$300,000 inheritance turns homeless American's life topsy-turvy
Long Beach (United States) -7-15 (AFP) - Everything suddenly changed in homeless Steven Kent's life when his sister, after a long search, found him and informed him that he had inherited $300,000 and that he could now put an end to twenty years
of living on the streets of Long Beach in California.
Kent (45 years old) left the city on Wednesday evening on a Greyhound bus, heading for Ohio in the northeast.
Steven Kent looked very thin but he had washed and shaved for the first time in what was no doubt a long while.
As the occasion was such an important one, he had bought a pair of blue trousers, new shoes and light coat to begin his new life.
It was not easy for him to deal with the television cameras and photographers as he boarded the bus.
He said, in a barely audible voice: "The whole thing scares me a little [...] it is really a surprise.
I'll no longer be homeless."
After he had said goodbye to his friends and a number of policemen and local people in the neighborhood where he had roamed the streets, he got on the bus to leave Long Beach, a town which lies 30 km south of Los Angeles where he had lived for
approximately 20 years.
Long Beach policeman David Marnder said it was the second time in two days that Steven Kent had tried to take a bus to pick up the promised inheritance.
Marnder said that the first time Kent had tried to get on the bus, he smelled so badly that the bus driver would not let him on, referring to his refusal to wash and his addiction to alcohol.
For twenty years, Steven Kent had made a meager living from collecting empty bottles and cans, which he then sold to cover his basic needs and buy nightly bottles of wine and beer.
He usually slept in a small street in the center of Long Beach and had been arrested many times for various minor charges, mainly excessive drinking and drunken behavior.
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles county is about 84,000 including 9,000 children, while shelters for them have only 13,600 beds.
Ruth Schwartz, who works for an organization dealing with homeless people, told France Presse that Los Angeles County offers help to homeless people but Kent suffered from mental problems that prevented him from getting the help he needed.
She added: "Steven Kent belonged to a group which does not benefit much from our services because it consists of people who face major problems in sorting out their lives."
At the beginning, Kent thought he had only inherited $25,000 and refused to travel to Ohio to claim it.
But after he found out he had inherited over $300,000, he decided to move to Shelby, Ohio, to live with his sister.
As he got on the bus to leave, a friend jokingly called out to him: "Don't forget you owe me money."