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The New Faces of Homelessness
Fact or Fiction
In times past, the homeless had been viewed as the rejects of society. They were the people we saw on the streets either drunk or drugged up. We would see them on the street, sleeping, sitting with bags and junk, and dirty ragged clothes. They were usually older people who walked around talking to themselves, with urine and dirt stains on their clothes. Sometimes we would see the younger homeless people whom we assumed were runaways. The general concensus was, they had done something outside of the normal flow of life that resulted in their present state. We have overlooked the pertinent factors that got them there. Society doesn't present in the media this very real and deep institution called, "Homeless!" These new faces of homelessness are the working poor and their children. Many of the ladies I met there, had jobs. Yes, paying jobs but couldn't maintain paying the bills needed to keep a home. You very well could have a co-worker that's homeless and never know that every night they leave work, it's to return to a shelter. Some of these families are fleeing domestic situations or even human trafficking scenarios. Overall, it amazes me that in America, one of the richest nations in the world, would choose to ignore this very real and presently growing epidemic. The other thing that amazes me is the lack of real understanding amongst the American public concerning this issue.
How it Began.
Many people will acknowledge that one is only a paycheck away from being homeless, but do they fully understand that one is really only a unpredicted, uncontrollable set of circumstances away from being homeless? And, the issue may not be the lack of MONEY. Yep, I had the money to secure another place to abode, but the aboding places were not accepting my MONEY. See, the rules to the GAME has changed, and unless you stay plugged in, you're going to get caught off guard by this GAME!. I'll explain later about the GAME.
I had to move from my apartment by August, and I started looking for housing at the end of June. So, with no luck in finding another home, my family and I stayed with a family member while I continued to look for housing. I was working, so this was a little difficult. Then came the bad news, two weeks into staying with this relative, I was told my assignment was over. I no longer had any income, and, now I'm panicking. I knew I couldn't stay with this relative too long at the risk they could lose their subsidized housing. Stress level was at 1000% at that moment.
Now this is the GAME I was talking about. The people I contacted about housing were not responding, or if they did respond, there was a long process: applications, credit checks, and background checks, and in some cases they wanted a application fee! The days when landlords didn't care about that stuff and were only concerned with if and how you paid your rent are gone. It has become a serious business, and landlords aren't concerned about losing money having an apartment empty.
Time was of the essences, and my options were slim. So I turned to our local Veterans Outreach Center and thankfully they had a homeless Vets program. They were able to arrange for my family and I to go into a women and children's shelter until they could figure out my situation. So, with no other option, we entered the shelter.
Who I Am!!
On August 26, 2015, My daughter, 3 grandchildren, and I entered a homeless shelter for women and children. I was and am, a 50 year old Air Force veteran, degreed and experienced, intelligent, and prioritized grandmother of 5, mother of 3(two grown and one deceased), and a worker since I was 14 years old who has seen my share of ups and down, but always maintaining my ability to pull through with the grace and mercy of the good Lord JESUS CHRIST!! I have labeled myself as GOD's cheerleader because I encourage everyone no matter what situation you may be facing. I know that the Lord can do any and everything, except lie and repent!
I'm not afraid to reveal who I am, just so that you might understand, not everyone at the homeless shelters need to be fixed. And, so people will know that there's a new breed of people entering shelters. Never in my life did I think I might be in a shelter, but there I was. Still amazed that I could not find an apartment.
Arrival at the Homeless Shelter
Upon entering the shelter, we were told to bring only enough clothes for 2-3 days. One suitcase full was allowed because storage space was limited, and clothes were available. Once we got there, we were stopped at the guards desk and had to have our bags checked and confiscated. Even our purses. All drugs including any prescription and non-prescription medications were to be taken, logged in, and secured in the clinic. You're escort through metal detectors, yes the children too, and then taken to the intake office where they have you sign all kind of paperwork and give you all the rules and regulations. Once you go through the intake, you could sit there for hours waiting for them to get you to your room. Once in your room you think okay, this isn't too bad, until you realize there's no privacy. Any RC(resident coordinator) can walk in your room anytime. Everyone is awaken at 6:00 am for breakfast at 7:00 am. You must leave your room!! You eat three times a day, and there's only one snack after dinner. You're not allowed to bring any food in, but because the Veterans have a different contract, they may bring in a small amount of food, and when I say small, it's a small amount to be eaten only at meal times, no food allowed in the room. You have specific times you can go get medicine, and not when you need it. You only get to get clothes once within 30 days, and you are encouraged to go to a Chapel service at 7:00 pm. If you don't, you must sit in the dining hall until Chapel is over at 7:30 pm, then you might get a snack at 8:00 pm. Lights are out at 9:00 pm for kids, and adults at 10:00 pm. You have a 7:30 pm curfew, and if you miss it more than 3 times, you're kicked out. You have 30 days in the emergency section to either be chosen to go to transitional housing or find your own place. They will kick you out either way. Thanks to our local Veterans Homeless program, this wasn't the case with me, but it got a little sticky.
Don't Want to Go There Again.
I'm sharing some of what it's like to be in a shelter, but there's so much more. People tend to think that these shelters are a god sent answer, but they complicate, degrade, and manipulate people. The system would work better if the worker's were dedicated to seriously helping those who are in need, and the people were pointed in the right direction to the drug and alcohol dependency programs and/or mental health programs that provided real time help instead of a wild goose chase all across the city, day after day, with no bus fare to accomplish anything. I really felt bad for a lot of the ladies and children who were trapped in a system that was promoting a way out, but instead was misusing them, and any amount of funds they may have had. The way the economy is going, some of you might find yourself in a dire situation needing one of these shelters that doesn't have enough room to accommodate the growing number of people needing the help of a shelter. And just to let people know, the Homeless gets no free ride, the Shelter is not FREE!!