Following his eviction, Scott found a new place to live through a friend from Narcotics Anonymous. The friend’s nephew D.P., a gang member who has recently been released from prison, becomes Scott’s new roommate. Scott still works with the cleaning team, but is getting fewer and fewer jobs. One evening Scott admits to D.P. that his neck and back are aching. However, he can’t go to the doctor, as this would only result in being prescribed pain medication. Scott still goes back to the trailer park to buy Vicodin.
Like many impoverished addicts, Scott finds that his attempts to come off drugs are thwarted by the circumstances around him. Even if he had an extreme level of discipline, the difficulty of surviving as a poor person (and someone who is underemployed, housing insecure, and in chronic pain) means that drug use becomes almost impossible to avoid.
Scott believes that Pam and Ned are responsible for their own eviction because they spend money on drugs. Heroin Susie agrees. This is a contrast to the past, when renters tended to see themselves as a collective class and would fight together for better rates and conditions. In order for this kind of protest to happen, people must believe that their circumstances are unjust and that it is possible for them to change. In the case of rent, tenants need to believe that they have a duty to each other and that they have a right to live in their homes and neighborhoods.
Protest alone cannot change the housing system; even if all tenants banded together to fight for their rights, it wouldn’t be enough unless wealthier people, property owners, and lawmakers joined the fight too. However, the fact that tenants too often do not see themselves as a group of people with mutual interests has stalled progress on housing.
This is not the case in the trailer park. Most residents do not have a strong attachment to it and do not acknowledge the community that exists there. They know the immense traumas and hardships their neighbors experience, and this is part of the reason why many simply cannot believe that anything will eventually get better. Few question Tobin’s enormous wealth or connect it to their own deprivation. Their minds are overwhelmed by the task of surviving each day. Moreover, tenants are constantly reminded that no matter how cruel their landlord is, there is always another landlord out there who’s worse.
This passage illustrates an important detail in tenants’ relationship to their homes: it is difficult to fight for your right to live somewhere if you do not actually want to live there. Living in a trailer park is stigmatized, and residents thus do not want to think of the park as their home. Such stigma needs to end, and part of how this could be done is by ensuring all housing (including trailers) was safe, clean, functional, and comfortable.
Scott loses his keys and has to break a window to get back into his apartment. That same week, the electricity goes out and he is fired, replaced by a group of hypes who will work for next to nothing. He knows that these dire circumstances make him vulnerable to falling deeper into addiction. He calls his mother in tears, and she reminds him that he can always come home. However, Scott doesn’t know how to get to Iowa and worries about how he would score heroin once there. He doesn’t want his family to think of him as a failure.
Once again, Scott’s desire to come off drugs conflicts with the circumstances of his life, which make it extremely difficult for him to fathom getting clean (let alone have the resources to go through with it). Of course, this isn’t to say that Scott’s desire for drugs isn’t part of the problem—it clearly is, as his concern about obtaining heroin in Iowa shows.
Instead of going home, Scott checks himself into rehab. There is a line at the rehab center and Scott soon realizes he might not be accepted that day. After failing to secure a place, he leaves and goes on a three-day bender.
This is a key example of how the underfunding of resources prevents those who have a desire to make positive improvements in their lives from going through with it.