You probably have something in common with the homeless man or woman you passed along your way to work this week. Many of the people who live on the street, lived from paycheck to paycheck once. In the Roanoke area, aside from losing a job or not being able to afford the rent, there's another reason homeless men and women have hit the bottom. Just ask Ken Marsh, for him it was a sucker punch he never saw coming.
"No, I didn't forsee it at all," says Marsh.
Once a truck driver working 70 hours a week, Marsh had a heart attack. With no savings, no home as collateral, he went from the hospital to the homeless shelter.
"There are a lot of folks experiencing homelessness now who have significant health issues and they need time to get healthy and stabilize," says Ellen Brown the director of the Transitional Living Center in Roanoke.
Last month, HUD or Housing and Urban Development gave this Transitional Living Center a grant for more than $250,000. Not a lot of money, but for the center, which is one step up from a shelter, it's 50 percent of its funding. Without it Brown says the TLC would be scraping.
The fact is, dinner tables at these centers stay full as families continue to face hardship. In the Roanoke Valley area where an estimated 500 people are homeless, the third most popular reason why often has to do with medical issues. The number one reason is unemployment followed by not being able to pay rent.
Marsh agrees there is a common misconception about people who live on the streets. He wants others to know he once had a good paying job too, before the blow he never saw coming.