Sunday, September 2, 2012

Life at the Homeless Shelter (Why I Have Been on Hiatus)

Hey there everyone:
So I am going to keep this quick. Those not subscribed to my page on Google+ and Twitter may not have heard the news that I am on hiatus right now because I have been staying at a homeless mission in Oregon. This has made things very to keep things updated, especially since the recent techs that manage the computer area decided to revoke me special permission to post things to my blog -- which I how I was making so many posts at first.

Basically, staying at the mission here has been draining. I stay in a communal dorm that is basically two rows of a bunk beds two high on either side of the wall. About 150 beds per dorm room and there are three of them total. Most of the residents here are elderly and smoke so many suffer from conditions such as COPD so getting a decent sleep is near impossible because in addition to snoring of all types there is constant coughing at decibel levels I didn't think were even possible. And most are not courteous enough to get up and leave the room when there fits starts. Days end at about 21:30 or so and begin at 0:530. Some of my days begin at 04:30 because I am fortunate enough to have a job, but I don't get to go to bead early for it. And woe if you have to work a night shift, they do not let you sleep during the day. Not that you really could in the day room since there is always someone bothering you or making ridiculous amounts of noise.

The food here is in a word, awful. And not just from a culinary aspect. The food here is overcooked and lacking basic nutritional value for the most part. This would also explain the amount of sickness here as well. Since living here my own health has taken a nosedive and I attribute it in part to being malnourished. I take supplements to make up for what is missing and eat mostly what I can get on food stamps which has made things better, but not being able to really cook really stymies one's choice. On top of that, I am of vegetarian persuasion and rarely are foods here suitable in that sense and I cannot really digest meat that easily.

However, those are quite minor bitches. Poor food and no sleep are really to be expected. This is life on the "transient" side of the mission. There is another side that is called "The Program" which is designed to basically entrap people into staying at the mission so that the people that own it may profit off them while paying them next to nothing: $25 a week, somewhat better meals, a dorm room shared with just eight others, and a locker. The work is for eight hours of the day like a normal job, and six days a week. Basically, once you enter you have no time to look for a real job and are stuck. In addition, the mission does not help with employment outside of allowing people to use an upstairs computer room for an hour a day. Barely enough time for anyone with any real job experience to fill out most applications. The limitations of "the Program" are horrendous and designed to take advantage of the presence of recovering addicts and those of lesser intelligence that think they are getting their life together. The reality is that for many they get trapped in the Program or flip-flop between the two sides.

To make things worse, the mission here has stuck up a deal with the City so that it can basically be used as a spillover facility due to overcrowding at the jail. Instead of the City jail being used to house criminals, the local law enforcement has instituted a policy of placing ankle bracelets on suspects and sending them to stay at the mission. This has led to a recent influx of addicts, weirdos, and criminally violent people that mingle with both those like me who are clean and down on our luck and with our own psychos which have their own brands of crazy. In essence, it is a policy that endangers the most vulnerable.

To top all this off, even though the mission is considered a drug-free zone, the addicts are still basically allowed to come in tripped out and drunk. This is despite the rule otherwise which rarely and selectively enforced. And often without any real proof. The mission does not provide urinary analysis kits or breathalysers which are now quite inexpensive in bulk because doing so would effect their own business of basically boosting their counts of people "served". It would also empty a large portion of the available "workers" on the Program side and reduce their ability to make income through their various businesses (mostly paper recycling).

This has made what is supposed to be a safe and "Godly" place that supposed adheres to "Christian values" (by the way, did I mention that everyone here must either attend an hour long chapel or bible study, including the Program workers?) a very chaotic, noisy, and at times a dangerous place that profits unfairly off the very people it basically employs. These complaints go mostly ignored and unheard by the staff in charge, even the ones that do seem to care about the people there. This place isn't really here to help out its inhabitants and is really more in the business of helping out the City keep the homeless here off the street and out of sight. Meanwhile, no one here receives the help they really need including sick, elderly, veterans, and the mentally ill.