Homeless in Suburbia

Michael Lyddon slept on this bench at night because he had nowhere else to go. According to elected officials in Fort Bend, though, he doesn't exist

Michael's mom pays for his cell phone, which rings every few minutes. First his dad calls to check in, then his girlfriend to apologize about something or other and finally his buddies to ask about his plans for the night. Michael wants to lie down somewhere and just relax, but he's not comfortable lounging in Steve-O's house. That's only for sleeping. He hopes to lift weights later on and waits on a call from his friend Nathan, who belongs to Pecan Grove Plantation Country Club. Nathan sometimes takes Michael as his guest and lets him put dinner on his family's expense account.

Carmen Oliver, Steve-O's mom, says Michael doesn't ask for favors from anyone. "I have to push him to eat. I offer advice and he just smiles." Upstairs in the house, in a bedroom once occupied by Steve-O's older sister, there sits a freshly laundered, neatly folded pile of Michael's clothes courtesy of Mrs. O. Similar stacks of Michael's stuff can be found in several other homes in the neighborhood.

An hour or so passes and the guys play two-on-two basketball in Steve-O's driveway. Michael shows some skill, blocking and sinking shots. They break and watch Steve-O's uncle wash his dog, then wander back to the pickup truck. Michael's dad calls again. He tries to see his old man at least once a week. "I'm always gonna love him," he says, "but there are some things he's got to fix."

Michael Lyddon slept on this bench at night because he had nowhere else to go. According to elected officials in Fort Bend, though, he doesn't exist.
Daniel Kramer
Michael Lyddon slept on this bench at night because he had nowhere else to go. According to elected officials in Fort Bend, though, he doesn't exist.
Lyn Storm runs the lone shelter program in Missouri City, which turns away homeless youths, people with criminal backgrounds and mental health or substance abuse issues.
Daniel Kramer
Lyn Storm runs the lone shelter program in Missouri City, which turns away homeless youths, people with criminal backgrounds and mental health or substance abuse issues.

As six o'clock approaches, the sun goes down and the air turns cold. Michael still hasn't heard back from Nathan. He's getting restless. Everybody except Michael starts making plans. "What are you doing?" one teen asks. "Yeah, what are you guys doing?" another echoes. "I don't know, man. What do you want to do?" a third kid joins in. But the questions are meaningless. They know exactly what they're doing. It's dinnertime. They're going home.

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