Mark had a rough childhood, growing up in eastern Iowa. At age 12, Mark bent to peer pressure and began drinking and smoking marijuana.
This addiction grew to include meth, and Mark found himself in and out of prison. Mark's troubles progressed and when his relationship with his son's mother dissolved, he really hit rock bottom.
“I became so depressed, and just gave up on life,” he said. “That’s when I first began to experience homelessness.”
With nowhere to go, Mark began living on the streets in a tent city by the river. He and five other people lived in makeshift shelters pieced together with items from dumpsters. Mark’s “home” was made out of pallets and nails. Years passed, each with bitterly cold winters, but Mark continued to feed his addictions.
“The coldest I remember it being was -15°,” Mark said. “When it’s that cold, there’s no getting warm anymore. You just layer up with what you have, and run for town first thing in the morning. The only way to sleep is to drink until you pass out. It’s a hard, hard life.”
To be continued Tuesday, 2/28