Kurt Saindon is just as familiar with humor as he is with sleeping outside. From his sales point along Tom McCall Waterfront Park, he peppers passersby with an assortment of jokes. His goofy antics are part of his pitch to sell Street Roots newspaper, because, he says, he prefers his customers to be at leisure as he enthusiastically engages with them about the content of the paper and the joys of being a human. Spend time around Kurt and you will immediately become aware of the good-natured charisma that he brings to every conversation.
Kurt’s experience with homelessness began after being released from the military. He was prescribed an array of medications for his PTSD.
“The only difference between the addicts on the street and me was I had a prescription. I was a legitimate walking dope addict.” Kurt then went on a spiritual journey to rid himself of the numbness prescription opiates often bring. He started working for the street newspaper in Colorado and then was employed by the Colorado State Hospital as peer support, transitioning patients as they left the facility. He left Colorado’s cold weather to seek a similar peer support position at the Oregon State Hospital. He needs to volunteer there for 30 days and in the meantime is working with Street Roots to sustain his living. “This paper truly helps people transition; I’ve already seen it in the short time that I’ve been here”
Kurt says humor “takes some of the sting away” from the stigma of not having a home. “I just want to say thank you for all of the random acts of kindness along the way.” If you ever spend a few moments with Kurt, you are sure to be a recipient of some of this kindness.
“This community fooled me, I’m so used to the government and churches being the ones to take care of those struggling with homelessness, Portland is not like that. This community takes care of this community.”