Ronald Weaver is no saint. He smelled like booze. He says he drinks, he has been suicidal in the past, and is mentally ill. When he stops drinking he thinks he is about to have a heart attack. In and out of court and multiple emergency rooms, Ronald lives at a bus stop on the corner of Santa Monica and Gardner, in West Hollywood.
He’s 55, he’s been in Los Angeles since his late teens or early 20’s. Originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, his father who abused his mother and him, threw him out of the house when he was a young boy. He went to live with his grandparents. His grandfather made moonshine, and drank heavily, which is how Ronald started drinking. He had a wife, a son and a daughter, but they left him long ago, because of his heart condition, and perhaps his alcoholism.
He says he needs help, that his heart hurts, that it felt like it was leaping out of his chest, but no one will help him, despite the fact he has Medi-Cal, Medicare, Disability, and Blue Cross, he claims. Drinking helps dull the pain, he confided. It’s his medicine.
A lack of supportive housing for individuals with alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance use disorders, or much subsidized housing period, means that Ronald will continue to live on the street, and continue to be rushed by ambulance to the emergency room, then discharged to the street under threat of arrest, continue to be picked up by sheriff deputies, and appear before specialized courts that divert mentally ill individuals. The sad part is that it probably costs taxpayers more for Ronald to live on the street than for him to get the help he needs.
Ronald describes how he was hospitalized and ejected from the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center emergency room under threat of arrest.