As he ambles the parking lot of Walmart in Palm Springs pushing two grocery carts of assorted cold breakfast cereal, torn, dirty blankets, and empty containers, a man whose left arm, left leg and left side of his face are partially paralyzed is among the lush community’s homeless.
His speech is slurred.
He has a name.
It is Greg Jacobs. He owns it.
His “residence” is a camping spot on what he calls the flat tops east of Walmart. It’s a barren and desolate parcel of land.
At 50 years old, Jacobs, who said he once worked as a travel agent for Maryland-based CruisingAgents.com, is clad in tattered clothes and is unshaven. His hands are weathered and covered in dirt. Grit is embedded beneath is fingernails. He apologized. Said he hadn’t been able to wash.
As he tells it, Jacobs had some trouble with expired license tags on is motorhome sometime back. But an alleged gang shooting on Nov. 21, 2015 cemented his fate on the streets.
“They shot me in the head and in the stomach,” he said. “Then they ran over me with their car and tried to set me on fire.”
He claims he was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center and was in a coma for “seven months and two days.” Uken Report could not independently verify his admission to the hospital due to patient privacy laws.
Uken Report could also not immediately locate news reports of a gang shooting on the date in question. Doesn’t mean it did not happen.
He said surgery left him with a crater-like hole in his head. Indeed, touching his head through his stocking cap revealed something like half his head was missing. It was jolting.
“You’re lucky to be alive,” this reporter said.
“This isn’t living,” he scoffed. “This is existing.”
As a $5 bill was pressed into his palm, a toothless smile emerged.
“Wow,” he said. “Two dollars would have been plenty. This will buy me a cold Coca-Cola and a quarter pound hot dog at 7-11. The combo is $2.22.”
Jacobs will likely be among those counted later this month when Riverside County conducts its 2018 Point-In-Time Homeless Street Count and Survey on Tuesday, Jan. 23 in Palm Springs.
Volunteers are needed from 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. to survey individuals experiencing homelessness in Palm Springs, so they can be provided with programs and services that will best fit their needs. No prior experience with the Homeless Count is needed. Volunteer training sessions will be offered prior to the count.
The Point-In-Time (PIT) Homeless Count is a one-day street and service-based count and population survey of Riverside County’s sheltered and unsheltered homeless population. The goal is to identify how many individuals are homeless on a given day so that the county has the most current information in order to better understand the factors surrounding their housing crisis and accomplish local and federal goals toward ending homelessness.
On the day of the count, a brief orientation will be held at 6 a.m. and then volunteers will be sent out to their assigned locations to begin the Homeless Count. Volunteers will be divided into groups of three people for each assignment. Volunteers must be able to provide their own transportation to the assigned area.
To register to volunteer visit www.palmspringsca.gov and click on Residents where you will find a link for the Point-In-Time Homeless Count. For more information, residents can also contact the County Point-in-Time Coordinator at (951) 358-3844.
- Homeless man: Cindy Uken