So far this week I've raised a total of 16 dollars through paypal.
Besides having to pay for all my basics, I have these new expenses - rent of a storage space to keep my valuables in - $107 a month, podcasting channel - 30 dollars a month, phone with wifi hotspot $120 a month, to have a clean and hot water shower when I need it, 30 dollars for a gym membership. etc.
If you 'd like to help with some of these expenses you can send donations directly to my paypal account at firstname.lastname@example.org
It comes up every time. When people discuss homelessness in San Diego, or in any other fair weather city, there will be those who blame the good whether for attracting homeless people.
But that just doesn't stand up to the factual information we have about homeless people.
San Diego county has 8,500 homeless people.
NYC has over 60,000 homeless people.
Now consider the weather in each city. Think about this past winter and how NYC had near record snowfall and low temperatures. In both total population and in rates of homeless people per 100,000 citizens, NYC has 3 times more homeless than San Diego.
Are homeless people really more interested in Snowboarding than Sailing? or does weather just not play a part in a homeless person's decision about where to live?
There are three ways this could be explained. I'll get the easy one out of the way first. This property, next to the St. Vincent DePaul's homeless shelter may not belong to anyone in the homelessness industry, and they just building on their property - as developers are prone to do. If this is the case, then there is no problem here. BUT this sure looks suspicious and I'll tell you why.
As stated in that article, "The St. Vincent proposal will be considered by the Housing Commission later this week and by the council on March 24. The U-T Editorial Board strongly urges its approval."
The problem I'm having is that it looks like St Vincent's has already broken ground on new construction (see above picture) and it's only the 15th of March.
So, I'm wondering, did St Vincent's already win the contract for the new shelter behind closed doors, and for whatever reason has rushed to begin construction ahead of announcement, and has the city bypassed protocol and perhaps broken the law by skipping the city's official review process?
Or, did St. Vincent's already have this new building program underway - separate from it's proposal to build a new homeless shelter for the city? If so, will St Vincent's use the money granted for the city's new homeless shelter to pay for this other building project?
I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think the San Diego Housing Commission and St Vincent's owes the city an explanation of what's going on here. And should be more proactively transparent of it's actions in the future.
As for granting St Vincent's this new contract for building and running a new shelter system, I think it's problematic. San Diego needs to encourage more people and organizations to be created and to get involved in the care and services of the homeless. There is already too much of a monopoly over the homeless industry in San Diego, and it does no good to have so many homeless people's lives being affected by so few people.
If I am going to survive this next journey through the valley of the shadow of death, I'll need some serious financial support from you, my readers. It's been a while. You know what needs to be done, now is the time to do it. As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Well, I'm all out of ideas about where I can live once this shelter closes on March 31st. I will be spending that night on the streets, unless something comes up. It's funny but my blogging, etc., is more productive when I'm without a shelter. It causes me to be more in touch with what's happening on the streets. And since I will no longer have a curfew, I can stay in the cafes' until late at night, writing and whatnot. Lets hope that the rainy season is over and the nights warm up some more.
It's a matter of approach. I know of a very well meaning director of a homeless shelter who wants to be fair to all his charges. and when he has care to offer, he gives each person the very same thing. This prevents some homeless from complaining that they didn't receive the same care that other homeless received. The problem with this approach is that the needs of the homeless are all different.
Homeless people should be receiving help according to what they need, not what they want. It also happens all over the homelessness industry. people who work at shelters often think in terms of what they want to give, instead of terms of what the homeless need. They make one decision that affects all the homeless, instead of making decisions to the specific needs of each homeless person.
Some homeless people are so terribly addicted to drugs that they need a facility that would be very difficult for them to leave for a good length of time. This person is best served in a place where he is kept away from drugs, and drugs are kept away from him. Many rescue missions require that homeless people in their programs never leave their property. This person and these rescue missions are a good match. But...
There are also homeless people who don't have any addiction problems, perhaps they have mental health issues related to anxiety, stress. They easily become claustrophobic. This homeless person would never last in a rescue mission program like this, (most rescue mission programs last 6 months to a year. Actually, there are few people that I know of who have never been homeless, who could voluntarily survive a program that restricts them to a building or property lot.) And if you're wondering, yes, it's very similar to being in jail. There are few rescue missions, well, none that I know of, that cater specifically to the issues that the mentally ill deal with.
Treating an addict like a mentally ill person, and a mentally ill person like an addict just doesn't meet their needs, and is truly unfair to both.
So, this is a short teaser I made a month or so,ago. I've been ill for the past few months and so I'm just now able to do the podcasting thing. I had originally planned to start this January 1st. But, only now has the majority of my cough gone away. Besides having the flu, I've had a lingering sinus problem since I arrived in San Diego. I remember, when I was a kid I used to get ear infections and the croop fairly regularly. I guess pleasant weather doesn't guarantee a healthier life. Also, with being sick, and the weather being below par here this past winter, I've been struggling with depression. And I've been struggling to get good sleep. Yeah, I'm a mess. And at the end of the month the winter shelters will be closing and I'll be back to concrete surfing.
On the positive side, the weather was actually nice yesterday, and today should be another typical nice San Diego day, weather wise, and that always makes me feel better. And yesterday I did secure for myself a place to store my things, so I won't have to lug everything around with me. I think too, that my self storage spot may be a good place to record my podcasts. It was fairly quiet there.
Perhaps the worst culprit in generating unreasonable, and plain old false expectations, are the organizations who work directly with the homeless. So busy at raising funds, and attempting to win favor with the public and public officials, homeless service agencies tell one big fib after another, both about the work the do, and their achievements.
A rescue mission will make a big deal over 250 homeless people completing their rehab program, (usually a year long program), but what they don't say is how many people they were unable to help. Rescue missions in medium to large size cities will usually see 5000 or more people coming to them for assistance. Only helping 250 out of 5000, no longer seems significant.
Many of the graduates of rescue mission programs will fall back into homelessness in a short time, or they will never be able to move beyond the mission and to a life of independent living. Many become institutionalized to the rescue mission life and never leave. Or, they make it to a point of independence but will still fall back into homelessness with in a year. Rescue missions never provide those numbers, they don't collect information on recidivism.
Even the agencies that have moved beyond the arcane practices of rescue missions, and are embracing the latest techniques for ending homelessness, are often over promising results. They know that the new programs work, but their civic and political overseers underfund them, or are under the false impression that they don't have to fully commit to these programs, such as Housing First, or Rapid Rehousing. They may be thinking that 1/2 the efforts will get them 1/2 the results (and will consider that as acceptable) but these programs really don't work unless they are fully supported and engaged. Also, these agencies that receive funding to end homelessness are required to prove their usefulness, and this puts their case managers in the position of having to misrepresent their success. So to show good numbers on paper, the majority of their efforts are being spend on the homeless who need it the least, and they are all but ignoring the homeless who need it most - that is, the worst case homeless, the chronically homeless. Although such agencies may be able to produce minimum acceptable numbers, these cities are seeing no noticeable difference in the number of homeless on the streets. And as usual the truly chronically homeless end up neglected instead of prioritized, as promised by these programs.
Worst of all, the agencies will excuse their lack of success by blaming the homeless. If it were possible for the chronically homeless to get off the streets under their own volition, they would have already done so. Obviously they need the help of case managers. Case managers that will do more than just tell the homeless what they need to do. Most homeless people know what needs to be done, but don't have the ability to do it themselves. That's why they are chronically homeless, and why they need help from agencies. They don't need a case manager to tell them to go apply for an apartment, they need a case manager who will go and take care of that issue for them. If a homeless person goes and asks a landlord to rent to them, most likely the landlord will deny their request. The case manager needs to go to the landlord and discuss the special needs of that homeless person, and secure the housing for the homeless person.
Despite all the promises, and claims to improve things, nothing is changing on the streets, and there are just as many homeless people as ever.
If you don't really know and understand homelessness, how can you have any reasonable expectations about homeless people, especially about their rehabilitation back to an acceptable position in society? Yet more and more, people are placing their expectations onto the homeless. This happens everywhere, with families, with homeless shelters, with downtown business partnerships, with HUD, and the list goes on. None of these people have taken the time to truly understand homelessness and homeless people, and yet they feel completely comfortable placing expectations on the homeless. You'll hear your fellow citizens say something like, 'why don't they just get a job?" or they'll tell a homeless person directly, "get a job, you bum," as if all the homeless person needs to do is get a job and then miraculously all their problems are solved and they are no longer homeless. Sorry to inform you, but employment doesn't cure homelessness. It will certainly assist in the process of leaving homelessness, but having a job is not a cure all.
People will also allow a homeless friend to stay with them for a while, but will then, suddenly and unexpectedly, will kick their homeless friend out of their house. It usually starts out with "yeah you can stay until you get back on your feet" and the person expects that this will only take his homeless friend one month. Of course the person never mentions this expectation to his homeless friend. He just drops it like a bomb, when there's nothing his homeless friend can do about it. For you information, it takes about 3 to 4 months for the average homeless person to overcome their homelessness. And this certainly does not take into consideration the issues that chronically homeless people deal with.
Business owners and other conservative types have convinced themselves that homeless people "choose" to be homeless, and that all homeless people need to do is "choose" to not be homeless, and everything will be taken care of. This too is an unreasonable, and unrealistic, expectation. The truth is, no one really chooses to be homeless. Still, these business owners and conservative types, (and to be honest, no small number of liberals) believe that they can motivate the homeless to become "un"homeless, by making homelessness as difficult a life as possible. The powerful business people talk to their politicians about what they think is best, and the politicians turn around and tell the police to take measures against the homeless, and they end up harassing the homeless in every possible way - they prevent the homeless from getting adequate sleep, the prevent the homeless from getting fed, they prevent the homeless from integrating with the rest of society. Although none of their tactics have actually been proven to reduce homelessness, they persist, in the belief that next time they only need to be more forceful in their tactics against the homeless, to be successful. And so things continually worsen for the homeless, more people end up dying while homeless, and the harassment by the police has only made getting out of homelessness all more the difficult.
All this and more happens only because people's expectations of homeless people is not based on reality - they don't really know or understand homeless people. And so far, no one has made is a requirement of society that people have an accurate understanding.
I'm trying to get things in order, as the shelter tent will close soon - March 31st. But I am having a Dickens of a time. At the first of the year I fell into a depression. Soon after I developed a cold. I battled that cold until the end of January when it seemed that I had finally overcome it. Then at the first of February I got hit with an even tougher cold that was harder to shake off. And with this cold I developed a bad cough. At mid-February it seemed as though I had overcome this cold and was on the mend, and then last night renewed cold symptoms returned yet again with congestion and a runny nose.
So far it's a month and a 1/2 of time wasted on illness when I should have been doing something more important with myself. This is the story of my life, something always gets in the way of doing something important. The only time I don't have problems like this is when I don't try. grrr.
I still have an ugly cough and have to blow my nose an excessive amount. But that's a whole lot better situation than I was in just a week ago. As I've said before, homeless shelters are a lot like day care centers. There are just too many people too close to each other for too long of a period, for people to be able to maintain their health. A kid in a day care coughs and the next day all the kids are coughing. Some guy comes into a shelter with the flu and within just a couple days, everyone in the shelter has the flu. It's the natural result of treating people like things that only need to be warehoused for a time. In most shelters, the beds, (most often bunk beds) are placed just 2 feet apart. So, as the homeless sleep they are breathing in what the others are exhaling. And when one coughs with a mouth full of germs, those germs are going to make it into the mouths of the other homeless in the shelter. Add to that that many of the homeless don't make use of basic hygiene considerations. They don't cover their mouths when they cough, they spit on the ground, they don't bathe but every few days, etc,
Well, I've been sick for over a month now, and it has been no picnic. Some nights I couldn't sleep for all the coughing I was doing. And I'm sure my coughing was keeping others awake as well. I spent a lot of money on, and took plenty of, over the counter medicines, but they did little good. I guess i would have been much worse off without them. Every breath I took was difficult. My stomach muscles and side muscles ache from all the coughing I've been doing. For a while I couldn't lay down on my bed without setting off a major coughing event. The only way I could get sleep was by sitting up in a chair. Some nights I was lucky to get two hours of sleep. Runny nose, coughing, stuffy sinuses, sinus headaches, the only symptom I didn't develop was a sore throat. Thank goodness.
The problem now is that we are just 6 weeks away from the closing of this winter shelter, and I am no where near the goals I had set for myself when I first got here. I will most likely miss running in the 5k. And the podcast I had hoped to launch at the first of the year is still just a file full of notes on my computer.
Having a place to stay once they close this shelter will be a trick, and I don't have any magic on me.
At least the weather is getting better here. The warm days help my breathing, although at night the people running the shelter still refuse to turn on the heater. Being cold from sunset to sunrise sure isn't helping me, or anyone else in the shelter, get better.
In the world of bureaucracies, problems must be identified and well defined before they can be solved. AND the solutions to those problems must also be identified and well defined. And in applying the solution to the problem, the bureaucrat must follow all the rules and regulations that have been predetermined by the bureaucracy. To operate outside of the rules and regulations can cause an organization to loose its funding, as well cause people to lose their jobs for their transgressions.
In the world of social services this dynamic makes life easy for the employee, considering that they only have to do as they are told. But at the same time may make their job very difficult if all the issues relating to their job have not been thoroughly thought out by the regulation creators. And that always happens.
And this is where the concept of "falling through the cracks" comes from. The cracks in social services are all those issues concerning the people the bureaucracy is attempting to help, that the bureaucracy has overlooked, or has not adequately addressed.
By HUDs definition I am considered "Chronically Homeless" and so that should prioritize me for receiving help in getting off the streets. BUT because I have not been a great nuisance to the city - I never get drunk and end up in the emergency room, or in jail, and I never act out like mentally ill homeless people do, causing the police to arrest me - so I am passed over for assistance and am left to continue suffering on the streets. I also don't qualify for help from the VA because I was in the Navy for only 22 months instead of the required 24. And I don't get any Social Security payments because I never had a steady work history, (all because my mental health issues prevented me from staying employed for very long at any one job) . I do get a check from SSI, but it does not cover the cost of living even a minimal life. SSI payments have not kept up with the cost of living.
What help that is available from Housing First or Rapid Rehousing in San Diego (perhaps my only real chance of help to get off the streets) is conditional on the homeless person's ability to go out and acquire their own housing, first. Only after a homeless person has applied for and has been accepted for an apartment will agencies step up to offer more assistances. For my situation, that will never happen. To get an apartment, a social worker would have to make the arrangements for me, will have to convince the landlord to accept me as a renter, regardless of my condition. And at least here in San Diego, no one is doing that for the homeless.
Being homeless is a miserable existence, and if I'm not able to get off the streets for good and soon, I will end up dying this way.