Matt Hill has been homeless off and on for the past 10 years. He got out of school with a degree in business administration, worked for a while, and then got fired.
“Ever since then, I’ve had problems finding office work in multiple states. I have severe sleep apnea, so I’m tired at all times of the day and oversleep constantly.”
Matt is from the Bay Area originally. “Growing up was a bit of an adventure, but childhoods mostly are.” Asked for one of his memories from childhood, he says, “Every once in a while my dad would drive us up to Toys ‘R’ Us. We would always come back with a new game or even a new system. Gaming is still my life.”
Matt has some significant mobility issues, but that doesn’t stop him from being socially active, enjoying gaming and watching wrestling. “I play Dungeons and Dragons. I play games with online communities. I’ve been participating with co-op and competitive playing on teams and battle-arena games. I’m the co-leader of an up-and-coming clan of people using actual interpretations of gods like Ra, Aphrodite, pantheons of old-school gods. I make videos and I stream game-playing.”
Matt had come to Seattle to start over. “I was about to be homeless again in the middle of Tennessee, which probably would have been my grave. I would have been living in a tent next to Wal-Mart.”
He started working for Real Change in August 2015. “I was uncomfortable being without any sort of work whatsoever.”
He’s been selling the paper at the downtown train station. “[Even] the holidays weren’t great compared to the other vendors. But they were a lot to me. Now I’m just walking away with nothing, constantly. There’s a large amount of traffic. It’s just people are in a hurry to catch a train.”
Still, “I like what I’m doing because I’m making people smile, but that doesn’t pay bills.” He does his best to get people’s attention.
“I’m the most loud obnoxious vendor you could imagine, trying to be that positive person that tries to bring something to somebody’s day, especially because it’s after work and everybody’s thinking, ‘Oh, my life sucks.’”
Because of physical disability, Matt can sell only about 10 hours a week. Social anxiety also plays a part. “I don’t do well in a setting where people walk back and forth, giving me weird looks. That’s the most difficult thing for me, to put that aside.”
Matt’s on a wait list for a Section 8 voucher for housing and has his name in for an apartment in Bellevue. He tries to stay positive.
“If you don’t have something that you believe in, you can’t live your life. If you have that extra part of you that is willing to help others out, that is the greatest thing you can possibly do. If you’re out there trying to make life better for other people, you are truly an honorable and just person.”