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He's got class but no home

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 15/06) - When social workers talk of people "falling through the cracks," 19-year-old Lloyd Thrasher's story provides a window into what that means.

On top of trying to finish high school and working full-time here in Yellowknife, Thrasher has the added pressure of never knowing where he'll rest his head at night.

NNSL Photo/graphic

In the past year, 19-year-old Lloyd Thrasher has slept on friends' couches, at the Salvation Army and on the streets while trying to finish high school. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

"It's a feeling of aggravation," said Thrasher of his situation.

"You have to put yourself into a fake world, keep telling yourself things are going to get better so you don't get discouraged."

Originally from Aklavik, Thrasher moved to Inuvik when he was 17.

Not old enough to qualify for social housing or to stay at the Turning Point emergency shelter, Thrasher often crashed at his aunt's home.

When that didn't work out, he squatted at an abandoned house.

After police evicted him, Thrasher managed to get social services to fly him to Yellowknife because his mother said she had a place there.

"She didn't say whether it was a house or apartment and it was pretty much a tent right in the middle of town," said Thrasher.

He opted out of tent living and lied about his age so he could bed down at the Salvation Army.

From there, Thrasher's life has continued to be a series of ups and downs. When he started a relationship with a Yellowknife woman who had qualified for social housing, things improved.

When that relationship went sour, Thrasher was back to sleeping in bus shelters and, when he was lucky, on friends' couches.

Trying to find suitable housing and a means to finance it has proved fruitless.

"I needed proof of residency in the North to get financial assistance but how was I supposed to get proof of residency without assistance to actually rent a place?" said Thrasher.

"Income support said I would have to go to the Salvation Army."

Now 19, Thrasher earns a meagre living working at McDonald's, and is old enough to stay at the Sally Ann. But he would rather break the cycle he's in and see others do the same.

"Nobody can look down on me for doing the best I can do to get out of my situation and I don't care if people say, 'Hey that's Lloyd Thrasher and he's homeless,'" said Thrasher, who is remarkably upbeat for a guy who may end up walking the streets of Yellowknife tonight for lack of a bed.

"I just want to see the homeless population of Yellowknife shrink greatly. To see somebody sleeping on the sidewalk cause there's no place else to go, I know what it's like and it just shouldn't be that way."