Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Don Worrell, director of the Nashville Rescue Mission makes it clear, although unknowingly, what the problem is, why we can't ever seem to find a solution to homelessness in Nashville.
Nashville Public Radio did a piece recently on Housing First. http://wpln.org/
Housing First is the HUD developed and sponsored program that gets people out of homelessness better, and faster and more successfully than anything tried previously. Housing First turns the tables on traditional thinking about ending homelessness. Instead of waiting until a homeless person fixes all the problems of his life before allowing him into a home, Housing First gets homeless people into small apartments immediately. The great and obvious benefit is that by having a place off the streets in which to live, the homeless person can better address the problems of his life. It's nearly impossible to take care of all the issues a homeless person has, while they are still on the streets. But, this is how the director of the "rescue" mission here puts it:
"I don’t believe housing is a right. I believe housing is a privilege."
That's great, Don is entitled to his opinion, except for one small thing. Homelessness is NOT an issue of rights and privileges, it is an issue of people suffering. And the industry set up to help the homeless should address, and work towards alleviating, that suffering. The homelessness industry should help people who are on the streets to achieve some normalcy in life. There is nothing "normal" about life at a rescue mission. By adopting a philosophy that even the most nominal housing is a "privilege," they are needlessly prolonging homeless people's suffering. It is implied in the policies of the rescue mission, that they would rather a person stay homeless and attending their mandatory religious services, than to find a way off the streets without converting to Christianity.
Having lived homeless and at the rescue mission for many years, and knowing Don personally for nearly as long, I can attest to the fact that the rescue mission isn't focused on ending homelessness, but on making religious converts. Policies at the rescue mission dictate that any rehab program that does not focus on Christianity as the cure-all for people's problems, should be discouraged if not completely disallowed.
People's response to homeless people should not be based on a judgement of "priviledge," but on finding cures to what ails homeless people. Truly, for the leader of a supposed "Christian" organization to pass so much judgement on others is perplexing. Yes, the rescue mission has a "program" for helping people. It consists primarily of religious indoctrination. Of the 1000 people the mission beds each night, and of perhaps 6 or 7 thousand different souls who seek out help from that rescue mission during any given year, only a very small fraction of those people actually attend and complete the mission's rehab program. It should also be noted that the majority of those people who attend that rehab program fall back into homelessness in a very short time. After allowing rescue missions to shelter and preach to the homeless for all these years, people should be expecting rescue missions to do more than be a place to store the homeless during the night. Rescue missions should be held accountable to the cities for which they say they serve.
Don Worrell has a lot of influence in Nashville, politically and otherwise. I'm certain that much of the reason why Housing First has not caught on in Nashville is because he has poo-pooed on it.
Rescue missions have been around for many many decades, and they have been proven effective at getting people food and a bed for the night, but they have failed miserably at actually ending homelessness. It's time to try some new and proven techniques. Housing First is one.
Lastly, Don Worrell was quoted in the article as saying: "I have a problem when I’m subsidizing your addiction, when I’m subsidizing your alcoholism."
Know this, most rescue missions in the country have a strict policy against allowing intoxicated people into their shelters. But, the Nashville Rescue Mission has no restrictions against intoxicated people staying at the facility. Also, most rescue missions have a time limit on how long a person can stay. Limits usually run from around 6 months to as little as 3 days. At the Nashville Rescue Mission there is no time limit. Some homeless people have been living there for 20 to 30 years. I would say that these policies are in essence "subsidizing addictions and alcoholism." If any thing was truly "enabling" homelessness, it would be the Nashville Rescue Mission.
Another WPLN article about Housing First at Housing First
Friday, October 15, 2010
Having lived all my life with Aspergers Syndrome, yet not knowing what it was, or that I had it, and yet having to figure out some way to deal with it and the world in general, I had developed several survival techniques, mind games really, lies I told myself, to make the life I was living palatable, possible. But now with the revelation that I have Aspergers, all my thoughts and actions have real and accurate definitions and descriptions. So these mind games and other lies I told myself no longer work. The world is raw to me. And I feel all the anxieties and fears and frustrations anew, without any shield to protect me from them.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Stories are hitting the news circuit these days about school bullying. Most of those stories are focused on the bullying of gays, but we all know that bullying happens to everyone, but especially to anyone who appears different.
There is a discussion group dedicated to people with Aspergers. People with Aspergers get bullied a lot, more often than other kids do. On the discussion board people are currently sharing their stories about being bullied. This is my contribution to that discussion.
When I was about 20 years old I told the secretary of the church I attended something to the effect that I though the first years of life was a waste. I was really only reflecting on my own childhood, I was hoping everyone else was as miserable. I received my share of bullying, but moreover I was constantly teased, degraded, emotionally abused. When it dawned on me that I was getting worse treatment from the other kids than was usually dished out, I asked one of them why. I can still hear his reply as if it was just now spoken. He said, "Because you're stupid." The few times I mentioned the abuse I received at school to my mother, her only replay was, "if you can't get along with the other kids, then just stay away from them." I feel as though I suffered a double whammy in that my parents did not know how to be good parents. They had some severe issues of their own which only made mine worse.
The kids in elementary school knew that they could get away with doing just about anything to me, even the smaller kids took jabs. I do remember once incident that changed things. It was the last day of sixth grade. The next year we would be in a whole new school, Junior High. One of the smaller kids decided to practice his boxing skills, so he danced around me taking pot shots. He wasn't landing them, but was more just being the constant irritant he'd always been, like all the other kids had been. I don't know what inspired me, but I finally had enough. I caught his last swing. My hand was tightly rapped around his fist. Rage built up in side me. I'm sure I turned red with anger, my whole body tensed up. The look on his face was priceless. It was the first time I'd ever made a move to defend myself. Slowly, with teeth clinched, I said, "leave me the fuck alone." I let go of his hand and he ran off.
When we got to Junior High, the overt teasing and taunting stopped, it still happened from time to time, but other issues came on. I started becoming depressed. School work was becoming much more difficult. I started have thoughts of suicide. I never achieved good grades in school, but in junior high something new came to light. There was a state proficiency test everyone in the school had to take. When the results came in i was called to my counselors office. He wanted to know what my problem was. Although my grades were so bad, on the proficiency test I had scored in the top ten percent of the state. I shrugged my shoulders at him, I didn't know what to say. Then he said, I think I do know what your problem is. At that i started feeling relief. This guy obviously understood me, and was going to help me get better. Or so I thought. He then said my problem was a basic one, one that could be defined with just one four letter word. Then he took out a piece of paper and a pencil and began to write. We were on opposite sides of his desk so he spelled it so that the letters appeared upright to me, upside down to him. And slowly he spelled out, L - A - Z - Y. My heart sank. He didn't understand a thing. Then he told me to put that piece of paper in my pocket and think on it some. Life went on. I continued to barely pass my classes. I became more and more a social outcast, and more and more depressed.
I got in some trouble at my first high school and was expelled, the details are not important. I was sent to another school to finish out my education.. There, the people did not know me so intimately, didn't know they could get away with tormenting me, so all that pretty much stopped. But I was still unable to socialize and so I was even lonelier. I know it's weird, but when you're being picked on at least people are recognizing your existence. This school was located on the edge of a poorer neighborhood known for criminal behavior. As long as students did not cause trouble, they were given passing grades, regardless of actually learning anything. I quickly figured this out and coasted the rest of the way through academics. In 12th grade I got my first car, and I was befriended by the Stoners, since I could drive them to the liquor store and the drug dealers house. Smoking pot and drinking beer became the rule of the day. At least with this group, people were accepting me into a group, a group of mostly outcasts. Although for the most part I was only allowed into the fringe of this group, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. When graduation came, I was actually 2 credits short. But they let me graduate anyway. They had to keep shuffling kids through the system. When I was done with school, those few relationships I had quickly dissipated.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Here is an interesting post. A list of the 50 top blogs concerning homelessness. Although they are listed in no particular order, I feel honored to be number one on the list.
Last week I found a computer printer stand next to the dumpster just outside my place. I imagine the nearby doctor's office upgraded. So I rolled it into my place. After a couple adjustments to it, I found myself the owner of a great little stand on which to set my laptop when working on it at home. So here I sit, on a chair, in front of my laptop, on it's stand. I have headphones on too, blaring Tenacious-D through Pandora.com.
Yesterday, I closed my Facebook account. Earlier this evening I closed my Twitter account. A couple days ago I retired from Second Life. I didn't delete that account, but I have removed myself from all the groups and friend's lists I belonged to there. I would have completely removed myself from it, but there is one aspect to it that I recently discovered and which I want to explore. There are certain settings that can be made to the sky and water settings that turn the environment into an art canvas. Since I still don't have a camera necessary for creating fine art photography (my one creative outlet), I will use Second Life as an app for digital imaging. Hopefully I'll be able to make something from it worth hanging in a gallery. Here, let me show you a few images I've made recently. Then I'm going to bed. It's way past my bedtime.