By Kelly Callas, Contributor
For tourists and locals alike, the streets of Pacific Beach are the paths of a playground that run along cool beaches and lively bars.
For Bryan Joseph Brzezowski, they’re a good place to sleep.
Having recently relocated from the blistering heat of East County for the fresh breeze of PB, Brzezowski recollects the exact day he became a resident of the streets.
“I was fired Sept. 1, 2008″ he said. “By Sept. 7, I was homeless.”
He admitted a mild bout of schizophrenia was to blame for this loss of employment. However, despite his setbacks, Brzezowski is no doubt an articulate man.
According to a Point-In-Time survey on the San Diego’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless website, Brzezowski qualifies as part of the 26.7 percent homeless individuals who reported struggling with mental illness while showing no obvious signs of impairment.
Also based on RTFH statistics, he is part of the 12.8 percent increase in unsheltered homeless individuals in San Diego County this year.
Numbers aside, it is important to remember Brzezowski is not a mere statistic. He finds invaluable companionship in his dog, Ladybug, and is grateful for any contribution that keeps her in good health.
“That’s the biggest blessing I could ever ask for,” he said. “I care more about my dog than I care about me. She comes first.”
Because many shelters will not allow pets without a proof of service animal license, Brzezowski chooses to remain outdoors. For this reason, he must select his nighttime sleeping arrangements carefully in order to avoid confrontation with local police.
“When it comes right down to it, you just have to make sure you’re out of sight,” he said.
In the daylight, Brzezowski can easily be found off the boardwalk, barefoot, with a book in hand and Ladybug by his side. After being hit by a Ford F-150 while crossing a street in July last year, moving around is not easy. Luckily for him, there are often friends around to help.
Despite a lack of food and possessions, homeless men and women are not beyond sharing. During the interview, a homeless friend stopped by to give Brzezowski the other half of his burrito, just because.
Whatever opinions that may be held in regard to the homeless, one thing must be realized: These people are human, and for those who do not partake in aggressive panhandling, civility is not so much to ask for.
“Some of us are out here by choice and some of us are out here because we have no choice,” Brzezowski said. “Just be nice to the homeless.”