Homeless in Huntington: Kevin Marcum

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Kevin Marcum is 44 years old and was born in Ashland, Kentucky.

For close to a decade, Marcum said he worked a seemingly stable six-figure job at MCI Communications, a telecommunications company headquartered in Washington, D.C. Today, he said he has been homeless in Huntington for so long, “it feels like forever.”

Marcum said that since going through a divorce and losing his job several years ago, he has struggled to “get (himself) back together” despite his relentless efforts to regain economic stability.

He said recovering from serious socioeconomic hardships seems practically impossible, and that causes folks like himself to lose hope in a system that seems rigged to make them fail.

“The system is set up against people who are struggling,” Marcum said. “It’s designed to break you. Once you get so far down in this system, it’s designed to keep you in its clutches.”

Marcum said because of his inability to acquire governmental assistance, he is forced to wonder everyday where his next meal may come from.

“I’ve got no source of income, and I can’t draw any government checks; I don’t get food stamps or anything like that,” he said. “So it’s kind of hard for me to be able to take off or go anywhere or do anything. I’m lucky to get what I get day-by-day. It’s a struggle for folks like me out here. We don’t sit here and dig through these (dumpsters) because we enjoy it.”

Marcum said he cannot acquire a funding voucher for an apartment or any other purchases because he has no annual source of income.

“I can’t get a source of income without already meeting other standards that require me to have a source of income in the first place,” he said. “It’s like I’m not supposed to be able to do better. If you think about it and let it get to you, it will, that’s for sure.”

Marcum said being homeless feels like being stuck in a cycle, trapped with no way to progress forward.

“I try not to blame myself,” Marcum said. “Nothing changes if nothing changes, so I’m trying to do that; I’m trying to move forward. It occasionally feels like I can move forward now, but it’s always baby steps, and then I get knocked right back down.”

Marcum said he wonders if the federal government has enough money to provide homes and basic income and necessities for struggling folks like himself who may need it.

Marcum said while working for MCI, he travelled across the U.S., visiting all but just seven or eight of the 50 states. He said he came to Huntington after going through a divorce and losing his job because he had nowhere else to go.

“I had nowhere to live,” he said. “I went to the nearest city where I thought I could survive.”

He said he would someday like to leave Huntington and purchase a home and a piece of land isolated in the wilderness. He said he would like to be able to spend more time hunting and fishing like he did when he was younger.

“I love the outdoors and the wildlife,” he said.

Marcum said he thinks too many people are eager to judge rather than attempt to understand homeless people in Huntington.

“There are misunderstandings,” he said. “I just wish people wouldn’t be so quick to assume and to judge. Their assumptions are wrong I’d say eight-out-of-10 times.”

Marcum said the most common misconception people have about homeless residents is that all of them are addicted to drugs.

“The first thing too many people think is that you’re on drugs; it’s the very first thing they think,” he said. “Some people want to automatically think that drugs are the cause of everything, but actually, in my situation, love was the cause of all this—not drugs. The one thing that’s supposed to make you and save you turned out to be the worst thing ever for me.”

Marcum said that even if someone is in a bad position because of drug addiction, that does not make it okay to demonize them, and they still deserve to live with dignity.

Marcum said a piece of advice he would give to his younger self is to always remember that “life is short.”

Douglas Harding can be contacted at [email protected]