OUR Social System/Agencies = FAILURE
A Stereo-typical Bench for the Homeless: All Too True
The US Department of housing and urban Development has some interesting statistics:
1) Homeless children in the US has risen from 1 in 50 children (1.5 million!)(Year nor available) to 1 in 30 children (2.5 million) in 2013 (that is the shocking statistic).
2) As of 2013, there were 62, 619 homeless veterans - totally inexcusable-Recently in 2015- The Governor of Virginia ( Democratic of course) has eradicated homeless Vets to 0 in the state of Virginia!!
3) In 2000 there were estimated 2.3 million to 3.5 million homeless people in the US but with the economic meltdown since then, it has risen considerably. Stats depend on the criteria looked at - whether it is looking at people including those homeless for just a few days to those who are chronically homeless. Whatever numbers are used and looked at, it is pretty shocking.
A Goodwill in Pittsburgh
Dollars into our social network
what do you think are the dollars estimated poured into our social system?
Homeless people are often target of police brutality
Salvation Army Center in GA
The Mythical Society Improver Goodwill, Should Focus on the Realities of the Failing System- Not on Magical, Ridiculous Numbers,
Helping Others Should Mean Improving Lives, Not Maintaining Status Quo
For the past week, I have had no passion to write, so far down had the dismal failure of our social system dragged me down, spiritually and mentally. I have had no passion to write because of all the failures in my attempts to jumpstart my life. I like so many others am not looking for people to hand me a job but I am looking for people to help me find interviews so I can sell myself and therefore move forward and upward. Yesterday was the absolute worst day as a homeless person and the "bar" for that should not have been easily attained. I will now use those volatile emotions to provide the passion and focus needed to tackle an important topic = the inadequacies and failure of our social system - net(?)- net of failure.
Call our social system whatever you want: an offshoot of Obama care, liberalism, Jesus care or Satan care. I can only write about my perspective of our social "net" as some political pundits call it. If it is a net, the holes in it are too large and frequent to catch anybody or anything.
As I wrote about before, I have a high IQ but still find the system difficult to navigate and full of dead ends. I can hardly imagine what it is like for people to navigate our social system who have a mental handicap or are into deep despair which unfortunately is a huge percentage. It is a system that instead of restructuring and improving lives, causes many to actually go several steps back or just give up - hence all the people one finds sleeping on park benches and sidewalks. I am not saying that there are not success stories but many of them are due to accidental positive outcomes, luck or on occasion a social worker who has not grown frustrated with the system and has learned to manipulate it to have a positive outcome. I realize my view or opinion is based on my experience but my observation and analytical expertise is quite excellent. Of the 100+ agencies I have tried to deal with in two months, NOT ONE, has had any appreciable positive effect on my life and I hear this over and over from other people in the same boat as I. I often feel that I am now in "quicksand". Things like food stamps (Band-Aids) only make the journey being pulled down further at least feeling satiated (Not hungry)! I do not want the agencies to just hand me things like jobs but merely a "rope" to pull myself out. I will say it again and I have said it a million times - "I don't expect a job handed to me, help me get an interview and I can "sell" myself. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is not being defeated but it feels worse, in so many ways.
I will start with the first social group I have had to work with, ISS (Integrated Social Services). Extremely nice people but frustrated with the system themselves. As I wrote before, they are wonderful with supplying the "band aids" to maintain living at this level which to me has become a miserable type of existence as I know what I am capable of doing. It seems I only get things to move forward when my frustrations and depression get the best of me and I have a mental "meltdown" resulting in anger. It should not be that way as I find temper tantrums distasteful for me and I am sure the person(s) I am aiming at. Well, as I have always said, one of my favorite sayings is "Beware the anger of the dove." as I am living proof of that.
Getting food assistance, called EBT or SNAP went pretty well and fast. Of course not having employment and therefore no money to buy food, it helped... helped a great deal.. and I am grateful but feel humiliated that my life has disintegrated this much. There are of course people or businesses that I have been made aware of who will "buy" your food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar. Highly illegal but they prey on the desperate. I have come close to doing it but have refrained. Several people told me that these businesses not only just pay 50 cents to the dollars but will spend more than the agreed amount and keep it - I mean what are the beneficiaries going to do? Selling their food allowance is illegal, so the people ripping them off know they are not going to complain. Smart leeches! However as far as myself, I do get some food at the shelter so I use what I do not use to help those I am friendly with that have some low-paying menial job, making too much to qualify but realistically not enough to live on, and buy HEALTHY groceries for them. Perhaps a bending of the rules but I feel good about it.
Insurance is not an easy thing obtain, well not for people on this level of existence. Being HIV(+), I am eligible to get an assistance insurance for people with disabilities. In my case, the only disability of being HIV(+) is the prejudice and misinformation people have with people "like me". Well, of course, that is for a future article- or book! In December, a social worker at my doctor's office, Anna, signed me up for insurance. Great, except it was the wrong one. Apparently there are 40,000 of us assigned to the wrong insurance and now I/we have to deal with an appeal process not easy to navigate. I had called two different social workers , one at ISS and the other Anna, to ask them if my "incorrect" insurance had vision coverage. The bank and property manager (from my foreclosure) had thrown away my contacts and good glasses and all I had was a pair of broken glasses with one lens- lovely indeed. In the meantime, I called the insurance carrier and discovered I do have vision coverage. The two social workers, rather than call, simply gave me the addresses of two agencies that provide free glasses. Nice, but not what was needed or what I asked for. The frustrating thing with my vision as I found out this AM, I went to an eye doctor/ clinic- "Three Guys"- in downtown PGH. The insurance is supposed to cover free exam and contact lens or glasses. Without telling me or asking me, they gave me an extra exam which now requires a fee of $34.00 which I do not have and therefore cannot get my contact lenses which I am sure they are billing the carrier for and will get in. A catch-22 for me. Good for everyone else but me.
The most frustrating aspect of trying to move myself up and out of this quicksand pit is job hunting. Agency after agency tell you that a criminal record will not hinder them finding someone employment. Goodwill has been the absolute worst. As I wrote about before, they claim they specialize in helping people like myself with "barriers" like criminal backgrounds. NOT TRUE! Again, I only want the chance to explain to a potential employer why I have this criminal background. So far, social groups who claim to help, help by allowing one to sit at a computer and find a job themselves. This is NOT how they advertise themselves. Of course, I have only tried to use 50-100 social and employment agencies, all dismally bad, but I have to believe that there is one agency who knows how to help me find an opportunity to get to an interview of substance.
I will end this article with my experience with an agency called "Labor Ready". When I utilized them in Butler, that particular office was friendly and gave respect to their workers though the jobs were pretty bad. However, now being in Allegheny County, this Labor Ready is completely different. They told me it would only take one hour to transfer my file from Butler County to Allegheny County. It took over two weeks then they made me do the entire hiring process over anyway. Early in December, they offered me a position, at $7.25/hour to go to a recycling area and walk around and pick up garbage. I was fine with that. Later, a Jay, called me and said he had a regular ticket for me. This meant that if I liked the job, it would be regular. It was to start at 11 PM that night. I said I would try it. He said to let him know in the morning if I liked it when I picked up my check. This work was for a company called "Prestige", a secondhand UPS type of business but many levels down as far as a quality of a company. They said I would be trained all night. Training lasted less than 10 minutes and then I was put on a line, pulling everything from car bumpers to US Mail. I was there for eight hours. No breaks of any kind were permitted. I know this is illegal. When I went to the Labor Ready office to pick up my check and say I would not return, he was angry. He said he needed me there and I would let him down if I did not return. I said I had no problem working but 8 hours with no breaks is wrong and illegal. He said that once they got enough workers, breaks would be allowed. I said that I had spoken to other workers and supervisors there and no breaks had ever been allowed. I also reminded him that a woman at their orientation had declared no one would ever be forced to work a job they were not happy with. I told him I was not happy. He said, "Well, I'm going to terminate you anyway." - which he did. Oh, Boo Hoo Hoo- I am currently trying to schedule an appointment with the US Dept. of Labor Office in Pittsburgh to report this.
As I have said many times, the vast majority of social workers I have dealt with- and there have been so many of them- have been so very nice BUT they also seemed to have lost their way and enthusiasm in helping people and all desire to try to improve the system. It is taunting tasc indeed trying to improve this cumbersome system but to do nothing allows the system to sink further in its own quagmire. Another of my favorite sayings, over used that it is, ..."A journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step." I would ask the system, bureaucracy, staff and users of this system to pull together to get the social system to start moving in a positive direction. It should be done. It can be done. It must be done.
Conclusion.. FOR NOW!!
As I have said many times, the vast majority of social workers I have dealt with- and there have been so many of them- have been so very nice BUT they also seemed to have lost their way and enthusiasm in helping people and all desire to try to improve the system. A taunting tasc indeed, trying to improve this cumbersome system, is to do doing nothing which allows the system to sink further in its own quagmire or work to improve it.. no argument. Another of my favorite sayings, over used that it is, ..."A journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step." I would ask the system, bureaucracy, staff and users of this system to pull together to get the social system to start moving in a positive direction. It should be done. It can be done. It must be done.
More of my Associated Articles
- Homeless but Thankful on Thanksgiving
This being my first holiday in a shelter, it ended up being a day where I saw the absolute worst and the absolute best of humanity.
- A Shelter For This Homeless One
This is my continuing saga of what it is like - is like for me- to be an intelligent and well educated person and to suddenly find myself homeless and the hurdles I have to contend with.
- Gay + HIV(+) + Jail (Allegheny County Jail) = Prejud...
To dovetail a topic I alluded to in my homeless series, I want to detail a very bad experience I had Allegheny County Jail
- THE ARTS = A Brightspot Even for the Homeless
The Arts - especially BALLET - is always a bright spot when life is dark and dismal.
- HOME (LESS) FOR THE HOLIDAYS
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES WHICH GIVES READERS THE POINT OF VIEW OF SOMEONE WHO HAS SUDDENLY FOUND HIMSELF HOMELESS. THE FIRST SRTICLE WILL BE MORE OG A 'MENU OF TOPICS TO COME.