Once a successful singer, Jonny Fair struggles with mental health and housing

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Jonny Fair in front of a small sidewalk garden Photo by Jackson Cantrell

Jonny Fair is a former musician, and motorcycle salesman who lives in Long Beach. As recently as 2012 he played in venues across the United States and recorded tracks with the Jordanaires of Elvis fame.



Now he faces homelessness and chronic mental health issues.

I have chronic depression and schizoaffective disorder with mixed-affective states. I don’t know what I look like and I don’t know who I am. Sometimes I don’t think I’m ill.

It’s hard to function in society. I will go to the grocery store and walk down the the aisles to pick out what I need - all the items, but when I get to the cash register, I panic. I don’t care how hungry I am. I’ll just put all the items back in the places they’re supposed to go if I’m even able to. Sometimes I’ll just walk away from the cart, but I feel bad because I want to put them back away…

Jonny Fair with the Jordanaires

Jonny Fair (center) poses with the Jordanaires. Photo courtesy of Jonny Fair

You have been homeless on and off for 6 years. When you are homeless where do you stay?

Before I used to stay on the beach and I would dig a hole. And then I would have some cardboard and then I would put sand over the cardboard and get underneath the hole. But one time the lifeguards drove over it. They would’ve killed me if I was in that hole, so I stopped doing it.

So now you have a place, but your rent went up to $1,100 in January. How do you make it work?

The long answer is: I can stretch a penny into a copper wire. I don’t buy anything. I get my food from food banks and dumpsters. I go to donut shops after they close right when they throw their food away. I can’t even afford toilet paper. I use junk mail.

The short answer is, if I don’t get more help, I’m going to be homeless. Maybe even this month.

I went to Big 5 the other day and I priced the tents. and I’m thinking about getting like a two man tent so they’ll be a little room. For myself. I don’t have many things, I’ve thrown most of my stuff away.

-- By Jackson Cantrell

Credits

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Kathryn Barnes

Reporter:
Jackson Cantrell