you think about it too much, it'll eat you alive."

Valory Sargeant

Valory is a 10-year-old Beacon Heights Elementary student who is the first to tell you that she goes to the school for its Children's Behavior Therapy Unit. She also says her family is in the Road Home for its third time, including around this time last year.

She is bright and articulate and outgoing, even quick to volunteer information, such as her desire to have a room of her own because "brothers are always gross." She will turn 11 later this month and hopes her family will have a home by then.

"We're hoping on a little house," Valory's mother, Michelle Chatelain, says.

Every weekend, Valory goes to her dad's house and says that when she comes back to their room at the Road Home, "I can't even see my bed," thanks to younger brother, William. She's been trying to "be more clean." She's never lived in a place with a room of her own.

Chatelain says Valory is resourceful enough to earn the extra $10 needed to have a nasal spray flu vaccine as opposed to a shot. Did it by buying Twinkies and cupcakes and selling them for a bit more to whomever would buy them.

"Here, every single penny counts," Valory says.

Linda Bonds:

When things got rough in her native Tacoma, Wash., Linda Bonds says she would go to the ocean and watch the waves.

"It calms me," she said. "Here, there's no water. It's the desert."

Bonds says she has been on and off Utah's streets since 2008. It was the same year she pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of illegal possession or use of a controlled substance.

Bonds claims she hadn't been using or selling drugs, but when the boyfriend she had been with since they first came to Utah from Las Vegas in 1997 was caught with them, she took the fall. He had two felonies already and she feared the "third strike" would land him in prison, so she took the drugs and the charges that came with them.

In 2008, he walked out on her and she's "been surviving" ever since. She says she completed probation and the program she was ordered to finish — a story confirmed by court records.

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