This was part of an email I received yesterday:
"I’m sorry it took longer than I anticipated, but I’m happy to let you know that I received documentation of a disabling condition for you, so I have confirmed that you do meet the eligibility requirements for our program. We’re really looking forward to working with you! I’d like to get together with you soon to discuss housing options and some other things I think our program can offer you. Please call me..."
Friday, February 29, 2008
This was part of an email I received yesterday:
Thursday, February 28, 2008
TITLE 42 CHAPTER 119
of The U.S. Code
Definition of a homeless person
... the term “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person”  includes—
(1) an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and
(2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is—
(A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
(B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
(C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
Witches are bad, and we shouldn't allow them to exist in our society. We must therefore be diligent in removing them from among us a much as humanly possible.
So, how can you tell if someone is a witch? Well, you strap the accused to a chair, and drop the chair into a pond or river. If the person can manage to keep the chair afloat, and not drown, well then, he/she is obviously a witch. Once determined to be a witch they should then be burned at the stake. If, on the other hand, the person drowns and dies, well then, we'll know they weren't a witch after all. Of course they are dead, but at least their innocence is proven.
That is the way things used to be, especially among so called Christians. And this practice of drowning people accused of being witches lasted about 600 years. And I really doubt, during that time, that anyone was ever able to keep afloat.
But, have we, as a society, really advanced beyond such practices?
The call is now on to take away what few services are currently being given to the homeless. The belief behind this idea is that, once a homeless person no long has any services, no shelter, no food, no right to be anywhere, not even in public spaces, like parks or sidewalks, then they will become non-homeless.
Just how far are people willing to go with this idea? Until the homeless begin to die from a lack of food, and protection from the elements? Will it have to get to that point before people realize that it is not the food and shelter given to homeless people that makes them, or keeps them, homeless?
There is certainly no science to back up such notions that denying services to homeless people motivates them to leave homelessness. But then again, witch hunts weren't based on science either.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Homelessness, by itself, is not a social problem, but is a symptom of social problems. Trying to end homelessness by attacking only homelessness will not succeed. It would be like trying to curing someone of the flu by blowing their nose. It is only by dealing with the issues that cause homelessness, that will end, or at least reduce, homelessness.
What most often leads to this misunderstanding about homelessness, is that, institutionally, there is no separation of homeless types. Instead, all homeless people, regardless of the reason they are homeless, are lumped together, forced exist in one place, or facility. Usually, it is in a religious based, most often fundamentalist christian, facility, operated, not by well trained social workers, but by under educated religious zealots. There are some very good exceptions, though, such as run by Catholic Charities. But in most cities, Catholic Charities do not operate homeless shelters.
For the alcoholic homeless person to get off the streets, he must end the alcoholism, or at least get it under control. To get the mentally ill homeless person off the streets, he end the mental illness, or at least get it under control. And that applies to every type of issue leading to homelessness. When a woman has to flee her home with her children, because of an abusive husband/boyfriend, she must first be completely separated from the abusive relationship/s she gets into. When a person becomes homeless because of poor money management (the number one reason people become short term homeless) they must get their finances under control.
Now, at Monday's "Quality of Life in Downtown Nashville" forum, one person tried to cast dispersions on homeless people as a whole. One of the ways he tried to do that was by declaring many homeless people to be criminals. He said he had once sat on the Grand Jury, and was surprised that many people being bound over had a shelter as their home address.
First of all, poor people are least likely to obtain good legal counsel. Mostly, homeless people have to depend on public defenders, who never have enough time or resources to properly defend their clients. Additionally, you have a criminal justice system that inadvertently promotes homelessness. At least I hope it is inadvertant.
After a person has paid their debt to society, and leaves jail or prison, he/she often has no place to go. And, our society begin so bent on "independence" creates a situation were people live alone, having no family or friends intimately close enough to help out during trying times. Whatever job a person has before incarsaration is gone when they get out; so is their apartment, and all other worldly possessions. It happens, then, that these people recently released from jail or prison fall directly into homelessness. Many of these people do move on and out of homelessness, but only because they get help from agencies dedicated to their cause.
We do know that recidivism is real, and that the majority of all crimes are committed by just a few people. So, there is a very real chance that a criminal, recently released from jail or prison, and living in a shelter, will commit another crime. And, more than likely, they will do so against another homeless person.
The reason is NOT, as this person insinuated, that all homeless people are inclined to commit crimes. The reality is that there is a segment of the homeless population that is stuck in the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Again, homelessness is not of itself a social problem, but is a symptom of other problems. If problems with our criminal justice system were solved, there would be a drop in the homeless population. And in this case, if this particular problem were solved, not only would people getting out of jail or prison no longer become homeless, you would relieve the rest of the homeless population of the hard core criminals, making the quality of life better for them. And in so doing, will make it much easier for the rest of the homeless population to overcome their problems that lead to homelessness.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
-- I attended most of the Quality of Life for Downtown meeting, yesterday. The following is the comment I left this morning at www.nashvillecharrette.com Of course, people started right of with trying to discredit what I was saying. They don't want to hear it. --
I was there for a good portion of the Quality of Life meeting. And I too had to leave so to get into a shelter for the night, And I barely got in. (I digress)
Surely, the idea of having a "quality of life" task force was for the sake of the loft dwellers. As usual, there seems to be a general disregard for the opinions of homeless people. I personally have a problem with the Homeless Power Projects tactics of filling such forums with as many homeless people as possible. Most homeless people have no business being involved in the processes of public policy, because of their social and/or mental deficiencies. They hinder dialog and progress. Still, the interests of the homeless should be properly represented in issues involving downtown, as it is their home.
I really hope that this mole hill doesn't become a mountain, although I'm afraid that is the direction things are going. There really is no reason to fight over downtown, but if push comes to shove, there will be a fight. And I would certain encourage people to take the higher ground here, and let cooler heads prevail. I would also warn the URA to not underestimate the ability of the homeless, and their allies, to wage war on this and other related issues.
But that is not where I would like this conversation to go. There is a lot that needs to be learned, on both sides of the fence - starting with definitions. It was implied in one statement that only loft dwellers were residents of downtown. But actually, homeless people who live downtown are also "residents" of downtown. "Residents" only indicates people who live in a particular place, not the amount of money people spend achieving their residence. And in this great land of ours, where we champion equality, no distinction can be allowed in regards to rights based on income or wealth.
The important thing that can be gleaned from this meeting is that the Quality of Life that the loft dwellers desire, is directly related to inability of homeless people to achieve a quality life. Sure, the homeless were saying things like, "I need this - I need that," but the Loft Dwellers were saying the same thing. Both sides wanted the other side to give, or give up, something. Obviously, a compromise is in order.
The only way for the Quality of Life to improve for the Loft Dwellers, is for the Quality of Life for the homeless, and other street people, to improve. The idea that homeless people can be driven out of downtown is ridiculous (it can't be done) and should be abandoned. I once bought a house, during obviously better times, in the Whispering Hills area. Buying that house did not give me the right to have people removed from that neighborhood, just because I couldn't get along with them. And buying that house did not give me the right to control what happened on the streets, sidewalks or nearby parks. All of that was "public" domain, which the whole public, people I liked and people I didn't like, had equal rights to it. Everyone lives the best Quality of Life they can achieve, but sadly, some people are not very good at achieving much of anything. Most homeless people, especially the chronically homeless, do not have the skill sets necessary to grow beyond their current status. Therefore, someone will have to help those homeless achieve those skills. And since it is mainly the Loft Dwellers who will benefit from this, they should be the ones doing what it takes to make this happen.Still, this is a mole hill - the problems that Loft Dwellers face with homeless people are minimal - I haven't been panhandled by anyone in a long time - especially while walking down church street. It used to happen to me every day. Still, panhandling lasts all of a few seconds in a person's life - to allow the panhandling event to consume one's whole day is a sign of great immaturity.
Anyway, the solution to the problem is simple - raise the quality of life of homeless people and you raise the quality of life for everyone. Teach the homeless the things you know, the skills you use, to make a good life for yourself. Then everyone will benefit.
Monday, February 25, 2008
There are flyers around the library:
LET'S BE THERE IN NUMBERS!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Good morning. I thought I would write and introduce myself. I have been a fan of your blog for many years. Here in Columbus Ohio, I used to work in two different shelters and a supportive housing program for chronically homeless, mentally ill women. I have loved all of those jobs. Currently, I am unemployed and looking for work while going to school at OSU. I have had a terrible time finding work in my field because I never finished my degree.
You did a blog post a while back that had a tremendous impact on me and how I viewed my work. It was "A Day In The Life" and in it, you wrote about the resue mission. When I was hired as Director of Resident Services and Faith Mission here in Columbus, It was much like what you had described. I was fortunate to have an executive director who wanted to change the way the shelter operated and hired me to do it. I have been grateful to you ever since. We got rid of the security staff, created new positions called advocates who were assigned a case load of residents and were charged with the task of being their partners. Each advocate sat down one on one with their residents and co-created a plan for services. The number of residents who left the shelter for permanent housing tripled after that.
Sadly, I was laid off from there and shortly after, my former executive director resigned. The new director has re-instated the security staff and some of my former staff tell me things have gone back to the old ways.
I still believe that I was moving in the right direction. I had a vision of beginning a job training program to hire residents to work in the shelter. I think they would be far more sensitive to others and understanding of the obstacles than anyone else. So what do you think of homeless men and women working in the shelters?
Thank you very much for writing,
Letters like yours help me stay focused, reminding me that there is a bigger picture, and I am only a part of it.
There are people who are born and raised in the South, and they develop a very strong southern accent to the way they talk. But for whatever reason, they move away from the South, and after some time they lose the accent. Then they return home for a visit, and it takes almost no time for them to regain that Southern accent. And, there is a cliche' - "you can take the man out of the projects, but you can't take the projects out of the man." This is all preference to me saying that I think it's not a very good idea to have past homeless people become "case managers" as it were, to the currently homeless. It does sound like a good idea - I know that AA works that way, and perhaps for alcoholism it is effective.
But most people who used to be homeless, are usually living a life still very close to homelessness. Although they now have a home of their own, they are still living in abject poverty, bearly making it, and have many of the traits that make people suseptible to becoming homeless. At the Campus for Human Development, they require that a formerly homeless person be in a non-homeless state for at least 2 years, before returning to work there. Having the formerly homeless person back in the street environment makes them susceptable to becoming homeless again. More importantly - homeless people have to learn a completely new and different way of life (a new paradigm for life and living), and the best way to do that is to expose them, as much as possible, to the new and better way. It's like teaching a new language - total immersion works best. A homeless person with a case manager who continues to talk street, and has street mannerisms only inhibits growth in the new direction. Life on the streets is hard core, it is dog eat dog, (more literal than figurative), and so it requires one to be excessively selfish just to survive. And yes, the non-homeless people are also selfishness, but it is compartmentalized, (and more figurative than literal). The non-homeless person knows that civility is required to a certain degree, so to maintain the social framework in which to live. Most homeless people do not get that, or at least don't exercise it to the point necessary to maintaining an acceptable and functional place for themselves within the society.
What is needed are good and positive examples for the homeless to adapt. They need to be exposed to as much non-homelessness as possible. Som they would benefit most from case managers, security guards, chaplains, etc, who have never experienced homelessness. Also, non-homeless workers, who have been working with the homeless for a few years, will be effected by the homeless environment, and will lose their ability to reflect the non-homeless life on to the homeless. That is why I am so much in favor of term limits for non-homeless people working for homeless service providers.
Well, this email has grown long - I think I'll use it as a post on the blog. May I also use your letter to preface it? I will leave your name out if you so wish.
Again, thanks for writing,
Of course you can use my letter. and my name. I wrote you about that to get your opinion. I needed to know what it would take. I agree that a person needs to be immersed in non-homelessness in order to make it. You raise some very good points that I hadn't considered. I knew you would have a different perspective. I have been trying to figure out what it would take to end homelessness. If we were to return full funding for HUD housing, provide housing opportunites enough that no one would be with out a place to live, what would it take to assist someone to be able to remain in that housing and become stable again?
What kind of services are needed?
Because waiting lists for services are so long, service providers are tempted to tighten the restrictions placed on those receiving services. In many street rehab facilities, if a person relapses just once while in the program, he will be dropped from the program, and might never be allowed to return. That policy denies the reality the the average addict/alchoholic/street person will relapse many times before staying clean, and clear of trouble, long enough to leave homelessness. The goals are too high, the stress is too great. All such programs should impliment a more gradual approach - baby steps must be really small baby steps, and for a longer period than most service providers would expect. I know, budgets being as limited as they are tempts social workers to press their clients to achieve goals faster than they are ready to deal with. The best recourse would be to take on fewer clients at a time. And yes, I understand that organizations must make a good show - produce numbers that the grant givers expect - the grant givers expecations being very eskew of reality. It really is better to take on fewer clients at a time, and have a higher success rate, than to try to take on many clients, hoping that some how all their needs will be met.
For some service providers, if they had one hundred dollars, and one hundred clients, they would give each client one dollar. But it seems better to determine which clients would actually make good use of it, and select 10 clients to receive 10 dollars each. This applies to all services offered. It's the process of separating the wheat from the chaff.
Taking on 10 clients and putting all your energy into them, and having a percentage of them achieve success, is better than taking on 20 clients, and being able to only give half as much energy to them. More than likely you'll end up with fewer successes, not just in percentages.
In the Hud Housing First program, promoted by the ich.gov, the 10% worst case homeless clients are said to consume the lion's share of services and resources available to all homeless people. So, they are instructing cities to develop Housing First programs to house those people. This would free up more services, for service providers to provide, for the rest of the homeless.
Sure, if we could get cities to do this, it would be great. But there is an obvious objection to it within city governments and the general population, and cities have been slow, if not dead in the water, concerning this development.
Personally, I think they should be applying this program from the opposite direction. They should be providing housing first options to the easiest to solve homeless cases first - not the worst. Single, unattached men are about 85% of the homeless population. It would take the least amount of services to rehabilitate their lives. So, focusing attention on that population of the homeless would drastically reduce the total number of homeless, in the shortest amount of time, and would free up as many resources for service providers, if not more, to be focused on the more difficult cases. Of course this is the opposite of the current paradigms, where women and their children come first - and single men come last - this really means that single men rarely if ever get the services they need. I imagine that if you rehabbed all the homeless men, you'd find the homeless women w/children population dropping, even without services directed at them, as these formerly homeless men will begin taking back the responsiblities of family.
Ok, well that took 40 minutes to write, so I'll stop for now - I really appreciate your questions.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
From time to time people ask me what they can do to help. They ask me if there is anything I need, or could use. In reply to these types of inquires, I put a "donation" button on my blog. It connects people to my Paypal account that I created for this very reason.
Some people take issue with me doing this. To these people, because I am homeless, I have no right to do this, as other bloggers do. Many other websites, and blogs, have donation buttons. Yet I can't imagine anyone telling the owners of those websites, that they shouldn't ask for donations. Evidently, I'm not worthy.
Well, there's not much I can do about that. Some people will find anything to complain about. And everyone, and everything, has its critics. It is very telling, though, the state of mind of some people, their lack of compassion, lack of generosity, lack of forgiveness. There are some ugly people in this world.
As always, I use the donations that come my way, to help alleviate the pain and other difficulties of being homeless. Donations allow me to buy new shoes when my old ones wear out. They allow me to have coffee at some coffee shop, so that I can get out the cold in the early morning hours, or to have a place to go to, like a 24hr coffee shop, when I can't get into a shelter. They allow me to buy food that is more nutritious than normally received at the rescue mission. And I do share donations with other homeless people, so that they too can have some relief. One homeless friend of mine writes letters to his family, cause he doesn't like computers, and so, when I can, I buy him envelopes and stamps. Another homeless buys me coffee when I can't afford any, and so I return the favor, when I have money from donations. etc., etc.
Just how much money does a person spend on magazines and newspapers and books, for information and entertainment? Here you can read all you want for free. I just ask that, if my writing here has benefited you in any way, that you consider returning the benefit in some way. If you'd rather not send a donation through Paypal, you could still send something by regular mail. The address is in my profile.
Certainly, I would not have been able to survive this life as well as I have, if it was not for the very kind people who have helped me along the way. To them all I am very grateful.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Here is a list of articles, from print and online, about this blog:
On Tuesday morning, I drew a double plus ticket from Room In The Inn, which was good for a bed Thursday night. That meant I would have two nights without a place to go, except the rescue mission. And if you are any regular reader of this blog, you know that the mission is to be avoided at nearly all costs.
I was going to be up all night on Wednesday night, for the Homelessness Radio Marathon. So that left me with finding something for Tuesday night. Also, if I was to pull off another all-nighter, I was going to need some serious rest. And if at all possible, I would need to sleep in some.
So, I emailed some friends, the couple who let me stay at their house on my birthday, and asked for a big favor. And they didn't hesitate. They said I could stay at their house for the night.
Despite the comfortableness of their house, and that bedroom and bed, I slept too hard. My apnea was in high gear, and I woke up several times during the night. And in the morning, I had a headache. Still, I stayed in bed until about 6:30 am. and then went back to sleep for a while, and then just laid in bed for some time. I took some aprin. Still, the headache stayed with me most of the day, and drained a good bit of my energy.
I observed the Marathon, and though I wanted to speak, either there were others talking, or I didn't have the nerve. To see the speakers at the microphone, you had to be outside with them. But being outside with the speakers meant you couldn't hear the conversation. So you had to go inside to keep up with what was being talked about. Inside was also much warmer. I never did talk on the show. But that's ok. At one point or another, everthing I would have said, someone else said it instead.
In the morning, towards the end of the broadcast, things got real crazy, as the people who had been sent out to churches the night before were returning to the campus and disrupting the radio show. So, I took off early and went on up to Starbucks at the hotel, and stayed their until the library opened. Instead of my regular caffeine loaded drink, I got a hot chocolate instead. And that was the ruin of me last night.
During the day, yesterday, I stayed mostly at the library. I kept falling asleep in my chair, and a couple times security came by to check on me. There is always the threat that the security people would toss me out of the library for sleeping. Luckily I wasn't. For the last few hours, I sat at a table with a friend. And although twice he told me it was time to go back to Room In The Inn, I instead fell asleep with my head on the table. Luckily, I came to, just enough to recognize that I had just enough time to get down to the campus and get into the shelter. Once in the shelter, my headache started coming back.
I was sent out to a nice church - Christ UMC in Franklin. Dinner was great, and served up by the church youth group, but my tiredness and my headache prevented me from enjoying it much.
Going without sleep for a night now takes me at least two days to recover from. And it also causes my sleep apnea to be worse than usual. So, I was expecting to have a bad night anyway. And as the night progressed, I noticed that I was having a caffeine deprevation headache. Cause I had that hot chocolate in the morning, instead of my usual coffee. So, I was having two types of headache at the same time. One from my apnea, and one from the lack of caffeine. On top of all that, I could not find my bottle of asprin. It must have fallen out of my jacket at some point.
And so it was that I got very little sleep again last night. I guess he could see it on my face, but one the homeless mexicans with the group asked if I was alright - it was very broken English, and mostly gestures. We communicated well enough that he shared with me some Ibuprophen he had - 400mg tablets. He gave me three and told me to take them all at once. I took one.
Right now I'm feeling fine, and have the two other tablets if need be. This morning I drew a ticket for Room In The Inn that I think will get me in, tonight. With some more sleep, I should be feeling more like myself tomorrow.
I am currently at Starbucks in the hotel, and drinking coffee - writing this blog - and waiting for the library to open.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Oh man, I swore I'd never stay up all night again, even if it meant going to the mission. But I did stay up all night for the Homelessness Radio Marathon. Did any of you hear it? I hope it was alright. I'm wiped out. I need a vacation. Anyone want to help me out with that? Send me to Disney World? Send me a couple bucks? You can send thing via paypal. If you have an account, you can send money to do me at my email address of thehomelessguy (at) gmail (dot) com.
I'll get you back.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I am passing this info on as a courtesy to the National Coalition for The Homeless
By Steve Kugler
In Flagstaff, the homeless person is thought to be someone who discharges waste on private property. This generalized fallacy was validated at the two Flagstaff Shelter Services meetings held at Mike & Ronda's Restaurant and the fire station in Old Town section of Flagstaff. The NIMBYs, Not In My Back Yard, neighbors were quite vocal and graphic about this stereotype, myth.
Currently Housing for Urban Development mandates that cities count only their SMIs, the high profile Seriously Mentally Ill, drunks and substance users that Flagstaff citizens see hanging out of the SouthSide and around the bus station.
Until last May when Senator Julia Carson IN (D) died there was a legislative effort to get the HEARTH Act to become federal law. It would require that HUD have cities count their other homeless populations such as homeless school age children and college students as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act.
The nearby Coconino County Community College's Passages Coordinator, Sherrill Dana, said, "25 out of 500 students were anecdotal homeless." One fifth of C.C.C.'s total population of 3,883 is 194.
NAU in 2004, had 400 homeless students, but attribution is off record for she is now the source is now N.A.U. faculty.
City Hall and the Flagstaff Unified School District’s rumors are placing N.A.U.'s homeless students at 800. When Director Molly Munger of President-Administration and Assistant Director of Public Affairs Tom Bauer were contacted by phone, their response was that NAU does not have any homeless students.
Director Mike Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless and I are looking for a young, homeless college student that would be willing to go on national news.
Director Mike Stoops
1-800-635-0861 extension 19
Leave a message at Flagstaff Shelter Services for Steve
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11th Annual Homelessness Radio Marathon
A project of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (economichumanrights.org)
I am writing to tell you about our upcoming broadcast, the 11th Annual Homelessness Marathon. This is the one national broadcast intended to raise consciousness about the homelessness and poverty that is all around us. I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone on this list that Cheri Honkala and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union helped get this broadcast off the ground, and it has grown ever since. This year, we will be on more than 100 radio stations across the country, and the first three hours of our 14-hour broadcast will be carried on Free Speech Television, channel 9415 on the Dish network.
We originate from the streets of a different city every year, and this year we will be originating from Nashville. The broadcast will start at 7 p.m., Eastern Time, on Wednesday, February 20th, and it will end at 9 a.m. the following morning. We will be covering many topics, talking with many experts, taking calls from around the country and, above all, putting homeless people on the air directly. This is the only chance most Americans ever have to hear who they are and learn about the obstacles they face.
I am writing to you about this because I would value your participation. There will be two call-in numbers for the show. Anyone, housed or homeless, can call 877-NOBODY-8 (877-662-6398). There's an extra line to give an extra chance to people who are homeless, formerly homeless or afraid they're about to be homeless. That number is 866-LEFT-OUT (866-533-8688). Like any call-in show, our lines sometimes get jammed, especially in the early hours of the broadcast. But as the night progresses, it gets easier and easier to get through.
A live audio and video webcast of the Homelessness Marathon along with a list of our over-the-air affiliates will be posted on our web site at http://www.homelessnessmarathon.org. More information about the broadcast is also posted there.
I'd like to think that one virtue of the Homelessness Marathon is that it provides activists a rare opportunity to accomplish a lot by doing a little. I am hoping that you will help spread the word about our broadcast, listen in and call in if you've got something you want to say. That may not sound like much, but there is one truth only our listeners can tell, and it is a powerful truth about America.
What I've learned over the years is that it's not just poverty that is everywhere in this country. I've learned that our nation is also full of people with passion for a more just society; no matter how little their heartfelt desires are reflected in the political process. So I am hoping you will do what you can to participate in the broadcast and show the politicians what America is really made of.
Jeremy Weir Alderson
Director, Homelessness Marathon
Sure, I'm the "expert" on the subject of panhandling. But what about you? What have you experienced? What are your thoughts on it? Please voice your ideas in the comment section - and be sure to fill out the survey in the right hand column. Thanks.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The comment sections have been enabled for this blog. They will stay on as long as I can tolerate them. Maybe a day or two, haha!
I am currently in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, which is attached to the Nashville Convention Center, which is directly across the street from the Ryman Auditorium, the traditional home of the Grand Ol' Opry, and country music.
This lobby looks like a greenroom backstage, with every one dressed to the nines, about to "go on" and put on a show. It's not just the "stars" - the lead singers, mostly women, I imagine by the way they are dressed, and highly attractive and sexually provocative - but their bands are with them too, all in traditional, if not cliche'd apparel - country hair, country mustache, country boots - all looks we've seen before on the T.V. It's not your average 7am look. They could all pass for the real deal. Well, except for one guy in a white pinstriped suit and "tiny tim" hairdo. There's always one weirdo in the bunch.
They are all lined up, now, and signing in at a desk not 30 feet from where I write this. I asked one security guard what was going on, if it was an "american idol" type event. He said he didn't know. Whoops, there's one stage-mom, helping her daughter sign in. It's so funny how people tend to stereo-type themselves, and so willingly. Proper attire is a must. Everyone is having to open their jackets to show the guy at the sign in table. I wonder what would happen if I walked over there. Naw, I better not.
Oh, there's one white guy with some serious dreads - lets she how that goes - they are half way down his back. He did pass an envelope over the table, a phone call is made - he's in. Oh, here it is, Can You Duet?" Clever. A CMT competition. Good luck.
All the libraries are closed today - not a good thing for the homeless. Yesterday's balmy weather and high temps in the 70's will be tempered today with highs in the 40's.
My back still hurts and I have limited mobility. I can't stand completely straight up, and even walking hurts. At least after a while of walking, things loosen up and I can walk better. But, after sleeping on a small mat on the floor, it takes a while to get moving. Of course, all the responsibilties of straightening up my sleeping area don't go away. Pick up the mat I slept on and pillow and carry them and stack them in the closets, return blanket and sheets to the pile to be carried back to the center, or prepared for washing. I feel like I need to spend a couple days in a hard bed, flat on my back. I did take 4 asprin about a half hour ago. I hope they help.
With the library closed, I hope to do some cafe hopping. I hope they let me hang out on their computers for most of the day. That shouldn't be a problem if business is moderately slow. Now to just find a good position in this seat, so that my back won't hurt.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Finally, been getting caught up on some rest. Still not as much as I need, but I'm more rested than I've been in a long while. It comes mostly from the people at the churches trying to make an uncomfortable situation as comforatable as possible. You know how it is when you sleep in a strange place or strange bed, it's hard to fall asleep. Well, just imagine having to find sleep in a different place every single night.
Aldersgate UMC, a couple nights ago, was exceptionally good. They only participate in Room In The Inn once a month so to make it the best they can, so an Inn Keeper told me. They are one of those churches that does the hospitality thing so well that you don't even mind that they don't have things like showers, or laundry. That all changed because they now have those things as well. They have gone from being a good Room In The Inn church to one of the best in the whole system.
When I was there I was able to have a nice conversation with lady 85 years young. I say young because she definitely seemed much younger than her age. Her life story, of which I only got a glimpse, was amazing. She served as a WAC during WWII, and was sent to some of the harshest environments, doing the work of three Army sargents who had been sent into combat, while only being paid as a buck private. That was the point of the WACs, to free up abled bodied men for combat duty. Since the war, she's been working with Vets and the VA, making sure that our service men get the care they deserve.
The following night, I was sent out to Hillcrest UMC (another of the better RITI churches) where I had yet another interesting conversation with a young lady, this one all of 12 years old. Few 18 year olds have as much maturity. She could still act her age, when with other kids from the church, but was able to converse well, express complex ideas with confidence, and apply a good sense of logic. She has a tremendous future ahead of her.
Meeting people such as these is the best part of Room In The Inn for me. it reminds me of what's possible, and that there is a world outside of the alleys and shelters of Nashville.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
This morning, while getting ready for the day, I wrenched my back all out of shape. It's been years since I've done that. I used to do it with some frequency. And thought I was done with it. I wonder how much of my back pain is psychological. I've been under more stress than usual lately - when people are expecting things of me that I'm not sure I can deliver on, or if I even want to deliver on.
And so, I haven't been able to focus on writing anything lately - homeless, or otherwise. Don't forget, though, that the homelessness radio marathon is coming soon. When I find out who will broadcast it, I'll let you know. I imagine it will be something like radio free nashville.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I don't know why all of my archives don't show up on this here blog, but you can find them, and read them, at archive.org My particular archives are held at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com
This post was prompted by the article (What Would Jesus Say?) in the Nashville Scene.
So, I just don't get it. A man who dedicates himself to God and all Godly principles - love, compassion, restoration of lives, etc. - gets a hard-on for little girls and boys.
Regardless of our lack of understanding the why, or how of it, it does happen, and we have to start admitting it - to ourselves and to everyone else.
I learned sometime back that the minister who married my now exwife, and I, was sometime later defrocked for having sexual relations with underage members of his congregations.
I learned this little factoid from a friend who was a member of the clergy of a main-line protestant congregation. One of his duties was to sit on a board which met monthly for the sole purpose of dealing with their minister's indiscretions. Believe me, I was appalled to learn that these things happened with such regularity that the denomination had to keep staff dedicated to the problem.
Let’s get one thing straight. These acts are ILLEGAL, and anyone who knows of such acts, and does not report the perpetrators to the police, is guilty of crimes related to harboring, aiding and abetting criminals.
Personally, I would hope that the Federal Government would get involved and investigate every single Christian denomination, and prosecute everyone involved.
The greatest sin in this mess is that of trying to protect the "church" from scandal by not reporting these people to the police.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Man, ya just gotta do it. Maybe especially when you really don't feel like it. People did you wrong - you think bad thoughts about them - you hope bad things for them - you never want to look at them again, let alone talk to them.
Go ahead, do it anyway. Look at them, say hello. It breaks the ice. Eventually the thaw will come, and you'll forgive them. More than likely, they'll forgive you, for once not forgiving them.
The people now running the homeless newspaper here in Nashville pissed me off to no end. Really, I don't think I've been so betrayed by people - since the betrayal of my exwife and our subsequent divorce. They purposely tried to subvert me. They are certainly conducting the editorship of the paper in a way that I would not allow, if I were editor - as I once was editor. Still, for what they are doing, the paper is good, better than most homeless newspapers I've seen. I know they are having trouble getting the paper off the ground, as it were. If they were to ask me to come back to the paper, so to save it from its inevitable demise, I would. They would have to apologize to me first, and then I would apologize for saying "F...You".
They may never ask me to come back to a leadership roll in the paper. That's ok. As a Christian of the kind I believe is real, I must forgive these people. I'm working on it. Some of them do attend the same church that I do. There is a point in the service where we are to "pass the Peace of Jesus" to one another. I am compelled by my faith to "pass the Peace" to them as well as everyone else. Jesus wants us, not long to get along, but to live as one in Him.
Slowly but surely, I am communicating with the others. Right now, it's not much more than, "please pass the salt," but it is something.
Lend me your tubes. I keep falling farther back on search engines. Please help me out with a link to my blog on your blog/website. For this favor, I will reciprocate. cheers.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
If you haven't figured it out, and yes, some of you have. I am no longer employed. The job was physically taxing, added to that, that sometimes I could not get a bed in a shelter every night, the mix was too much. I was wiped out. I started getting pains in my arm as my already high blood pressure was rising, And then I caught a cold. So, I let the job go. I've already received emails from an individual who has been lambasting me with hate, calling me a failure, etc. It's almost as though some people actually take pleasure in it.
There were other issues as well, with my employer and his reluctance to pay me. He still owes me $75. I talked to a couple friends who happen to be lawyers - one is a human resources lawyer for a fortune 100 company, and the other is a lawyer for the Federal Gov in the labor department. They both advised me, telling that I acted properly and that I should have been paid. But $75 just isn't worth going after. I'm chocking it up to experience. I've had a lot of such experience.
Eventually I will find a job, more in my area of experience, and less physically demanding, while I'm still at the mercy of the homeless industry.
Out of all this, I have found a renewed interest in writing and posting on this blog. Here, much of my energy will be invested.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Man, homeless people can be noisy. Alone, they may or may not make a peep. But put two or more together, and watch out!
Seriously, there is a high percentage of people in the homeless community who don't know how to behave around others - whether it's in public, or in the confines of a shelter.
Most homeless people lack some serious social etiquette. Which is one of the reasons I have few homeless friends.
The, I-don't-give-a-damn attitude of many homeless people is complex - and one of the core issues a homeless person must overcome in his personality, before he can return to a "normal" life.
The homeless person may very well have brought it with him when he became homeless. Or, he could have developed it while being homeless. Mostly, though, I think it's a combination of events. Most homeless people have some kind of chip on their shoulder - homeless people's "pre homeless life" usually isn't very good. And so the attitude is exaserbated by becoming homeless, and again from events that happen while homeless.
Because becoming homeless is so undesirable, most people exhaust all their resources trying to prevent homelessness from happening. Bridges are not so much "burned" as they are consumed. Every last buck, every last favor, is used up - all to prevent homelessness. And yet homelessness happens anyway, and so the friends, and family, and whomever, feel like they've wasted their rescources on the particular individual.
That leaves us with a homeless individual with many personal losses, guilty and regretful and angry. They no longer like themselves, no one likes them, either. In spitefulness, they turn on others - rejecting others for rejecting them, or trying to reject others before being rejected. Not only do they no longer care about others, they must make a point of showing that they don't care for others. And they must proven that they are taking it to the ultimate extreme. Nothing pisses off an unhappy person more than another person trying to find some source of happiness in them. They want their facade to state to the world "unhappy." Trying to change another person's facade statement is an unwelcome intrusion.
To make this statement plain, the homeless person will commit any and all acts of unsocial behavior. The worse the behavior, the more intent the individual is trying to display his unhappiness.
Worst of all is the behavior of one homeless person upon another. It becomes like a pissing match. One always having to do the other. The result is a very unpleasant environment for the homeless, among other homeless, and most especially in homeless shelters. Arguments are always breaking out. Fist fights happen occassionally. But mostly, the better behaved homeless treat the bad behavior of other homeless like water on a ducks back. You just let it happen and go on with whatever you're doing, yet hoping, without much success for it to end - and for that moment of peaceful relief.
Making noise is one of the easiest ways for homeless people to display their contempt. And this really comes out best when it's time for people to go to sleep, or attempt to go to sleep, in shelters. Instead of homeless people quieting down as they enter the dorms of the rescue mission, conversations begin, or take on new and enhanced energy. And pronouncement of "hey we're trying to sleep here," is met with the common come-back, well go get your own apartment then. And the talking gets worse for spite of the original comment.
There are other things happening too. Cell phones are owned by several homeless people, and they use them all the time. And watches have alarms on them, and they go off indiscriminately, cause most homeless people don't know how to set them correctly. So, for at least a couple hours after entering the mission dorms, a person doesn't have much chance of falling asleep.
Morning is even worse, as well set alarms do go off. Wake up is officially at 5am at the mission, but sleeping until then is near impossible. You'd have to have gone without sleep the night before, (cause you couldn't get into a shelter) to sleep that heavily. The program men come into the dorms before the light come on to wake up some individuals who asked for early wake up. And they usually wake up most people around them too. And some program men, who assigned to clean up the dorms after everyone has left, actually begin their clean up before the lights come on. And, the program men bring in pallets on pallet jacks for the piles of blankets, between 4 and 4:30. The pallet jack itself makes a tremendous noise, and then the pallets are also dragged along the ground, making a loud grinding noise. By 4:30am you can usually hear the sound of a dustpan dragging the ground around the bunks. And of those people who got up early, they will make plenty of noise, even yelling, out in the hall, as they make their way to the dayroom. Sometimes, someone will think it's funny to yelling throw the dorm doors "GET UP YOU TRAMPS, GET YOUR FEET ON THE FLOOR." or, something to that effect, also before anyone actually has to get up. And yet there is just the general milling about that happens which also wakes people up before time. (to possibly be continued...)
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Christianity generally, and the Bible specifically, are subjects in need of exploring because a great many people respond to homelessness through them. Can there be a more easily manipulated person, to a confession of faith, than one suffering the burdens of homelessness? Some Christians will declare that during such difficult times, Christianity is in most need. Yet others will declare that people become homeless through Divine intervention - a ruse by God to get wayward people’s attention. I can’t tell you how many times a chaplain at the rescue mission chapel service declared to the coerced attendants, “It is no accident that you are here tonight.” Sadly, the rescue mission staff does not allow dissenting views to be expressed, on this subject, or any other.
Most people who feel compelled to bring Christianity to the homeless will declare the inerrancy of the Bible. The justification goes thusly - if the Bible is perfect, and they are preaching “from” the Bible, then the words they speak as they preach are also perfect, to be considered dutifully, without question. Such proclamations made so often at the begin of chapel services at the mission has caused many, including myself, to automatically turn off my attention, and dismiss whatever the chaplain is saying. On the other hand, if the chaplain starts out on the right foot, with humility and practicality, I’ve give him a listen. (and in this instance I use the pronoun “him” because women are not allowed to preach at the mission. Although the rescue mission claims that it is non-denominational, only fundamentalist views are allowed to be expressed at the mission.)
The Bible is not perfect, and there is plenty of reasonable proof of its imperfection. But, really, does the Bible have to be perfect? I don’t think so. God is still God, with, or without it. For some, though, their faith is founded on the Bible. In their twisted logic God can be proven to not exist, if the Bible can be found to be lacking. What a terrible state they put themselves in. Instead of having a relationship with God, they have a relationship with the Bible. And instead of developing a life in relationship with God, they spend all their time trying to defend the Bible, defend their faith, defend “Christianity,” etc., etc. But, God needs no defenders. God is perfectly capable of defending himself, and desires for us to instead spend our lives doing His will. A real Christian is not one who makes signs to the world that they are Christian, but is one who feeds the hungry, shelter the cold, provides for the needy, etc. A person who spends all their time trying to convert the already converted, and ignores or neglects their needs, is nursing a dead faith.
I often wonder where the body of Christ would be if we didn’t have the Bible, if the words of 2000 years ago were never put into print. I imagine that us “Christians” would be more alive in Christ, having a more dynamic relationship with God, because they are not confining their lives to the stories and few teachings found within the Bible. When witnessing to non-believers they wouldn’t turn to the Bible, as they do today as a crutch, but would instead relay their own real and personal experiences with the almighty. Churches and their doctrine would appeal more to the contemporary needs of people.
But today there is almost no accurate relating of God to people and their needs. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story of the prodigal son at chapel services at the rescue mission. But let me tell you, folks, the story of the prodigal son is not a story about homelessness. There are no, sons-of-wealthy-land-owners, hanging out at the rescue mission after squandering their inheritance. That story doesn’t apply to us homeless. Please stop trying to make that square story fit into our round lives.