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"There's people out there right now that got frostbite because they're too afraid or too ashamed to come in and say, ‘I need help.'"

 Tyrone Seals, Sr. lives in Columbia and is currently experiencing homelessness. He wears a blue pair of coveralls and a ball cap. He wears glasses with one eye blacked out.
Becca Newton

Tyrone Seals, Sr. lives here in Columbia and is currently experiencing homelessness. He spoke with KBIA’s Missouri on Mic team at the Daniel Boone Regional Library, which serves as a warming centerfor the community, on February 19th.

He spoke about some of the realities of homelessness and how winter weather is impacting the lives of unhoused Columbians.

You can find more Missouri on Mic conversations on kbia.organd hear them by tuning in to 91.3 FM on Mondays.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Tyrone Seals, Sr.: You know, the homeless situation it’s a very drastic situation. It's a very nasty situation. I think everybody should experience homelessness. I really do. You get to understand the concept of what homelessness is all about, you know.

Have you ever been homeless? Let me let me put it to you like this – let's say you haven't took a shower in a few days, that's a bad feeling, isn't it? That's how homelessness is when you can't take a shower or you can't change your socks, you know, where's the nearest place for you to go get a drink of water from.

Now, some people swag it out. You don't have to look like you're homeless all the time, you know, there's places where you can go take showers, or you can, you know, get things you need to make yourself look more presentable or, you know, where you can go get something to eat and stuff.

You know, it's a very difficult situation. You got to make hard choices and decisions. I mean, one time I remember being – I mean, I'm still homeless, but right now, I'm in a better situation – sleeping behind a garbage dumpster, and then waking up and you got three or four raccoons in front of you because they’re tried to get to the garbage dumpster to eat and stuff.

You know what I’m saying? That's not a good feeling. [Laughing]

So, now you're in a situation where you got to defend yourself against wild animals because you’re sleeping behind the garbage dumpster because it's protection from, you know, the elements and stuff.

Becca Newton

I don't know what else there I can say and stuff. I mean, I don't want to say I'm too negative, but I mean – I want to be sound like I am being legit, and this is a real situation.

I mean, like right now the situation with… just with one of my medical problems right now, I have a lost time, you know, I'm walking around with one eye.

It's costly to me and stuff because I thought I was gonna lose my eye, but I'm scheduled for surgery next week and stuff to get, you know, for them to go ahead and reattach my retina and stuff.

Fortunately, for me, I was lucky and blessed, but, you know, there's people out there right now that got frostbite, you know, because they're too afraid to – or too ashamed – to come in and say, “Well, look, I need help.”

You know, they'd rather deal with the elements and just say, “Well, look, f**k it,” you know.

I guess we all fall from grace at times, you know, you can be up there at one time, at one moment, and then next thing you know, you're down at the bottom. It can happen to anybody; it can happen to anybody.

I mean, a lot of people are just couple of paychecks away from being homeless, you know?

I think as far as what the homeless people or the homeless situation needs is more advocates to stand up and, like less like right now – we should have done had a warming center.

Then all of a sudden now we get all this snowing and these cold temperatures come in now, and then all sudden now people are being concerned about a warming center now.

Where was the warming center last year? Where was it the year before the year before that?

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.