Ana Zinkovitch and Kevyn Warren sat recently at a picnic table by City Hall in Waterville, shielding their small black cat, Buddy, from the wind.

It was 45 degrees and leaves were blowing around Castonguay Square as they talked about preparing to move back into a tent in the woods where they had lived much of the summer.

“I’m going to get a camping propane tank when I get my next check,” said Warren, 28. “We’ve got to get it because Ana’s anemic so I don’t want her to be cold.”

He and Zinkovitch, 19, are homeless, though recently they have stayed a few days here and there with people who offered them a temporary bed or couch. They continue to look for an affordable apartment or room.

Ana Zinkovitch and Kevyn Warren sat recently with their cat, Buddy, in Castonguay Square next to City Hall in Waterville. The homeless pair continue to search for an apartment or room they can afford to rent. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

“It’s just kind of hard to live in a tent,” Zinkovitch said. “It’s not like a roof over your head.”

I first met the two Sept. 13 as they were leaving the health and welfare department at City Hall with Zinkovitch’s cousin, Willis Carlow, who later went to live in a camper in Clinton. At the time, they were pushing a grocery cart with all their belongings, including Buddy, and their other cat, Shadow.

They were not eligible to get assistance from the city as their income was too high, according to paperwork they produced. Warren works at Burger King where he earns $250 a week and he also gets $500 a month in disability payments. Both he and Zinkovitch, who is hearing impaired, receive food stamps and she is awaiting the results of an SSI disability review.

After I initially wrote about the trio, they got recognized on the street.

“We had some people stop by and give us money,” Zinkovitch said. “It was enough to be able to get things that we need, like food. A woman gave us a Dunkin’ Donuts burrito. She also gave us five bucks.”

An animal control officer also approached them to check on the cats.

“Someone told her we kept Buddy in a trash bag,” Warren said. “She looked him over and she said that he is the most healthiest cat, to be with a bunch of homeless people.”

Finding a place to live is harder because they have cats, but they refuse to abandon them.

“I don’t want to give up on them,” Zinkovitch said. “I really love both of them. I would not be able to sleep. I would be nonstop crying.”

They hope that before the worst part of the winter gets here, they find an apartment or room. But rents are high, with some apartments going for $1,000 or more.

“We’ll take anything at this point,” Zinkovitch said. “I don’t want the cats out in the winter.”

Warren said he hopes he can save enough to buy an electric bike if they find a place that’s not within walking distance of his job at Burger King.

“I’m doing a good job,” he said. “My boss, B.J., said I’m doing an excellent job there, that I’m a hard worker. I’m hoping this job takes me far and I’m able to do more things and one day be some type of manager.”

But they still haven’t found a place and dread the idea of moving back into a tent, particularly as temperatures are forecasted to drop this weekend.

“We don’t have anything to start a fire,” Zinkovitch said.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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