Nobody Knows But Me: My story about being homeless on the streets of Oxnard- Part 2

By Lang Martinez, with Bonnie Rouda
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I’m writing this article in hopes that it will shed some light on the difficulties and obstacles with trying to get help for sobriety in Ventura County. What I hope to accomplish is raising awareness of these difficulties and obstacles, as well as the need for more resources. This is a small piece of actual events that happened on my personal journey seeking help with my addiction.

Homeless at Plaza Park, Oxnard, CA on 6-7-19. Photo: Lang Martinez

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I didn’t want to die on the streets. I wanted sobriety, a life not centered on the need for drugs. During this time of clarity the question was, what do I do? As George explained in the last article, I was 5 years sober three times, and I worked in recovery. You would think that I would definitely know what to do for my addiction, having the knowledge. But honestly I had many of these uncertainty moments. Because of the vicious cycle of the addiction insanity, chances are I probably did not reach out to the right resources that might have been available to me. Oh I tried, I tried to get help from resources that were available and they failed when they should not have. Here are some examples of my failed attempts…..
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One thing that was certain, I knew I needed a program to get stability, a foundation to keep me planted. I contacted the only 12 step program in Ventura County. Needless to say. they didn’t have a bed for me and there was a long waiting list. Everyday at 8 a.m. I’d call to see if a bed was available, but there never was.  Oh, and the Obama phone I used to make these calls I sold for $20 to buy more meth. The waiting game is not good for an addict. I don’t know a homeless addict capable of making a call every day in search of sobriety.
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My next attempt at help was to be evaluated by the crisis team, which was done on 3 different occasions. I told the crisis team I wanted to commit suicide, so they would put me on a 5150, or in other words a 72 hour hold. The sad part is Ventura County does not do that (this happened in LA County).  If you are evaluated and have been found to have a mental condition and are on drugs, the excuse becomes your condition is drug-induced and so they will not place you.  In fact at the county hospitals, the emergency rooms have local police agencies which will arrest you (for drug intoxication) instead of helping you. I was arrested twice in the ER while seeking help and actually one time at Hillmont psych hospital, which is part of VCMC (Ventura County Medical Center). Yep,  even at the psych Hospital I was arrested.
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Seeking help at the hospitals even gets better. Let me tell you about my experience with St John’s Hospital. To begin with, they are part of quote, “Dignity Health”,  but far from providing said “dignity”.  The Oxnard Police Department, which had been helping me, could have arrested me, but instead called for an ambulance because they believed I wanted to get help. I had a severe infection in my right leg that required immediate attention. The Oxnard PD actually called St John’s Hospital in advance instructing them to have the crisis team evaluate me and they would personally take me to Hillmont psych Hospital. When I arrived at St John’s  I was not seen by the crisis team as directed by the Oxnard PD, instead a security guard walked me outside to an unlit area, picked me up and body slammed me to the ground. Two other security guards had come out by this time and informed me that I wouldn’t be seen there. They walked me off the premises telling me not to come back. It was approximately 11 p.m. at night as I walked over to the Walmart and had their security call the Oxnard Police Department. When the police officer showed up he cared enough to make a phone call to get me help. He asked me to walk around the corner so no one could see what he was going to do. He put me in handcuffs, put me in his car and took me to that person who was going to help me. You need to realize that the Oxnard PD isn’t allowed to do this- they could lose their job, but this officer didn’t care he just wanted to help me. Thank you Oxnard Police Department!
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During another time of need, I still had the bad infection in my leg but now I was also in kidney failure. VCMC immediately admitted me to the hospital- a true emergency situation- I could have died from both. I still needed sobriety. I needed help. I stayed in the hospital for about a week then was sent to Pathways recuperative care for further recovery. At Pathways I cried and begged for help. A nurse there listened and tried getting the crisis team to come. Instead the social worker contacted the Ventura homeless police task force which came and arrested me instead of getting me help. I was taken to jail and they placed me in medical because of the infection in my leg and the urinary catheter I had in my bladder.  When I got out of jail this time, I again sought help from the crisis team, but again was not given help and was sent back out on the streets. Mind you, I had not used, because I had been in jail and yet I still could not get help.
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What finally did happen to me was a blessing. One person, a business owner, asked me one day if I was hungry. He let me in his office, listened to my story, opened his heart and believed that I truly wanted help. Every morning for two weeks I would show up at his office to use his phone. Finally one of those phone calls paid off and I was able to get the help I had been searching for and desperately needed in L.A county at a place called Acton.  They had a need and took me right in.
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My question to the public is this, “do you think a job & housing during that time in my life would have helped Lang Martinez”?
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Part 1 article:

Nobody Knows But Me: My story about being homeless on the streets of Oxnard.

Nobody Knows But Me: My story about being homeless on the streets of Oxnard.By Lang Martinez   What caused me personally to become homeless living on the streets in Oxnard? Methamphetamine use. Being homeless definitely taught me a whole new learning experience of self-perseverance and survival. Bottom line, trust no one but yourself! My number one priority in life while on the streets was to get my poison, my […]


Editor’s note: The formerly homeless author told us he’s spent a total of about 6 years on the streets (non-contiguously) in LA and Oxnard and been in multiple recovery programs. He says he is clean now and taking one day at a time, trying to help local homeless people.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


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14 Responses to Nobody Knows But Me: My story about being homeless on the streets of Oxnard- Part 2

  1. juan Ramon Lazos June 27, 2019 at 10:00 am

    The of oxnard needs to inplement new law to have rent controlled because its going out of wack who of SSA people can afford new apartments that cost from 1200 to 1400 and this is low income the men that build these outrages rented apartments they are so crazy and dum cause half your apartments are going to stay by them selves and i hope they do to teach you a lesson and dont charge a lot not in oxnard at least you need to take down a notch
    and the homeless could have a place to live and the cops need to respect more if they want respect who do you think you are try to talk smart to me of cousre im to get smart towards you dam right

    Reply
  2. Abel.v June 13, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I’ve known lang since December of 2018. I met him through a mutual friend. Within a week he became my sponsor , helped place me in a sobor living program in Los Angeles .He drove me himself to get emergency medical. Lang thank you for helping me , I’ve remained clean and sobor for over 5 months now….I’ve got my family back, I’ve got hope back.. and I know with the Lord by my side I have peace.. thanks Lang ! Much love bro!

    Reply
  3. Rafael June 13, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    It is good to hear about the police helping you. I am glad they did and that you are able to give back to people now. A police officer was kind and helpful to me once as well, and I’ll always remember that. Not all cops are misusing their authority or unwilling to be compassionate, this is good news. Thanks for sharing your story so openly and honestly.

    Reply
  4. Abel.v June 8, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve known lang since December of 2018. I met him through a mutual friend. Within a week he became my sponsor , helped place me in a sobor living program in Los Angeles .He drove me himself to get emergency medical. Lang thank you for helping me , I’ve remained clean and sobor for over 5 months now….I’ve got my family back, I’ve got hope back.. and I know know with the Lord by my side I have peace.. thank Lang ! Much love bro!

    Reply
  5. William Hicks June 8, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Mr. Martinez:

    I’m not sure what can be done for addicts on the street. I think you’re among those who have a chance to change not only your own life but others. Starting with the knowledge that Meth is both highly addictive and destructive, and that never starting is the surefire to not ever getting there.

    You need to be the example to those people that really want to stop their addiction, and to children that they never get addicted.

    Your example says “it can be done.”

    Certainly government is not the answer. All they seem to do is throw more money at a problem regardless of the end result, and walk away saying how good they are.

    Reply
  6. Frederick S June 8, 2019 at 6:35 am

    I’m a business owner in Downtown Oxnard and from what I’m understanding that there was a meeting on the 5th with the City of Oxnard and service providers about our homeless situation in PLAZA PARK? I’m also know that this big important meeting had nothing to do with removing them from our PARK but to actually appease them in the park by bringing them food and handing out some kind of vouchers. Why would such a meeting to place to do more for them in our park? Do you people understand that its not safe for families to enjoy our park? We have been over run with vagrants breaking the law, most of them are not even in there right state of mind under the influence of something, most of them are on methamphetamine and not in there right mind their dangerous and cannot be trusted to be around, especially our children. Really City of Oxnard you really need to accommodate them and not law abiding CITIZENS that pay you taxes. People don’t even want to come here anymore, it’s unsafe and sanitary.

    Reply
  7. John M. June 8, 2019 at 6:14 am

    I’m a local business owner in Downtown Oxnard. From what I understand there was a meeting with the City of Oxnard INREGARDS to the situation in Plaza PARK and what should be done about our homeless situation with the homeless. I’m really not believing what I’m HEARING? I have reliable sources that tell us business owners that the meeting was not about removing them from Plaza Park, but to appease them in our Park by bringing food and giving vouchers of some kind and doing what ever the agenda is to appease them? You got to be joking about this? I’m a business owner among many and our own children and families can’t even be in the Park without out the possibility of some drug induced maniac out of there mind could possibly hurt our families or even our children. We are business owners trying to generate income to take care of our families and pay our taxes in downtown Oxnard. What I’m telling you City of Oxnard you better explain yourself? Why would they be made more important than real law abiding citizens enjoying our beautiful PLAZA PARK. I think LangMartinez said it, this is INSANITY

    Reply
  8. Langmartinez June 8, 2019 at 5:32 am

    NOBODY KNOWS BUT ME, is about my pain and struggles in my addiction. I hope that you all can see this is not a easy journey even when you have that moment of Clarity. Let me share with you what happens when we have that moment and it’s not just one time but many. We cry out to God and ask him please help me I’m begging you I don’t want to live like this anymore, PLEASE. Yes that’s definitely who we should call out to. The next thought we have is how do we get out of this situation and who do we ask? THAT’S THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE. I know for me in my condition I most definitely didn’t need a job or even housing, I needed professional help from service providers. I had to get a foundation to be able to stay sober and then to learn life on its terms not mine, before I could even be able to work or be responsible to pay my own way. You need to understand that are minds are broken, its called a stinken thinker. We do the same things over and over expecting different results and that is freaking insanity, wouldn’t you agree? I would like to thank CITIZENS JOURNAL especially George for believing in me also special Thanks for Peggy for loving LangMartinez when I’m not capable sometimes and to all of you that have made comments. Let’s find a solution that is going to benefit those in need of help.To the all of Ventura County Service Providers your idiot’s if you for one moment believe you’re lies that jobs and housing is the solution. NOW IF THAT’S NOT INSANITY I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS. LANGMARTINEZ

    Reply
  9. Lang P Martinez June 8, 2019 at 3:36 am

    I would like the public to know why I title my articles NOBODY KNOWS BUT ME? Its about 80 percent us homeless living on the streets, our addictions are just a bandaid so that we aren’t capable of feeling our pain, the pain I’m talking about is being traumatized and our deepest darkest secrets of the things that have happened to us. From the very beginning of our lives, how can we believe in hope when there was no hope from the very beginning. By having no hope brings Anger and Resentment, we strike out because we want you to feel our pain, also we believe it’s not fair for you to have happiness and we ask ourselves what about me? I hope you know why I title my articles NOBODY KNOWS BUT ME, BECAUSE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN TO YOU. HOW COULD YOU KNOW. LANGMARTINEZ

    Reply
  10. Hope June 7, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Mr. Martinez I can relate to your difficulties trying to seek out help. I am on the other end trying to seek help for friends who have addictions and are homeless. I’ve reached out to the crisis team numerous times, it’s a waiting game! Going through the process, I found myself losing hope trying to figure out the system and the next step for these individuals. I believe that there is a better way to help individuals suffering from addictions that isn’t so hard to reach or doesn’t make them lose their hope for a brighter future:) Proud of you Mr Martinez!!

    Reply
  11. ALBERTO CASTELLANOS June 7, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Trial and error. The county of Ventura is lucky my friend didn’t commit suicide because all hell would have broke lose. But since that didn’t happen and he was treated like his life had no meaning, well, now all hell is still going to break lose starting in Oxnard and all through Ventura County, he is now showing us the meaning of his new journey in Life and the change he is going to accomplish so that what he went through can not and will not happen again to any one.

    Reply
  12. C.s June 7, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Mr. Martinez i am very proud of you for even writing this article. No too many people often do that actually i have never read a article like this is the paper.
    I lnow what it is like to be homeless and a addict myself. Their are not to many people who are will to help a person in that situation. So i am very happy to hear that you actually did it and are still sober.

    Reply
  13. Commissioner Peggy Rivera COH June 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    I find the article that I just read as raw and truthful in the life of many homeless individuals in the streets right here in Oxnard. As a Commissioner on the Commission on Homelessness here in our City we have herd the same stories many times over they are desperate and many times feeling scared and alone.
    With the issue of homelessness running rapid in our County there is no easy fix with a shortage of housing, and rents so high it’s almost impossible for us to help these individuals to become good abiding citizens.
    What is needed is government funding for year round Shelter and rap around services because shelter without services is truly a band aide approach and doesn’t work. Individuals need services that are attached to programs that they can truly get the help they need. There is no easy fix to this issue services cost money to supply most organizations that work with our homeless population are non profits and funding these services are difficult to come by they do the best they can and we are very grateful for all they do.
    Here in Oxnard we have a great police department not only are the compassionate to the need they go over and above their call of duty to make a difference in lives. Our homeless task unit hs helped many homeless get back home thru the unification program and have been very successful I’m very proud of our Officers.
    What we have to remember is that I don’t think homelessness has been anyone persons life long dream or that they have prayed to God to please make them homeless. Perhaps they have fallen in to the dark hole of homelessness by loss of a job, a serious illness, loss of a home by no fault of their own, or it could be by bad choices they have chosen but for what ever it may be digging yourself out of that hole without any help is almost impossible with out housing and services.
    I’ve known Lang personally now for about 6 months now and have had many conversations with him I tell him it’s one day at a time effort and to lean on God’s understanding not his own and he seems to be doing just that taking one day at a time and I encourage him to understand it’s not Lang’s way now it’s about his personal relationship with God that is making a difference from the past times, I wish him well and continued success through his walk of recovery. There are many good homeless people out there there not all bad but it’s definitely going to take a village to help them. God Bless All.

    Reply
  14. Robert Stark June 7, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Very heart wrenching article. I seems, almost, hopeless when in the condition Mr. Martinez was in. God bless him for his perseverance and courage to continue in his struggle!

    Reply

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