Joshua, a 27-year-old from New York, likes to be called Casio. He was given the name by friends when left his home-state of New York at 17. He is an upbeat man with a wide chipped-tooth smile that flashes frequently. Casio wears a plaid shirt and a hat and carries a small backpack.
“Sometimes when I’m walking down the street and somebody calls me Joshua I don’t even react,” said Casio.
Casio lives in a park by the Redondo Beach harbor. Every day he watches the sunset and likes his beach-front view. He is clean-cut and hangs out with a group of kids he met after walking from L.A. to Redondo Beach. He sleeps in stairwells and uses three blankets to keep warm, one on the bottom and two on the top. When he first left home he traveled with his sister, who was in the U.S. Navy, and took care of his nephew. Later, he traveled to Japan, Hawaii and even Australia. He later lived with his uncle for 8 years. They did construction work together and ended up buying, selling and refurbishing medical equipment.
“After awhile,” he explained, “I started to go to college to pursue marine biology and got caught up into sociology too. I thought I was crazy for doing both, but I don’t know, something was beckoning me to it.”
Eventually he started not seeing eye-to-eye with his uncle.
“I got EBT (welfare) so we could have more food in the house and he would just cook all the food. I’m a person that loves to eat, so you don’t take that,” said Casio.
He moved from the San Diego area to L.A with a girlfriend. They lived as part of homeless community in a canyon near Azuza. When the relationship ended, he took a bus to downtown L.A. He didn’t want to stay there because it smelled all the time and he couldn’t get anybody to give him money.
“I ‘spange,’” he said. “It’s asking people for money….Normally they say no. Most people use credit cards so they’re like ‘No, I don’t have any change or nothing.’ This one lady, I actually had a job. I helped this lady move over on the other side by Vons all the way to over here (South Redondo) and got $100 for that.”
He couldn’t “spange” enough money for a bus ticket to Redondo Beach, so he decided to walk. It took him 10 hours to get to the ocean.
“I was originally going to take a while and go (walk) all the way to Ocean Beach where I knew some people — I can be pretty determined,” said Casio. “I came here and started meeting people. People are just nice and it’s so calming over here.”
He has a plan for the future. He has two friends he wants to room with, and they are going to move to Ocean Beach. “We’re going to have a crib together and get a job and everything,” he said.
For Casio, his time of homelessness isn’t about not having a home; it’s about taking a reality check.
“Right now is just about surviving the best I can,” said Casio.
Photo by Chelsea Sektnan
Redondo Beach has a network of soup kitchens and he has a meal planned out for almost everyday at one of the local churches. Monday, Wednesday and Friday he goes to St James for lunch. On Sunday he goes to St. John’s Lutheran for lunch.
“Nobody should go hungry because all the churches give you all of these lunches,” said Casio. “They pretty much have something everyday, but they’re pretty far-and-wide. You have to get bus money or you better start walking early.”
During the day he can usually be found hanging out in the library reading books or talking to his friends on the internet.
“It’s liberating just to be doing your own thing. Yeah, I still want to go to school. I want to have a house of my own, pay my bills and everything. Right now it’s just who I’m choosing to do it with,” said Casio. “Now’s just a time in-between.”
In the afternoon he comes down to the park to hang out with friends.
“Sometimes high school kids just like to come over and hang out,” said Casio. “I’m not going to push [them] away. I remember when I was young I used to hang out with the wrong crowd. I just tell [them] to do the right thing, period. Right now you need your high school diploma more and more.”
He only carries a small amount of things around town with him. The rest he keeps stashed where nobody can find it. His stashed backpack has four pairs of jeans, five shirts, some underwear and hygienic stuff like toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Because of his insomnia he doesn’t often get a good night’s sleep. Even when he finds a warm stairway, he still can’t keep his eyes shut.
“I remember when I would go to work with my uncle and we would lift 200-pound items and I would come home dead tired,” Casio recalled. “As soon as it was nighttime, I’m up. You know, I’m like going out to find something to get into.”
He likes not having a household because he has time to focus on himself and the things he wants and needs to do. He doesn’t like being homeless because nobody wants to hang out with him besides his new crew in Redondo Beach, and he can’t eat what he wants or watch TV or play video games when he wants.
“I can’t just sit and watch a movie,” he said. “On a cloudy day like this I’d usually just go under the covers and watch a movie. I can’t do that out here.”
The biggest thing he’s learned on his journey has been to never regret anything.
“Keep dreaming,” Casio added, “because there needs to be dreams and people need to have them. If you have a job and you’re not having fun, it’s just going to be a job. That’s all there’s going to be. It’s been proven that people who are way wealthier have more worries. Even if I do become wealthy my house isn’t going to be big because the way that I was taking my life before and now is way different.”