MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — News 5 originally featured a Mobile man in September who was attempting the unthinkable by embarking on a 90-day “homeless on purpose” trek as a way to raise money for the homeless and find out what resources are needed to help get people off the streets.
After 3 months of living in odd places, under uncomfortable weather conditions and meeting people from all walks of life, Eric Overstreet completed his “homeless on purpose” journey on Dec. 31.
He is now preparing to donate the money he raised to a local group that builds shelters for the homeless.
Overstreet spent his first 40 days living under a bridge on I-65 and Highway 90 and then he moved into a tent for the rest of his journey.
Overstreet said majority of the people he encountered had mental illnesses, some of which were running away from abusive situations or had just fallen on bad times.
Through his journey, he has managed to raise more than his goal of $20,000 in pledges for Driftwood Housing. He also contributed to the opening of a shelter that provided many homeless people with a secure place to sleep and he even helped send 15 or more of them to rehab.
Overstreet believes the solution to ending the ongoing homelessness issue is by first having some compassion for others.
“These people are talked down to all the time so when you show them a little love and respect it changes them, I wanted to put a face on these people and just let people see that they are normal people just like me and you,” said Overstreet. “Every story is different, every person’s situation is different so how you take care of this is you take one person at a time as a community and find out what they need and nudge them in the right direction…It just made me look at people differently maybe the way God sees them.”
Overstreet said he has achieved his ultimate goal of enlightening the community about how to address the homelessness problem in our area.
“I hope we’ve changed Mobile’s mind somewhat about it and I feel like that has happened,” said Overstreet. “There’s now an army of people that want to help solve it, It’s like they’ve come out of nowhere.”
Overstreet said even though his ‘homeless on purpose’ journey has come to an end, his journey of helping people will never stop. He wants to continue getting people off the street and help open more shelters.
He also plans to write a book about his experience in the near future. Until then, his TikTok “GoingHomeless” continues to grow in views. One video has more than 111,000 views and almost 2000 likes.
“I’ve had a major heart change like truly getting to know them and living with them and experiencing their ups and downs and their fears,” said Overstreet. “It has changed my heart forever like it has really softened it, It really really humbled me.”