Down, but not out
Homeless man still has high spirits
To listen to audio of the interview, click here.
Michael Hampton’s woven neon green nylon bracelet is dirty. The elements have taken their toll. But you can still read “Jesus Loves Me” on it.
Hampton, 42, has lived in a privately owned field on the Ironton side of the Ice Creek Bridge for nearly a month. His presence has become a common sight for passersby. Hampton is homeless.
“A misunderstanding between two people,” is his explanation for his current situation. “It’s just a spot to lay down.”
Hampton sometimes struggles to convey his thoughts into words as he explains how he ended up in a tent on the edge of town.
“My mom and aunt let it be known their trailer was too small for me to live there,” he said. “They told me there wasn’t enough room. That’s where I would usually go.”
Prior to making the field his makeshift residence, Hampton, originally from Gallipolis, was a resident of an Ironton group home.
“I got into a relationship with someone at the group home,” he said. “I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with her. I let some people in the house know about us, and some people didn’t believe me.”
Hampton said he was sent numerous times to different local hospitals for a psychiatric evaluation after the public claims of a relationship.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “Every time I think about it I think of home. I am here now because of us not being accepted and what was being said. I thought everything was going to happen the way me and her wanted it to.”
Overall, Hampton spent five years in the group home, but not all that time was consecutive. He claims a previous relationship with someone at the group home made him leave once before.
He makes the best out of his makeshift home. He has a two-man tent, three canvas folding chairs, and uses a portable toilet that was already on the property. Everything but the toilet has been donated by local residents who have taken it upon themselves to look out for Hampton. Whatever they bring him, he eats.
“Pizza Hut even gave me some money,” he said. “People bring me things to eat all the time.”
He doesn’t plan on making this field his permanent residence. He said he has been approved for housing and is just waiting on his caseworker to show him where it is.
For now Hampton is just waiting, spending time remembering a better point in his life.
“Sometimes I go down to the boat dock,” he said. “When I’m there I close my eyes and just imagine I’m walking like I did as a child.”