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Robin "Nadia" Mitchell and Walter Nelson

By Greg Asciutto

Robin Mitchell, who goes by the name of “Nadia” on the streets of South Los Angeles, has been chronically homeless for 15 years. Originally from New York, she moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, though she questions why she left every day.

“I swear to God I’d give my right arm and my left leg to get back to New York,” she said.

“Nadia” and her boyfriend Walter Nelson spend most of their days in South Park, located off Avalon Boulevard. According to Mitchell, 44, substance abuse is the main reason she’s on the streets. Both she and Nelson use their General Relief funds, about $220 per month, to support countless addictions that have consumed the past two decades of their lives.

“There’s nothing nice out here,” she said. “It’s like being in a big old bucket with 10 crabs. They keep pulling each other down.”

Nelson, now in his sixties, has lived in Los Angeles for most of his life. He has been on the streets since 2006, when he got out of prison and found that his mobile home had been impounded. Heroin is his drug of choice.

“I don’t share needles,” he said. “I’ll tell you the truth, I’m lucky I’m not HIV-positive, because when I was younger, I was willing to take those chances. As I got older, I stopped. I’m truly lucky that I didn’t get HIV.”

The couple have searched for an apartment for months, but they can’t financially balance both their addictions and a permanent home. Three months after this interview was conducted, they continue to live on the streets.

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