Former homeless man uses experience to encourage others to accept help

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A former homeless man who spent 15 years on the streets – routinely refusing help – is now back on his feet and returning to the bridge where he used to sleep, in an effort to bring help to others.

Eric LaCour tells FOX 9 that he was "stubborn" and was addicted to drugs, so he continued to refuse long-term help from the Salvation Army.

"They still continued to stretch their arm out and say, 'We're here for you,'" LaCour told FOX 9. "I think that love, that kind of love – that stretched arm – is what finally got me."

For the last four months, he's been working with the Salvation Army in Minneapolis in an intensive program that included job training. He has his own apartment and is working as a personal care assistant, FOX 9 reports.

Now that he's back on his feet, he's trying to return the favor by going back to the bridge where he used to sleep in an effort to get others to accept help like he finally did.

But there are still many who refuse his help, which he says is very hard to handle.

Statistics for the number of homeless people who refuse long-term help from organizations is not known. There are a number of reasons that homeless people refuse help, which include the safety and cleanliness of homeless shelters, mental illness and drug or alcohol abuse.

2012 Wilder Research study says that 56 percent of homeless adults are considered "long-term homeless," meaning they have been homeless for a year or longer or have been homeless four times in the past three years.

Wilder Research counted 10,214 homeless adults, youth and children in Minnesota in 2012, but says that number is an underrepresentation of the actual number of homeless people. Wilder says that on any given night in Minnesota, the total number of homeless people is estimated at over 14,000 – and over the course of a year, nearly 40,000 people are homeless.

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