Sunday, September 29, 2013

Page Views

Self promotion - for the month of Sept 2013 this blog will hit a record of sorts. Google started keeping track of page views of this blog back in 2007. Sept of that year saw just under 7 thousand page views, but this month, with a day and a half still remaining, it's at 44,000 page views - the most for any month since the counting began.   It'll probably finish out the month with 45,500.

Thanks for reading my blog, and for telling your friends about it. 
This blog depends on your support to keep it growing.
 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Homeless People Work


ROI vs Survival - The Homeless Mindset

For those not familiar, ROI stands for "Return On Investment".   ROI is a term kicked around by business people, stock brokers, capitalists.   ROI is a way of measuring potential profit.  It is mentioned amongst people who are attempting to maximize their profits.   It is not really something you hear mentioned among homeless people, or by people running homeless facilities.

Homeless people's minds are focused on other things, mainly survival.  ROI implies that a person has something and is trying to add to it.  Homeless people have nothing on which they could add more.  The survival mindset is all about trying to secure and keep the most basic of life's necessities and just one of each.  Food, Shelter, Clothing, etc.  When you are homeless these basics are hard to come by, and even harder to keep.   For example, homeless people don't have refrigerators in which to store food, therefore they must collect only enough for their immediate need, eat it as it becomes available, and then begin the search for the next meal.   This dynamic applies to everything a homeless person needs.   Homeless people are so far into the immediate, they are not inclined to think about future investments.

When business people, financial investors, or even the average citizen with a 401k, considers the homeless condition, they usually get it wrong.  They themselves have been thinking within the ROI paradigm for so long that they just can't comprehend how other people might live.   They don't realize, and perhaps they deny the fact, that homeless people live within a different paradigm - the paradigm of survival.

People who think in terms of ROI say things like, "If you improve/increase services to the homeless, you'll only attract more homeless people to our area." Or, they say things like, "The homeless are attracted to our city because we have such good weather."  Or "feeding homeless people will cause our area to be overrun with homeless people". Etc.  But none of these concepts are true. ROI and homelessness are like oil and water, they just don't mix.  Sadly this ROI type of thinking easily becomes the defacto list of excuses for not helping the homeless to meet their immediate needs, nor to help them overcome their homelessness.

The reality of homelessness is that homeless people have very few places to just "be," to actually exist without harassment.   By law and by police action, cities do their best to corral the homeless into the least desirable areas of town.   Of course there are laws that some people find to be a nuisance, such as laws of equal protection, that allow the homeless to participate in public events and use public facilities.   And so you have, in many cities, these little islands of homeless people, in public places such as public parks, and in the undesirable areas of town. (you will also notice certain "homeless highways", paths that homeless people follow when they travel from one island to the next.)

Then when people are moved with compassion to help the homeless, by providing them shelter, or by feeding them, these compassionate people go looking for the places where the homeless are gathered, and that is where they set up shop, as it were.    The people who are against providing assistance to the homeless will tell you that services attract homeless people, but actually the reverse is true.   It is the homeless people who attracted the compassionate.   It is not even a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" kind of question.   First there were homeless people, then came the compassionate people to help them.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Homeless Guy In San Diego - An Update

It might do me some good to review my situation at this point, mostly to help me refocus my efforts. 

It is very easy for me to get stuck in a rut.  Actually, it's a symptom of my particular mental health condition - once I develop a routine for myself, I rarely veer away from it.  It is something I really need to break from, so that I can live a fuller life, including leaving homelessness for good.

I stay at the Alpha Project tent shelter.   When I get up in the morning, I go either to Starbucks for coffee, or to McDonalds for breakfast.   There, I get online, work on the blog, answer emails, and do other internet things.  Then, around noon, I walk a ways down to Subway for lunch.   I have gift cards from people for Subway.   I then return to either Subway or McDonalds to get back online until I'm ready to go back to the shelter for the night.   Yes, there are some variations to this routine, but this is the basics of my day.  It's a very small world I am living in.   I have been breaking from this routine for things like replacing the various items lost when my wallet was stolen.  I've got about half of those things back.   I'm now thinking of just waiting until the first of next month (less than a week away) to get the other things, as those things will cost money to get - birth certificate and state ID - 50 dollars for the two.   At the first of the month I will get my SSI check.    I have about 50 dollars right now, thanks to some blog donations.  But I think I should hold on to that right now, just in case something comes up.  Yes, I know that I could go to a homeless service provider for that money to replace my IDs, but I just don't feel right doing that when I can afford it myself.   Those places operate with limited funding, and there are others they can help, who are having a harder time than I am.

I have the support of some very good/nice/smart/compassionate/generous people.  And that is something that many other homeless people don't have.   Yes, there are other homeless people who receive help from family, and other sources, something that I don't have.  We are all trying to do the best we can with what we are blessed with.  Yet some people have no blessings what so ever.  It is interesting, and inspiring to see how the more fortunate homeless tend to help/assist the less fortunate homeless.   Still, we are talking about people with extremely limited resources and who don't have much to share.   And since they are all living in abject poverty, the temptation to take what is not offered is strong among many of them.

When I first arrived in San Diego, I was blogging more often.  That happened because I had more time to blog.    There is no wifi in the tent shelter, and since I have a curfew to be back in the tent by 8 pm, it cuts my blogging time by one third.  The trade off is that I'm more rested physically, and that's a good thing.   And for the fact that several in the tent have sticky fingers, I don't feel comfortable pulling out my laptop in front of the masses living there.   Yes, there are several people living in the tent who have laptops, and use them every day there, but doing so is a risk.  I have a hard enough time when I'm at McDonalds and someone from the tent sees me working on my laptop.  I do lock down everything I own each night.  Hopefully that will be enough.

I still have a lingering cough from the cold I had a while back.   I also have either an abscessed tooth, or an infected sinus cavity - perhaps it's both.  It doesn't really hurt, but I can feel the pressure just under my cheek.

The condition of the showers and sink at the tent is awful and so I'm reluctant to use them.  So, I just try to not get to sweaty and shower just once every 3 days.  And I do things like brushing my teeth and wash my face in the restrooms of Starbucks or McDonalds.   At the tent there is a row of portajohns, but they too are poorly maintained, and the place reeks from the smell of them.   Yet because both men and women stay in the tent, we are required to do things like change clothes out in the portajohns.   But that's a bad situation too because the men at the tent have notoriously bad aim.  Not only are the portajohns very small and hard to move around in, it's hard to use them and not come out dirtier than you went in.  And yet, these portajohns are in better condition than the 2 public restrooms offered by the city.   Now, there is one clean facility that I've seen, and that is at the Neil Good Day Center.  The problem with that place is that its location is about as far away from things as they can get, and the lines there are very long, and security is intimidating.

In a while I'm going to leave this McDonalds to go down to 4th Ave to do a load of laundry.  It's getting cool enough here to require long pants, I've been wearing short for a while.  One thing I need to get on the first when the SSI check comes is another pair of jeans.   It does get cool in San Diego in the winter.  Eventually I'll need to get a coat too.   Now that I'm in the shelter and can store things under my bed, I can collect a few more things that I need.  The plan is to get out of the shelter and into an apartment by Christmas.   OK, so much for my rambling here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Becca Stevens

It is a rare person who fully dedicates their lives to the benefit of others and makes it work.   I've known of only a handful of people in my lifetime who have done this, Becca Stevens is one such person.   In Nashville she started the Magdalene  House, which in turn started Thistle Farms.    Magdalene House is a place for women living the street life who have been caught up in drugs and prostitution, to get off the streets and start life anew.   Thistle Farms is a cottage industry started and run by the women of Magdalene House.   Lives are transformed every day with these programs.   And it all exists because of the tremendous efforts of Becca Stevens.

Becca was the focus of a news piece on ABC last night.   You can read about it at, http://abcnews.go.com/m/blogEntry?id=20365877

And you can read about Becca's book at
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/59248-short-takes-religion-publishing-news-briefs-september-2013.html

Now, I am looking for such people in San Diego.  Hopefully they exist here and we can get together and make something happen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blog Birthday

Shhh... did you hear that? The sound of another birthday going by.... August 20th my blog had its eleventh birthday. Such an old man it is.

Stress Intimidation and Homeless People

Being homeless is very stressful, for many people it's the most stressful experience in their lives.   Those people who assume that life as a homeless person is a life of leisure are simply wrong.  There is no upside to being homeless.  For those who think that being homeless means being able to avoid responsibilities, I suggest they give it a try for themselves.  It's those responsibilities that give you the comfort of not being homeless.  Try living without the comfort of a roof over your head and see if you really find any joy, or leisure, in that.

Let me reiterate, being homeless is very stressful.   Add to that any mental health imperfections you may have, and they will no longer lay dormant, or hidden in your denial.   Yes, stress exacerbates mental health issues, pretty much in the same way that that putting stress on a broken or bruised bone hurts like hell.

Sadly, in today's world, few people know and understand the true nature of homelessness, even those people who are put in charge of homeless service facilities.   Even those with educational backgrounds in sociology and psychology don't have a clue about homelessness.   There is no "school of homelessness" anywhere in the world.  At best, someone may have taken one or two classes on the subject, as an elective.    These people who are put in charge of homeless facilities, more often than not, jump to inaccurate conclusions about the nature of homelessness and homeless people, and the policies and directives they develop for homeless services often do more harm than good.

The biggest and most obvious problem is that city leaders put the burden of caring for homeless people on government.   Homelessness is actually a health issue, mainly a mental health issue, but it includes all other aspects of health as well.  Homelessness is a health issue because homelessness affects the wellbeing of people.  Just whom would you rather decide what's best for your health?   A doctor or a politician?

But I digress.

Homeless people are already living with a great deal of stress just from being homeless.  And often times the decisions made by homeless facility administrators only adds to that stress -  that stress becomes problematic for everyone.  Especially for the mentally ill, the stress level often becomes too much and they crack under the pressure, resulting in a psychotic episode.   For others the stress makes they extremely defensive. Then when a homeless person feels threatened, he/she becomes combative.  Verbal and physical fights often result.   Being that many homeless service providers have zero tolerance policies for any kind of misbehavior, including fighting and even arguing, it is the shelter itself, and it's administrators, that are guilty of creating the scenarios that lead to people being banned from their shelters.

City officials are more likely to misunderstand the difficulties of dealing with homeless people, being that they've never actually dealt with homeless people themselves and are more interested in appeasing their constituency than in doing what's right for the homeless.  Yet they are often the ones to decide homeless services policies and procedures.   Homeless shelters attract a wide variety of people looking for help, and many are dealing with very complex issues that require specialized handling.  For this, the employees of homeless service providers really need to be trained on dealing with this great variety of people.  Besides case manager work, homeless service provider facilities have many other services to offer, but facilities usually hire the wrong people to handle those positions.  What often happens is that the facility administration hires a bunch of club bouncer types.  Or the get recently homeless people.  Or they hire people coming right out of jail or prison.   This may be a good service to recent ex-cons, but it's harmful to the homeless they are supposed to be helping.

Bouncer types, the recently released from prison types, etc, all have one thing in common, they all come from environments where intimidation is the rule, intimidation is how things get done, they use intimidation preemptively, hoping to prevent a bad situation, they assume that every situation ha the potential to go bad.    The thing is, when you just assume that every person is a potential problem, you end up creating a very stressful, and hostile environment.   Everyone running the different services starts off expecting to have trouble out of everyone.   Sure, facility employees may occasionally run into a difficult person, but the majority of homeless people will never cause problems.   Still, being treated that way has a negative affect, and will certainly worsen the condition that homeless people find themselves in.  Treating everyone as if they are a potential problem will only cause problems, and will increase the stress on everyone, and will actually be the cause of the problem they were hoping to avoid.

Even worse is when these people who have no real training on how to deal with homeless people become over confident in their positions - often there is no real accountability for them to answer to - they develop into a clique, often they assume they have full run of he facility, they become more of a goon squad than security and other personnel.   They do favors for those of the homeless they are friends with and will be less than courteous to those they don't know or don't personally like.

All of this creates a great deal of animosity between homeless people and homeless services workers, a problem that exists just below the surface, and will explode into anti social behavior when triggered.
--
The Homeless Guy is currently living in San Diego California, where he was born and raised.  And, he is observing homeless life in San Diego and comparing to other places where he has been homeless.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Short Post - Homeless in San Diego

A new guy has moved into one of the bunks next to mine.  He is obviously schizophrenic, and angry. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up  killing several of us during the night, while we sleep.   Keep tuned in for updates.

I've been having a reoccurring dream.   I look like a zombie, all scarred up and bug-eyed.   I am standing up, stuck between two large metal plates.  The plates come together quickly and squish me like a bug.  Then I think to myself, "well, I no longer exist."


Sunday, September 22, 2013

San Diego Homeless Beware

I think I've come up with a sort of plan, maybe.   Saturdays will be the day I go photo safari-ing.  I'll post the photos I like on Sunday.  And I'll write blog posts Monday through Friday.  Sound like a plan?   Here's the last photo for the day.   Evidently, illegal lodging is allow with consent.    (Seriously, if you are going to create laws that will negatively affect the lives of others, at least use correct grammar.)   Are you better than the homeless, or not?

A Rare Downtown San Diego Find

A private home with a garden.   So much of this city is paved over.  This house is on Park St.  I walk past it on my way to McDonalds.

 

The Homeless Guy In Beautiful San Diego

Just another picture of this picturesque city.  This one was taken today at about 9 am.

This is of the New Downtown Library, looking at it from the trolley station at 12th and Imperial.
 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

San Diego Homeless Shelter - Alpha Project Tent

There is no room in the inn.  That's what they told Jesus' parents.  It's what they tell the homeless these days in San Diego.   There are relatively few homeless shelters (and few shelter beds) in this city.   Oh, San Diego is still on par with every other city, with the number of homeless here, but more of them live outside as apposed to being in a shelter.   From what all I've gathered, there is no shelter that will have beds waiting for whomever asks, at the time they ask.   Every homeless person wishing to get into a shelter will have to wait a period of time, before being allowed in shelter.

Every homeless person will have to spend some time sleeping on the streets - most likely on the hard concrete of a sidewalk.   This, of course, make your average homeless person more grateful for the opportunity to get into a shelter, regardless of the condition of the shelter.

Being that I am currently staying at the "Tent", it would behoove me to avoid talking about the negatives of the place.   Every shelter has some negative aspects.   Now, some people say that a person should never criticize a place that is offering you help.   But I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind taking the good with the bad.  I like the whole story.  You can't really grasp the reality of a place unless you look at all sides of it with equal honesty.   Still, I don't want to upset anyone and cause them to kick me out.

The 'Tent', operated by the Alpha Project is the most bare bones shelter I've ever stayed at.  The Tent is just that, a huge tent in which some 220 homeless people stay each night.  It is currently a winter shelter program, but attempts are being made to turn it into a year round shelter.  

The Tent is located in a parking lot so asphalt is the floor.  In an attempt to get as many people into the tent as possible, (or so I assume), the beds are placed very close .  The bunk racks are military style, painted grey with about 50% of that grey paint chipped off and replaced with rust.   Each person much supply their own linens (sheets, pillow case and pillow - a lot of homeless people don't have linens and so they just do without), if asked for the shelter will give blankets.  All the mattresses are covered in plastic, and make noise every time people move around on their beds.  Everyone must store their possessions under the beds on the asphalt.  There is long term storage available for those who need it, back behind the tent in plastic storage bins.

Everyone must be in their bed at 8pm for a bed check.   Anyone not in bed at that time will be kicked out.  No need holding up a bed for someone who isn't going to be using it.  Lights out during the week is at 10pm.  People are allowed to stay up as long as they wish, and are not required to stay in their racks (it's not prison).  But no one can leave the fenced in tent area after 8 pm.  The earliest a person can exit the facility and not get in trouble is 4:30am.  Allowances are made for people with jobs. People are required to not disturb others, day or night, and there is plenty of room outside the tent which is always open.  There are tables and chairs underneath a tarp cover outside the tent entrance.  There are electrical outlets as well for those with laptops and phones.   Outside the tent on the opposite side from the tables and chairs, is a row of portajohns and a portable shower trailer.  There are three small shower stalls for the men and three for the women.   That doesn't seem like much, for 220 people, but from what I gather, many people walk up a few blocks to a homeless day shelter to take care of most of their hygiene needs.   The tent and the day shelter are run by the same organization.

The best part of this facility is the freedom it allows the homeless.   As long as people are respectful of each other, and take care of their personal possessions, keeping the tent area as neat and orderly as possible, and obey the curfew rules, then the homeless people staying there are free to do whatever they wish with their time.   During the day, there are people from different agencies who visit the tent, and offer services and information to the homeless.  So far, though, I haven't stayed during the day, opting instead to leave early in the morning to take care of my own needs - and return just before the 8pm bed check.

There are pros and cons to running a shelter this way, but for me and my current situation, it works best.   After a certain amount of time of getting to know the city and homeless services better, I will probably move on to another shelter.   But right now, I'm good where I'm at.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tim Driscoll, San Diego's One Man Homeless Outreach

As he says on his website, his operation is headquarted on the streets.  You can find his website at http://wamits.org  Someone referred him to me, because of my need for shoes, seeing as my other shoes (Timberlake Boots) were causing me problems.   We played email tag for a couple days until  today when we finally met up.  he had a couple pairs of shoes for me to try on, but the first pair was just what I needed.  Regular tennis shoes, black.  They fit, they are much cooler than my boots.  He had a pair of socks for me too.  My last pair had gotten wet when they fell into a shallow puddle of dirty water. (I'm clumsy).

Tim is a very congenial guy who has great fashion sense - seeing as he wears the same kinda straw hat that I do.  He does the work of homeless outreach all on his own.  He didn't explain why he  does this work, but I imagine it's a religious thing for him.   We talked for a while and he gave me a lot of leads on where to get help in the city.

He is always in need of donations and supplies.  He gives out shoes and the basic stuff you'd find in a homeless gift bag.  If you are looking for a straightforward service for the homeless in San Diego to support, you should work with Tim -  timd333(at)hotmail.com


16th and Island - The Epicenter of Homelessness in San Diego

God's Extended Hand

Sleeping In A Wheel Barrel

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Explanation

Do know that my first draft of a blog post is usually not my last.  I will still post my first draft to the blog, and then I'll begin editing it, making corrections to it for an hour or so.

It may happen that when you read my blog posts, that they don't make much sense, or that they are full of grammatical errors.  I can only suggest that you come back later on and re-read the blog post and see if it's any better written by then.   Just so you know.

My Own Worst Enemy

People do not become homeless because they did everything perfectly.   And an argument can be made to the effect that it is people's imperfection that leads them to homelessness.    I don't say that to imply that people create their own homelessness, there is certainly more going on in the world than "personal choices."  There are limits to people's abilities, and sometimes circumstances can push people into situations that are beyond their ability to deal with effectively.

The bible quote, "god never gives us more than we can handle" is so often misused.  Mostly because the word, "handle" in the above quote is subjective to the point of it lacks any true meaning.

We cannot prevent bad things from happening to us, and depending on the context of an event, we may, or may not, be able to prevent that thing from having a negative affect on us.  Even farther down the line,  we may not be able to prevent things from having a negative affect on us, and we may or may not have the ability to stop these things from destroying our lives.

Do we "handle" things well by preventing things from having a negative affect on our lives, or do we "handle" things well by preventing these them from destroying our lives.  Or, do we handle things well, not because we could stop them from destroying our lives, but because we are able to pick our selves up and begin life again, starting from scratch?   How do we handle, "handle"?

I am a screw up.  I excel at screwing up.  Screwing up wasn't the main cause of my becoming homeless, but I cannot rule it out as being involved in my becoming homeless.

As you can imagine, being homeless creates it's own obstacles to regaining a "normal" life.  But when you consider a person's own ability to create there own obstacles, you can see how a homeless person's troubles multiply.    If homelessness is 5 and my own inability to be perfect is also a 5, the equation is not 5 + 5, but 5 X 5, so the craziness of my life and the difficulties I face multiplies exponentially.

The voices of my parents echo in my head every time I screw up something.   As a child, any imperfection on my part was met with harsh criticism by my parents.  All the guilt and condemnation comes back to me every time I make a mistake.   My parents mistakenly believed that punishment was the cure to everything, and if initial punishments didn't create the desired results, they doubled up on the punishments, thinking that eventually the right amount of punishment would gain them the results they desired from me.    At some point, they realized that punishment wasn't working, yet instead of trying a different approach to my issues, they instead decided to give up - their minds unable to think of alternative ways of dealing with me.

The bigger problem being that I was, (and still am) suffering from a condition called Asperger's Syndrome - a condition of the brain that few people knew about and fewer people understood at the time I was growing up.  It is a condition that causes people to behave in ways often considered incorrect by others.

As I continue to screw things up, I have to apply a great deal of energy overcoming all the negativeness that echos in my head, all the things my parents, especially my father said to me, when I was a kid.   These things used to destroy me.   Messing something up would send me hurling into a state of depression that kept me prisoner for a long period of time, and during that time, many aspects of my life would fall apart.  Sometimes the accumulation of screw ups on my part would cause me to become homeless, not because of the screw ups, but because of all the residual baggage that I carried in my head, in regard to my screw ups.

The other day, my wallet was stolen.   All my important documentation was in that wallet.   (talk about a big screw up)  The next day I started the process of getting all those documents replaced.  And with the help of some good friends, the negative affects of this screw up were minimized.    One friend went to the trouble of contacting the metro bus system here, so to get me a replacement bus pass.    The new bus pass was mailed to her, and she brought it to me yesterday.   Well, in true Kevin fashion, some time between yesterday and this morning, I'd misplaced the bus pass again.

As I bemoaned my situation of always screwing things up, my friend said, "You can be taught".  To this I replied, "People have been saying that about me since I was 5."  She then replied, "They just give up too fast."  She is helping me to get yet another bus pass.



 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keep The Momentum Going Forward

In every aspect of life obstacles will appear and will push you back and you will lose recently gained ground.   The sooner you start pushing back, and get the momentum going in the direction you want, the better off you will be.

When you are homeless it often feels as if the whole world is against you, and that the pressures against you are overwhelming.  And you feel that fighting against the stream is just a waste of time and effort.  It is very common to experience some depression when things are going the wrong way, or not going at all.   That old depression can really sap your strength and your motivation.

But you MUST push forward, despite it all - even if it seems like such a waste.   If you push hard enough, long enough, and not give up, eventually things will start moving in your direction again.

It is also very important to include as many friends and family as possible in your efforts to improve your situation.   Sometimes that's difficult because part of becoming homeless means distancing yourself from friends and family.   Sometimes you have to make new friends and create a new family for yourself, perhaps out of the very people homeless people you meet on the streets.   Team work pays off.   Sharing of the load helps.

I've been spending the day, today, pushing against the unfortunate event of losing my wallet and all its contents, including a bank card, state ID and Social Security card.  I'm hoping that by Friday I should have replaced everything that was lost, with the exception of the 10 bucks that was inside the wallet.

I appreciate everyone's help with this.

Homeless Survival Tip #1 Secure Your Stuff

Seriously, if you don't secure your possessions, you will eventually lose them. Even though most homeless people are good people, in any crowd of thousands, there are bound to be some people are not going to be your friend, are not going to look out for your best interests, are not going to care about you. They will steal your things if you give them an opportunity. It's the same as with any other segment of society. Still, there are things that you can do to protect yourself and prevent most potential loses. And when you are homeless, any loss can be a big setback, so you should be even more diligent in protecting your things. As this video shows, you should use a back pack that has double zippers with tabs large enough that you can lock together with a suitcase lock. Suitcase locks are sold at Walmart and other stores, usually in packs of 4 or 5. And they can run anywhere from 5 to 12 dollars, depending on the brand. I always get the cheapest, they seem to work as well as the more expensive brands. If someone finds your back pack, those locks will prevent them from rifling through it, as least for a while. And get a master lock, so to secure your entire back pack to a fence or other structure, so that no one can just walk away with your back pack. Sure, if someone had a knife they could cut into the bag, but that would require more time and effort. Most people who steal from the homeless, are looking for a very easy and non-confrontational experience. The more difficult you make it for them to take your things, the more likely they are to not even bother trying. Also, understand that the tactic of locking your backpack to a fence only works in certain scenarios.  Don't expect your bag to be secure on a fence for a whole day.  Most likely a property owner or the police will see it and will confiscate it.   I would do this only while sleeping near my bag.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Help Spread The Word About The Homeless Guy

Hey guys,
     Thank you so much for reading my blog here.  The recent effort I've made since coming to San Diego has doubled my readership.  Still compared to other blogs and websites, "The Homeless Guy" is not very popular, certainly not as popular as it used to be.   I'm working to grow the readership here so that the ads I have now attached will become a solid addition to my income.  This extra income will allow me to do more with this blog, to expand into video and podcasting.    All of which is done to increase the awareness of homelessness, to combat the bigotry, and to inspire compassion - perhaps even to help organize compassionate people into a force for positive change.   So please do all you can to spread the word about this blog.   Click all the G+ tags.   Share this blog on your facebook and web pages.   Google search "san diego homeless" and scroll until you find my blog, then click on it.  That will raise the blog in the search lists.
I appreciate it so much!  Thanks!

Landing At The Bottom Of The Rabbit Hole

At the end of the day, I walked down, once again, to the Tent.   The Tent is a homeless shelter funded by the city and run by a group called, The Alpha Project.   Each night for the past week, I would stand at the gate, hoping to be let in.  And each night I would be turned away.   Anywhere from a dozen to three dozen other homeless people would be outside the gate, hoping to get in, as well.  Most nights, there were no open beds, so no one got in.   The most I'd seen get into the shelter in one night was four.

Every night the process is the same.  At 7:30 pm the people hoping to get into the shelter would start showing up at the gate.   If you approached the gate before 7:30 pm, you'd be told to go away.  They didn't want people congregating too much at the gate, so people would have to go at least a block away, and wait.

I'd begun to recognize some of the people who were coming each night.  We'd talk a little to pass the time.   At 8:00 pm, the gate would be closed.   If any person currently staying at the Tent showed up after the gate was closed, they'd be considered late and without a good excuse, they'd loose their bed - meaning that one of us waiting would get his bed.   That happened once during the past week.  The guy pleaded to be let back in, he was sent packing.  His demise gave the rest of us hope.

A little after 8:00 pm, the guard at the gate came out and wrote down everyone's name, who wanted to get in.  He then went back inside.

Some time later he came out and made a little speech.   "OK, we have a just a few beds opens. I know that some of you have been waiting for a long time to get in.  Just know that if we don't get you in tonight that we haven't forgotten about you and we'll get you in as soon as well can."

Then he called out for numbers - 4, 5, 8, and 12.  My number was 7.

All of us not called started walking away. I put on my back pack, grabbed the sleeping bag, and joined the walk of disappointment.  But one of the four had yet to respond.  They called out for that person again, by name as well as number.   No one replied.  I stopped in my tracks.  I said, "call out another name, then."   The guard said, "hold on a second".  Most of those who had been outside the gate were already half a block away.  He went back into his trailer office, briefly, then came back out.   "Kevin Barbieux, number 7", he called.  He didn't have to repeat himself, I didn't hesitate to step inside the gate.   The four of us who got in were standing together, half smiling and meekly congratulating each other.   We were happy to be inside the gate.   We knew full well there wasn't enough happiness to go around.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole

It is bad enough just losing one's wallet and its contents.   But for me, and people like me with Asperger's, it is really much more than that.   The stress of having to deal with all the complications of getting bank cards and ID cards and Soc Sec Cards and other things replaced, can and is overwhelming.   And when I'm overwhelmed, such as today, I have a tendency to shut down.  I retreat into my own head, try to shut everything out and create a though zone in my head where there is no stress.  Once created, I'm reluctant to leave it.

But, given my situation, if I don't act fast, and am not diligent in my pursuit of fixing this situation, it may very well lead to me falling deep into depression and despair that is almost impossible to get out of.   The complexity of that will be 10 times worse because it will also happen while I'm homeless.

I am aware that up until this point I have been purposely skirting the edge of homelessness, trying to protect myself  and prevent myself from falling deeper into that hole.   There are aspects of San Diego homelessness that I have been purposely avoiding.  Anyone would avoid these things if they had the resources to avoid them.     Also, I am still reluctant to give myself fully to the homeless experience here.   Mostly, I believe, because to do so is to admit that I'm no longer in control of my own situation, and that I'll become subject to the whims of others, the people who operate homeless facilities, allowing them to dictate the terms of my life.   They'll be telling me when I can shower, and when I can eat, and when I can sleep.   It's very hard to give up the autonomy, the control, over such basic aspects of your life.   It's not a good place to be, down this rabbit hole.

Rough Night

From 7:00pm on, people start gathering at the gate of the tent shelter. All of us are vying for whatever few possible open beds, made available because someone else didn't show up for bed call. Bed call is at 8:00pm. At 8:30pm the guy working the gate tells us that there are no open beds this night. Quietly, everyone walks away back towards the center of town.

One of those people waiting catches up to me and asks me where I plan to bed down for the night. I am reluctant to say, one because I don't really know this person, and two because a good place to sleep can easily be ruined when over run by too many people.

Up ahead I see the trolley pull up to the Imperial St and 12th Ave station. I tell him I have to catch the trolley and so I'm able to avoid telling him. I jog to the station, catch the trolley, and take a seat on board.

A few moments pass before the trolley doors begin to close. Right then, that guy who tried talking to me jumps on board. The closing doors just miss him. He looks at me and says, "hey". I tell myself, "Terrific, now you've got a shadow."

He asks me, "you heading to your spot?"

Now I'm stuck.  I tell him no, that I'm going to McDonalds for a while. But then I think for a minute about what I'm doing, and what I want to accomplish. I'm supposed to be the good guy here. I'm not out for my own benefit, but to hopefully make things better for other homeless people. (I try to not hurt my arm, patting myself on the back).

This guy seems ok enough. As the trolley passes the area where I sleep, I point it out to him. At the next stop, he gets off the trolley, walking in that direction. I continue my way up to the City College station. I exit the trolley there and walk the rest of the way up to McDonalds.

After a couple hours at McDonalds I head back towards the camp. I had left too late and missed the last trolley, so I walk the whole way. Just south of C street for a couple blocks down 12th, I pass the scary collection of street people. These homeless are not getting ready for a night's sleep. They are more like the angry and aggresive homeless I lived around, back in Nashville. I keep my head low and walk with purpose, hoping they'll ignore me as I pass. And they do.

I arrive at the area where I sleep and it is indeed crowded, even though I don't see my earlier shadow. There is just enough room to set my sleeping bag at a 90% angle to the fence that encircles the empty lot,and keeps the homeless out of it. the sidewalk changes just beyond where i set up to dirt and rough asphalt.

I set down my things, walk over a short way to the bushes, look around for any cops, and seeing none I take a leak. Back to where I set my things, I unroll my sleeping bag and prepare for sleep.

I was thinking and perhaps hoping that with it being Sunday night, we'd have a quiet night. No such luck. People were having a difficult time settling down. Some people were talking, others milling around, one guy was having a psychotic fit where he'd constantly pound his fist into is other hand over his head, repetitively. At the same time he was trying to keep his head and face covered with an old t-shirt. He did this for a while, as he sat up against the chain link fence, but he eventually got up and walked around doing the same thing. He came over to me and asked if I had anything to eat. As soon as the word "no" came out of my mouth, he asked if I had anything to drink. He was staring at my McDonalds cup. It was still mostly full. I let him take it. He seemed to need the contents of the cup, (Orange Hi-C), more than I need a piss cup for the middle of the night. After a short time he was back to his fist pounding. It was loud enough that I could keep track of him as he roamed an empty parking lot a block away. More people were milling around, some talking loud, some were non-homeless people making their way to the trolley station for the ride to points south.

There had been an outside rave earlier just a block away in a different, usually empty, parking lot. The music from it could be heard a mile away. I am guessing that that may have had something to do with the lack of tranquillity on the street. All the activity around me made it hard to fall asleep.

I did fall asleep, only to be awakened by the sounds of a commotion among the other campers about 20 feet away from where I am. An argument quickly turned into a fight. The obvious sound of a fist striking flesh happened only once, then there was more arguing. I'm all too familiar with it. People who fight and argue usually don't stand stay in one place but push and shove each other around. I look to make sure the parties involved are not moving my way, then lay my head back down, ignoring them, hoping to get back to sleep.

Each time that a peace would settle upon the combatants, someone's anger would flare up again, and the yelling and pushing would start over again. It took several minutes for things to calm down enough for the instigator to leave. From what I gather, the instigator is a non-homeless guy who was walking his dog, but also intoxicated from earlier partying.

After a few minutes of peace, and as the others are settling down, I see this non-homeless guy come running back towards us at a fast clip up the street. The first two homeless people he comes up on are standing with their bicycles. They had been talking quietly to each other. The drunk guy yells "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY DOG?"

He then grabs the closest homeless guy and throws him to the ground. He then turns to the homeless woman, who is also standing over her bike, and pushes her to the ground, yelling "YOU HAVE 5 SECONDS TO TELL ME WHERE MY DOG IS".

The next person in this guy's path is me. He looks at me for a second, but instead steps over me and head for the next person standing up. I reach for my phone to get ready to call the cops. What happens next I don't know because it's behind me. I'm guessing either someone pulled a weapon on him, or actually clocked him once. Whatever happened, it took the rage out of him. At that point people were able to tell the guy what they thought happened to his dog. His dog had run after one the guy's he was trying to fight with earlier, that guy had heading up another street.   Then the cops show up. In the safety and security of the flashing blue and red lights, I was able to calm down from all the agitation. I'm sure everyone is agitated. Shortly afterwards, I fall asleep. When I awake, some 3 hours later, I can't find my wallet.

The Worst Thing That Could Happen To A Homeless Person

Now I do have something to write about here.   Outside of being physically harmed, which almost happened last night as well, someone stole my wallet while I slept.   All my identification, drivers license and social security card, plus my debit card and some cash  and my buss pass (which was good for the rest of the month) and a few other things were all in my wallet.    I'll contact my bank as soon as they open to close off the debit card, but the ID is the most important loss as I need that to receive any kind of assistance.  I really hope that doesn't set back my assessment appointment with St Vincent's.    Also, getting ID replaced is a pain and expensive.   I'll have to go to a charity to get help with that as well.    As things stand, post 9-11, a person needs ID so to get ID.   At least I am in the city in which I was born.   Today is going to be a long day.

Of all the problems I've had being on the street over the years, I think I've lost my wallet only once before.  I am so angry at myself.     I've been using a sleeping bag the past few nights.  Last night, after getting into the sleeping bag, I realized  that my wallet was still in my back pocket.   I had already locked up my back pack securely and not wanting to have to get out and redo things, I took my wallet out of my pocket, but left it within the sleeping bag.  I figured with the wallet inside the sleeping bag with me, nothing could happen to it.   Well, in between falling asleep around 12:45am and waking up at 3:45am, I must have moved around in such a way that I bumped my wallet out of the bag to the point that it lay exposed.   And then someone walking by must have recognized it, and seeing I was asleep, they "absconded" with it.   The wallet couldn't have been more than inches away from my head, even it had worked it's way out of the sleeping bag.   It's all a bit creepy, as well as being a big pain in the ass.    I'm so angry with myself.   This was not part of the plan.  Now to try and minimize the fall out.   GRRRRRR

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Acclimating To Street Life In San Diego

Acclimating To Street Life In San Diego has taken longer than I expected.  Though, I have eased into it as much as possible.  I have been living on the streets of San Diego for 2 weeks now.

I have about 14 years of street life experience, but I haven't been on the streets for over 5 years.  So, it's taking a while to get used to it.   Also, being homeless in San Diego is different than in Nashville.  LOL, actually Nashville and San Diego couldn't be more different in every aspect, not just in homelessness.  The culture, politics, public transportation, population, city design, the ocean and lack there of, etc. - night and day.

I expect that on Tuesday, with my assessment meeting, that I'll get into some kind of temporary housing situation.   But whether I do, or not, my homeless experience here is going to become more intense.   For these first two weeks I've been taking it relatively easy.  With what money I had with me when I arrived, I have rented a motel room three times - whenever things became unbearable.  Yes, in the past 14 days, I have taken refuge at the Travelodge on Hotel Circle South 3 times.    But now that I've gotten used to life here, that will probably not happen again.   That is, unless I become sick again.   The first time I booked a room, it was because of sleep deprivation and the annoying body filth that comes from not showering for days.   The second time was due to being sick with a cold and not getting enough sleep.  The third time because I hadn't had a real shower in 5 days, I was still fighting my cold, and my feet hurt badly.   Today, my cold is all but gone, and my feet are feeling much better.    I'm not walking as much as I did when I first got here, so the burden on my feet is less now.   And, as one friend said, San Diego has it's own unique germ pool that will take a while to evolve into.

If I get into Fr Joe's, then my path will go in one direction, if not, it will go in another.   There is much more to the streets here that I have yet to explore.

Except for a couple recent donations that are coming by way of paypal (should have that money by tomorrow), I'm completely broke.   Blogging will become more difficult as I won't have the funds to sit in McD or Starbucks and use their wifi.  The downtown library is closed for the rest of the month, when their new building will be opened to the public.

I do want to make some videos about homelessness here in San Diego - getting into temporary housing will make that easier to do.

Which Comes First, Poverty or Bad Decisions?

This article was found in the Tennessean, Nashville's only daily newspaper.
by Dan Vergano
USA Today

Just being broke damages abilities to make good decisions in a way roughly equivalent to losing 13 IQ points, said a report Thursday based on decision-making experiments.
Performed in a New Jersey mall and among sugar cane farmers in India, the experiments suggest that the mental bandwidth taken up with worries about being strapped explain the poor decision-making widely seen among low-income families. That includes taking costly payday loans to missing appointments.
Rather the poor being poor because they make bad decisions, they make bad decisions because they are poor.
“You and I would suffer the same way if we were broke,” says study senior author Eldar Shafir of Princeton University. “It’s not just abject poverty. Once your budget is constrained, your decision-making suffers.”
In the experiments reported in the journal Science, 336 shoppers at a New Jersey mall, people with an average household income of $74,000, were presented with financial problems such as deciding how to pay for hypothetical car repairs.
Looking to rule out cultural or seasonal explanations, 464 sugar cane farmers from 54 villages in the Tamil Nadu region of India were also tested. These small farmers, who are paid once yearly at varied times around the year for their harvest, were tested when they had just been paid, and were flush, and when they were two months from their next payday, and broke.
“Simply put, being poor taps out one’s mental reserves,” says University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs, in a commentary on what she calls the “eye-opening” study.
Shafir acknowledges the study results contrast with “pick yourself up by your own bootstraps” thinking about escaping poverty. “We only have so much bandwidth to make decisions and if yours is taken up daily with child care and getting to work on time when your boss yelled at you yesterday, you won’t make good decisions,” he says.
Vohs and the study authors suggest that ways to foster better decisions could include streamlining long forms and repeated appointments often imposed on the poor by unemployment agency bureaucracies and simplifying work hours and offering better access to child care.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing About Homelessness

I've been writing up a storm here about homelessness, ever since arriving in San Diego.  But don't worry, I've been recently asked, by both Huffington Post and ThinkProgress, to write something for their websites, and now I can't think of anything.   I feel too distracted, my feet hurting, sleeping on the streets, not always having access to a toilet, trying in vein to get into a shelter.   I want my professional writing to be superior to other things I write.   That creates anxiety, and with it I find myself unable to write.

Urinating While Homeless

It's a real pisser.   To urinate is one of the most basic and natural acts for humans.   But when society tells you that there are only a few limited and approved methods for urinating, then society tells you that you cannot have access to those methods, it's enough to make you wet your pants.    Waiting until you get home can be hassle enough, but what if you don't have a home?    I'll tell you what you do, you break the laws regulating urination..

Walking to my current sleeping area, round about midnight, I passed a vacant lot with several waist high bushes.   I had to go, so I went.   Oh, it felt so good to empty my bladder.   It was the most precipitation those bushes had seen in some time.

I unrolled my sleeping bag, secured my possessions, took off my shoes to inspect the day's damage to my feet.  Then into the sleeping bag I slipped.  No more than 3 minutes later I see a couple cops walking passed where I had whizzed, and coming towards me.  "I'm in trouble now", I whispered to myself.   I fumbled around with my back pack, trying to act innocent.  They just kept walking.

As per usual, after a couple hours of sleep, I awoke with the need to pee, again.

This time I had with me the large McDonald's cup I'd drank from previously.   It's an old trick I learned from a time when I used to sleep in a car.   

Now that I had a sleeping bag, I had some privacy.  I sat up, kept the sleeping bag half zipped up, unzipped my pants, and placed the McDonald's cup into the sleeping bag with me.   I then peed into the cup.     And yes, it is no easy trick, sitting up in the manner, and letting it flow.  Some muscles must contract to keep you sitting up, but other muscles must relax to let the human liquid escape.

Three times I did this during the night, each time pouring out the contents of the cup into the ground.

This was awesome, as I no longer had to put shoes back on, and pack up everything, every time, just to visit the men's room.

Usually I get up for the day at about 4:30am.  But this morning I was able to sleep until the cops came to wake us up at 5:30am.   The cop was a real gentleman about it - called me sir, told me it was time to clear the area.   I thanked him, got up, got my things together, and headed up to Starbucks, where I got the security code for their restroom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alpha Project San Diego

Alpha Project operates a shelter for homeless people in San Diego within a huge tent that can sleep over 200.   Once a homeless person is given a bed, it is designated as their bed, either for the duration of the winter season, or they forfeit the bed by not showing up in time for the 8:00pm bed check.

If anyone does not make it to the 8:00pm bed check, their belongings are gathered up and placed in plastic bags until the person comes to claim their possessions.    All available beds are tallied and reassigned  to those waiting outside the gate, hoping to get a bed.

The first night I waited outside at the gate was this past Sunday.   On that evening 3 women and 9 men waited.   There were no open beds for that night, everyone was sent away.   I have gone to the gate each night since.  Each night there are even more people waiting in hopes of a bed.   Each night their were no beds available.

Tonight, though, 4 people did get in, 2 women and 2 men.  That is out of the 35 homeless people who waited at the gate.

I have 6 days to go before my assessment at the St Vincent de Paul center, where I think my chances of getting a permanent bed with them are very good. 

My cold symptoms are fading.  That's a good thing.   I'm tired.

It Does Happen

Last night, after my last minutes online at the McDonalds across from City College, I packed up my laptop and headed for the place where I spend the night.   A couple blocks into the walk I see a car pass me, and then abruptly stop.  Emergency flashing lights were set, and the driver got out.   I continued to approach.

As I got closer, I could tell that this car had stopped parallel to a small encampment where a couple homeless people slept on the sidewalk.  The driver walked around the car and onto the sidewalk, taking a look at the sleepers.  He then returned to the passenger side of his car, and someone handed a bag to him out the window.   By this time I had arrived on the scene.

In his hand was a large McDonalds bag.   He reached in and pulled out a couple burgers, setting two each, besides the sleeping people.  I smiled at him and continued to walk, but then I turned and asked him why he was doing that.   He didn't answer, but only said that he had more burgers to give and asked if I knew where other homeless people were.  He'd been driving around a while and hadn't seen many.    I told him that I was going to a place were more homeless were located.   He asked if I would take the rest of his burgers to those people.  I agreed.   He said his name was Pajmen.  I asked him to look for my blog.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Donate

Donations are needed and ALWAYS appreciated.
 

First Ten Days Homeless

It has now been ten days since I arrived in San Diego, with nothing more than a back pack of supplies and a few bucks in my pocket.   I came here knowing that I would be homeless from the start.  I was being evicted from my last residence, and I knew I didn't have enough resources to move into another place.  I thought of my options.   Nothing was holding me to Nashville.  I could be homeless anywhere.  Where should I go?

For the past couple years I had been reconnecting with people from my hometown of San Diego, old friends from the neighborhood and from school.  Things in San Diego that drove me away no longer have a hold on me.   I thought what it would be like to see San Diego again, this time from my own perspective, free from the dark cloud that followed me in those days.    There was potential that this time around I'd actually enjoy living here.  Though these first days have been rough, things are actually looking pretty good.

I have a plan, and a back-up plan, for getting off the streets.   And I have plans for once I'm off the streets.   Although things don't always work out they way a person would expect, there are still options available to me here, that can help me achieve my goals.    I'm not revealing those goals - not at this time - it could be one of those things that stays a "nunya bizness" thing.

For some reason I didn't think about the timing of my new homelessness.  When I arrived in San Diego, 9:30am Saturday,  it was at the start of a three day holiday weekend.   Weekends are usually bad for homeless people, worse than weekdays.  The extra holiday only makes things worse. Homelessfacilities take holidays just like everyone else, and so it happens that on holidays there are much fewer services available to the homeless.   So, being that I was new to town, and not knowing anything about San Diego's homeless services, it made for an excruciating first 3 days homeless.

As for the homeless people in San Diego, the thing I noticed almost immediately was their overall demeanor, they seem more congenial that the homeless in Nashville.  There seems to be a lot of anger and hostility brewing just under the surface within Nashville's homeless population.  So, now I'm thinking it's more a cultural thing.   (Jerry Springer got many of his show's guests from middle Tennessee.)  I assumed that all the griping, complaining, and fighting among the homeless in Nashville was just a way of venting, of relieving the stress of being homeless.   But if that is true, why is it that San Diego's homeless are noticeably more quiet and reserved?   Certainly, the homeless here have their issues, but arrested emotional development doesn't seem to be one of them.

Some years ago, I attempted to relocate to San Diego in the same mannor but it didn't go so well.  One of the big problems was the lack of free wifi. Things have changed since.  With Starbucks and McDonalds at the lead, free wifi is now the norm.  If a restaurant offers wifi, it will be free.   Thank you San Diego, there would be no blog for y'all to be reading, without it.

Twice now, I have gone to the entrance of a homeless shelter, hoping for a chance to get in and have a bed for the night, and twice I've been turned away, along with several other people.  I will go there again tonight, and each night, until I get in.   That is, until the 17th.  On that day I will go to an assessment meeting to see if I qualify for a different shelter.    I think I have a good chance of getting in there.   But, that assessment is still 10 days away.   I've got the basics.  I know what to expect, know there to go  to get the things I need.   Now it's a waiting game.  Now I'll tread water until the rescue boat comes and saves me from this asphalt rip tide.

 

Last Night's Accommodations

A quick clip.




The District


There's just something about seeing young people starting up and running their own business that really impresses me.    Usually they don't hire any employees but instead do all the work themselves.   Well, next to the one Starbucks I spend most my SB time at is a sandwich shop called "The District".    Having an early lunch there now.   Check them out at http://www.thedistrictsd.com  I had the Cold Turkey sandwich.   It had just the right amount of each ingredient.  Very tasty.  Of course they have free wifi.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts On Homelessness

If our society finds bullying to be reprehensible, why do we still treat the homeless the way we do?    We readily admit that nothing good comes from bullying, and that the victim of bullying is harmed in many ways, seen and unseen.   The insults, the disrespect, the intimidation, it always takes the victim to a bad place, a place of emotional depression, anxiety, self loathing, etc.  We know that it can even lead a person to suicide.  There is no way that the bullying of homeless people can result in anything positive.   Perhaps it's time to reevaluate our actions and our motives, and find another way to respond to homelessness.

Homeless Sweeps

A "Sweep" is when the police, and often other public employees, go into a particular area of town and remove every homeless person.  That usually also includes destroying and confiscating whatever personal possessions and structures the homeless have placed there.   The area may be just one city block, or several.  It can also be a homeless encampment.   Although, I have yet to see a true homeless "camp" in San Diego.   Seems like the entire county has been paved over, and the only place for the homeless to sleep is on concrete sidewalks.

Well, when I finally decided go to sleep for the night (at midnight), I walked to the place where I'd been sleeping since I got to town, (7th and Fst) and found it completely deserted.  For the past week, this had been my one place to sleep.  It was the first place I found to be safe enough to attempt outdoor sleeping.  There was safety in being near the other homeless people there.   Now, with absolutely no other homeless person around for several blocks, I had to find another place.  Being alone in this place would make me vulnerable to street predators, and, as well, the cops could still be checking the area to chase off any other potential sleepers.

On the off chance that the sweep occurred because I wrote about sleeping there, I will no longer divulge the locations of my sleeping places.  But the place I slept at last night is a good place, where other's are sleeping, and they were all very quiet.  I was able to sleep until 5am.

To be fair, the sweep could have happened for other reasons, perhaps a good citizen who walked by the area late at night decided to report it, or because the Chargers are playing a home game on Monday Night Football, the city decided to clean up the visible homeless, throw everyone in jail until after the game is over.    One thing is certain, it was a sweep.  And that means displacing the homeless, and making their lives more difficult still.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Obstacles in Homelessness

Sometimes the problems that lead a person to homelessness are also obstacles for people while they are homeless.   My Asperger's is often a hindrance to doing homelessness well.    Homeless people network a lot, talking to each other about where services can be found, where the problem areas of the town are for homeless people, etc.   With Asperger's, though, I have a difficult time talking to people, especially people I've never met before.   I don't often strike up conversations with strangers.   So, it takes me a lot longer to learn things that most other homeless people already know.

I had heard that a particular homeless shelter operated on a lottery system.  They house 250 people.   So, I was under the impression that the lottery was held every night, with over 250 people waiting outside the facility each night, waiting for the chance to get called in to the shelter for the night.   The thought of having to deal with that big of a crowd, kept me away from it.

Well I found out today that I had the wrong information.  The real deal is, once you get a bed in that shelter, that bed is yours for the duration, which I understand to be until April.    What they hold the lottery for is for the beds that have recently become available.    If you have been assigned a bed, but don't show up for it, then you forfeit it and your bed is given to someone else. As long as you come in every night before 8pm, then that bed is yours.  there is no lottery for you then.   If all this had been explained to me at the beginning, I would have been trying to get a bed at this shelter a lot sooner.

There are still services for the homeless that I am not aware of, all because I haven't been talking to people, to the right people, to find out more of this information.

Well, I'm staying outside again tonight. Good thoughts about abundant sleep and overcoming my cold would be appreciated.

My Left Foot

Just out of the shower, this is what my left foot looks like.  Blisters on my heel too, but I don't like to brag.

Still Sick And Homeless

Having a cold is no fun, having a cold in the summer is less fun, having a cold in the summer while you're homeless is the third level of hell.   Being exposed to the elements and sleeping outside on concrete will only make whatever illness you have that much worse.   Fearing that I could come down with Pneumonia, I tapped into my meager funds and got a room for the night - which I stayed in last night.   Night before last I got zero sleep.   The place where I was trying to sleep, (outside a salvation army office building), had become crowded.   Not only did all my coughing and sneezing and nose blowing keep me from getting sleep, it was obviously disturbing all the other people around me who were also trying to get some sleep.    Last thing I need is to get into a fight.   By about 2:30am I walked over to a 24hr Subway sandwich place, got a drink and a couple cookies and stayed there until about 5am.   There I did the one thing I knew I shouldn't have done.  I fell asleep in my chair.   One of girls working there woke me up, to tell me I wasn't allowed to sleep there.  Not only is it embarrassing, it could cause them to decide to not allow me back into the place.   And I need all the resources I can get.

Then I walked down to the Starbucks, ordered a large coffee and got online.  I eventually contacted my old high school friend and she agreed to help me with getting some things for my cold, herbal medicines, Sudafed, etc.  She took me to a Wal-Mart and I got some more socks, too.   Afterwards she dropped me off at the motel.  I spent the rest of the day resting.  Got some good sleep.  Took two showers.  When homeless I never feel completely clean and I don't like that feeling.   This morning check out was at noon.  After check out I used the motel's laundry facilities.

This cold I have seems almost like an allergy.   Tonight I really must try to get into a shelter.  We'll see how that goes.   Now I must find something to eat.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Feet Woes

So, the blisters stopped hurting.  That was a good thing.  I think a lot of that had to do with me not walking everywhere I go.   I've been learning and utilizing all the public transportation systems.

I took off my shoes last night, as I was getting ready to bed down for the night.   My socks were stained with blood.  The socks and the shoes smelled to high heaven.  Luckily I had been to the store earlier in the day, looking for body powder.  All I could find was foot powder, so I bought it.   The powder didn't mask all the smell, but it did help to dry out my feet.    And then, my feet started to crack and bleed again.   There's nothing worse than trying to walk on cracked feet - it's worse than walking on blisters.  Need to buy some socks today.  Need to do laundry today as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Getting Sick

Damn, there is nothing worse than being homeless AND sick.   I'm not sure what it is.  It's a phlegmy cough.  A hacking that goes on and on, keeping me from falling asleep.  It's a voluminous runny nose.  It's a miserable unhappiness.

Seems these symptoms are not unique to me.  I heard someone else with the same cough.   Being homeless is worse than being in a day care.  Once one person catches it, eventually everyone gets it.

I could have taken a little better care of myself, I was purposely avoiding certain situations, like getting inside somewhere, so to sleep - a shelter or rescue mission.  I may be paying the price for that now.

75% of this month is left to go, 90% of my money is already spent.  Damn.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Short Post Of Daily Recap

Today I spent a good chunk of today at the Social Security office, getting a copy of my SSI award letter.   Spent the first hour in the wrong office.    Slow moving it goes, until they get to you, and then "zoom" their done with you.   They made me a citizen of California first because California has different rates for SSI.   After I got that paperwork done, I carried it down to the St Vincent de Paul center.   They'll use it to determine my eligibility for their program, which I hope to get into.

I then rode the bus out to the Pacific Beach area and got online at the McDonald's there.  The ride back took a lot longer than usual.    Wrapped up the day in Starbucks after having visited the store to get some stuff for my cold.    Tomorrow at 9:30am I will have been in San Diego for the first full week.

It's Almost Routine

Bathed in the amber light of night in the city, people lay in scattered lumps, pressed up against the walls of non-descript buildings; concrete as mattress, brick planter as night stand. It's all the comforts of home for those without one. A stray dog barks at a man snoring. An old couple argues over the proper use of blankets. I wake and take the phone from my hip pocket to check the time. I have been asleep for 1 hour and 23 minutes. I feel the urge to urinate. But, I don't have the urge to get up, pack up all my things, put on my shoes and socks, and walk the 8 city blocks to the public bathroom. Not right now, anyway.  My other hip, the one I'm laying on, hurts. I adjust my position but it doesn't help. My calves cramp up because I'm too tight in the fetal position. I am laying on a short blanket and trying to keep my whole body on it. I've seen those homeless poeple who are covered in filth. I don't want to be one of those.  The blanket is my only protection.

I wake and check my phone. It is almost 3am. Add one more hour to the amount of sleep I've had for the night - nearly 2 and 1/2 hours. I don't feel sleepy. Maybe I'm too sleepy. The amber light from the decorative street lights is cut with flashes of blue and white.


Ignore it and it will go away - though not a healthy way to approach real life, it's a philosophy that works fairly well on the streets. I choose to sleep facing a wall with my back to the street. But at this moment I consider getting up anyway.  I look across the street to the police cruiser. Next to it is an ambulance. Evidently, someone is hurt. I don't bother to inquire. I stand up, pack up, hoist the back pack onto my shoulders, and head to the head. There are more homeless people milling about than usual.

The public restrooms, one for women, one for men, are small - one urinal, one commode, one sink. I don't know about you, but when I take a shit I prefer to not have an audience. But it can't be avoided in the public restoom. Not only is there no door to the commode, there are no walls either. I'm not a fan of seeing others shit either.  


It appears that the maximum number of people allowed in the public restroom at one time is three. When I arrive it's a packed house and i have to wait. I stand outside the door waiting for several minutes. The guy in charge finally comes out of his office and looks through the vents of the door to see what's going on inside. He then pulls out his key. But, instead of using the key in the lock, he sticks the key between the door and door jam, and releases the locking mechanizm that way. He holds the door and motions that I can go in.

Inside, there are three other men. I try to not pay attention to what the others are doing. I really don't care what they do as long as they don't try to involve me. it appears that two men are repacking their belongings, the third man is completely naked and half covered in soap suds, using the smallish sink as his source of water. Most of the water is running off him and soaking most of the floor. I've been holding it too long again. I take a long piss and walk right out. Outside, there's another guy waiting to get in. I walk the three blocks up to the 24hr Subway restaurant. I buy three sugar cookies and a diet coke. The counter girl warms up the cookies for me, in the microwave. I take a seat, pull out my laptop and write this. It is now just a few minutes short of 4:30am. Starbucks will be open by the time I get there. This Subway does not have wifi. Starbucks does.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prepare To Be Homeless

On the subject of money:

Although being homeless is no way to live - there is no good reason for being homeless - there are things that a person can do, so to do homelessness well.   And, by doing homelessness "well" I mean being homeless for the shortest period of time possible.

The most important thing you can do, is to be honest with you self about your situation.   How much money do you have?  How much money can you count on each month, each week, each day?    Has your income stopped coming?      The only thing that really matters in maintaining a home of your own is your income.    I have always hated money, I hate worrying about money, I hate that it controls so much of my life.  Still, one's ability to control his finances plays a very big role in one's life, especially if one becomes homeless.

You may be inclined to spend every penny you have on rent and utilities on the home you currently have.  But, if you know that eviction is coming, and that you can't stop it from coming, it is imperative that you create a fund for yourself to meet your  needs while homeless.   It can be expensive to be homeless, that is, if you are also making a sincere effort to get out of homelessness.

You may find yourself homeless in a strange new town, or you may find yourself homeless in your own home town.    But even if you end up homeless in your home town, most services for the homeless are located in areas of the town that you've never visited before.   You will have to learn the city, and where all the services are, as quickly as possible.    For this, the first thing you should buy with your homeless fund is a monthly bus pass.  Those will cost anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks for each month, per person.   Some cities keep all the homeless facilities in the same general location, but not all do that.   And some cities are very large, and though relatively speaking, the homeless facilities are close together, it might make things easier for getting around.

An angel blessed me with a monthly bus pass when I arrived here in San Diego.   I'd still be at square one without it.    It goes without saying that a homeless person should learn everything he can about his city of homelessness.   Not only should you locate the homeless facilities and learn what all services they provide, you should also learn the location of such things as the public libraries, post offices, police department, fire halls, grocery stores, convenient stores, public restrooms, parks, bus stations and city bus routes, etc.   Having a monthly bus pass makes learning all this stuff possible.   Travel all around the city, this information will help you now, and later on, such as when looking for a job.

It is also better to travel as light as possible.  Put your things into storage if you can afford to maintain the rent on a storage facility.  But if you don't have a renewable source of income, you should get used to the idea of forfeiting all but the most basic of personal possessions.    To avoid looking like a homeless person, carry ONLY ONE bag with you, preferably a back pack.   That means everything you own should fit well into that one back pack.   And by all means, don't over stuff your back pack.  Nothing ruins a back pack faster than the stress on the seems and zippers due to over loading it.

As far as clothing, keep only the clothes on your back and one change of pants and shirt.  A couple pairs of socks and underwear is ok.   The point is to make sure you have something to wear, while you are washing your dirty clothes.   And this is another reason to keep a stash of money for your homelessness.  Washing laundry will cost 4 or 5 dollars for a single load.   You can try washing clothing in public restroom sinks, etc, but anymore, the police and others are well aware of that trick, they keep an eye out for it, and they'll bust you if you try it.   Know this, though, if you do wash your own clothes, then keep a small but powerful hair dryer with you, they do a pretty good job of drying clothes, albeit one item at a time.

Yesterday's Adventure

I would have written this up yesterday evening, but I had a reprieve of sorts.   Now that many of the tourists are gone, and hotel rooms are no longer being priced at 500 dollars or more per night, I took some money out of my emergency fund and got myself a room for the night.  Still, it was 60 bucks - a big dent in my funds.  But oh, how good that water from the shower nozzle felt as it ran down the length of me, from my head to my toes.   I hadn't had a shower or bath in 5 days.   It is remarkable how uncomfortable it is to have the filth of 5 days coating one's skin.   Besides, I needed to be in places, like Starbucks, where other people gathered, so to get online, and I certainly didn't want to offend anyone with body odor.  Neither did I want to be pegged as homeless and perhaps lose the privilege of using their facilities.

It wasn't a perfect night's sleep but it was much better than what I have had since hitting the streets.  I feel rested and energized to keep on with this struggle.

As you may recall, I had an appointment with the St Vincent de Paul center yesterday morning, 9am.   I arrived early to make sure I didn't' miss it.   There were many other's there as well.  Some people had been in the shelter before and were giving it another try.  Some where women with children.   A couple of them were actually full time students at a near by university looking for housing while they attended school.   Those two were sent packing.

After the general orientation was over, one of the people working there approached me and said he was planning on getting me into the shelter that night, bypassing the usual process, (talk about getting my hopes up).  I guess it was obvious that I qualified for their assistance.   But then someone asked, "oh, but is he a veteran."  I told them that I served but that I had an administrative discharge and so didn't have any benefits.   That didn't seem to matter.   Because the facility accepts government funding, the government makes certain requirements of the facility.  One such requirement is that veterans go through the regular qualifying process.  So, instead of getting into the facility that night, I have to wait for another appointment in two weeks.    I think the 17th will be the soonest I can get into the facility now.

But while at the Vincent, I heard a couple people talking about "the tent".  It is a homeless shelter under a large tent.   I'd read about it online but didn't know where it was.  I found out it was near by, so I walked over to it, and talked to someone at the front gate.    I was told that they open the shelter at 7:30pm every night.  People get in on a lottery system.  As people arrive their name is put into a hat.  When it's time to open, they pull names out of the hat and those people get in for the night.   This happens each night.  If it may happen that for  4 nights in a row, a person doesn't get picked for entry, they can be put on a priority list.

Then I asked about facilities for showers, etc.  He said that the tent does have such facilities, and they can be used if you're picked to get in.  I asked about right now, if there was a place a person could go to get a shower.  He recommended that I try the Neil Good Day Center.  He told me how to get there, it wasn't far, so I walked up that way.    At the gate I asked about what I needed to do to use the facilities.  I was lead into the day room and told to stand in a particular line.   About an hour later I was called into a room, I filled out some paperwork and an ID was made that allowed me to use their facilities.  This place has showers open for a couple hours a day, five days a week.  I'm sure there will always be a line to get into the showers and I may not always get in, but I can certainly handling showering once every 3 days.

It seems that all the homeless facilities are located east of where I had been hanging out.  I think that part of town is actually called East Village.

After all of this I went to have something to eat at McDonalds.  There I looked up info for a hotel room.  The battery to my laptop died at that point, before actually reserving the room.  So, I had to walk down to the Starbucks, and then wait for an electrical outlet, all while trying to stay away from people, fearing people would be able to smell me.   Finally, I got plugged in, and reserved a room in  Travelodge on Hotel Circle south. I made a bee line for the motel.  Although it was an older building and the cost was fairly inexpensive, it was a nice place, clean, the AC cooled off the room eventually.  I was very glad to have it.