The first time Candy Ream set foot out of Washington state was when she moved to Louisiana with her husband Zead, almost 11 years ago.
The last thing she wanted to do was move back to Seattle from Louisiana. But in 2017 things changed. “My brother got killed on a bike and we came up for the funeral and just got stuck here,” Ream said. “He was riding a bike and he got hit from behind and flew over the handlebars. He didn’t make it through the brain surgery.”
It was Zead who didn’t want to go back to Louisiana, so they stayed in Seattle. “It’s so expensive to live here that we ended up on the street,” Ream said. Ream found out about Real Change because they were sleeping on the steps of the front office and were seeing people milling about and came in to investigate. Ream has been selling the paper ever since.
The cost of living in Seattle was so much more than what they were used to in Hammond, Louisiana. “We both had jobs at Cracker Barrel and we had a three-bedroom house where we paid $350 for it,” said Ream. “It was too big and we moved to a one bedroom and we paid $500 and got rent, cable, Wi-Fi, water, sewage and garbage all for $500,” said Ream. For now, Ream and her husband are living on the street.
The couple tried staying in shelters. “It’s difficult staying in Seattle because there is a lot of prejudice,” said Ream, who is White while Zead is Black. It has been difficult to find housing and stay in shelters. “We get a lot of looks when we walk in places,” Ream said. They have tried shelters but being on the street is just easier. It’s also difficult to find housing for couples in Seattle.
Before meeting Zead, Ream was in an abusive relationship for 13 years. While Ream doesn’t like to talk about it, the best things in her life came out of it. She had daughters Katie, 24, and McKenna, 22. Though Ream doesn’t always get a lot of time to talk with her kids, whenever she talks about them her face lights up. Katie is in prison down in Portland and McKenna still lives with her ex. “I got to talk to both of them last week through Wi-Fi and it’s so good to hear their voices. And they sent me letters,” said Ream.
Ream tends to keep a low profile. Not wanting to be found by her ex, it can be difficult to stay in contact with anyone. She does the best that she can with the limited resources she has while living on the street. Through all of the hardships that Ream has faced, she’s always done it with grace. “God don’t give ya too much you can’t handle,” Ream said. “Though he was pushing the line for a while.”
Candy is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
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