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20 March 2015

Don't be a dick

I need to wrap up the story of this month's rent-- I talked about my landlord once already this week and once last fall. Landlord is unprofessional, impolite, knows nothing about this crazy concept of "customer service" and he's a (for lack of a better term) a bully. If this were the military I'd at least have the recourse of a chain of command to work with, but it's not. This was the only landlord that would rent me an apartment last fall, so I didn't have much of a choice. It was either rent from him or spend the winter sleeping outside the Computer Science building.

Here's the rest of what happened.

I called back, after work, which is for me after 0100, and left a message that I intended to pay, needed to know exactly how much I needed to pay, and that I also needed to know if he'd prefer a cashier's check.  I also let him know that I'd have whatever amount ready on the 19th (Thursday).

Landlord called that morning and left me a three minute message (voice mail cut him off after three minutes, going on about how I was not to call the office when it is closed, and that he's seen me coming and going from the apartment building in the afternoon a week or two ago, and that.... well, you get the idea.  I'm honestly not trying to be difficult with the guy. I don't talk on the phone. In my world, people email, text, and instant message (sometimes if we're physically located in the same room), and a phone call is usually the last resort in getting in touch with someone.

Anyway: landlord says that I am to call him at exactly noon the next day to set up a time to meet.

Except, he's not done. He calls back after a while, complains that the voice mail cut him off, says he had some other calls, and now wants me to call back between 1130 and 1300 or 1330 at the latest. That takes about a minute, and he spends another two minutes (until the voice mail cuts him off again at three minutes) explaining that my rent check was returned and what each late fee is for and everything else. Most important, he gives me a dollar figure for what I owe, which is the only information I really needed from the 6+ minute rant.

Wednesday morning, again after work when I have time to think and time to call, I call landlord and leave a voice mail that says I will have the cashier's check for the full amount I owe ready for him to pick up at 1300 on Thursday 3/19, and that I will need a receipt from him as a record that he received the payment from me (meaning we're all settled and cool).

On the morning of the 19th I get another call, which goes straight to voice mail because I'm a nerd and know how to set up Do Not Disturb on my phone (also, I am usually up all night and get the little sleep I do get in the morning). The VM starts with "I got your message", goes on to the usual "I asked you to call at a specific time and you didn't", and then gets to "we're on for 1300 today".

Good, right? No. He's not done. More about what happened with the bank. More about the check being returned. Then, I'm supposed expected to call him at exactly ten minutes before 1300 to confirm.

Confirm what? We're agreed on the amount I'm paying, that it needs to be a cashier's check, and that he's going to come by at 1300 to pick up the check. What else is there to confirm? At this point I'm triggered to the point where I can't see straight. I just want to give him the damn check, get my receipt, and be done with all of this so I can take a few deep breaths, recharge, and get on with life. This shouldn't be so difficult.

1300 comes, and 1300 passes. No landlord.

About 1315 I get yet another phone call from landlord, from yet another different phone number (which I don't answer, because I don't recognize the phone number). He tells me I'm a no-show because he told me to call at exactly ten minutes to 1300 and I didn't call. Before he ends the call he says "I don't know what the problem is with your communication, but you just can't communicate, I guess."

Deeeeep breath.

We've already agreed on the amount, that it's to be a cashier's check, that he's going to come to my apartment (which is in a building he owns) to pick it up, and he's going to do so at 1300. Exactly what else is there to confirm? Now I'm beyond triggered, I'm just pissed. This is stupid. I'm so anxious I'm feeling sick and he's coming up with this bullshit?

Now I have to call him back to find out what the hell is going on. This won't be fun (and it wasn't). The conversation quickly becomes him shouting at me through the phone, at which I'm shouting back "I HAVE A CASHIER'S CHECK IN MY HAND, MADE OUT TO YOU, FOR THE EXACT AMOUNT YOU SAY I OWE. I AM STANDING IN MY APARTMENT, WAITING FOR YOU TO COME PICK IT UP AND PROVIDE ME WITH A RECEIPT. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE COMPLICATED PART?"

Now he says that because I didn't call him to confirm, he can't make it to come pick up the check. He lives in a suburb, so it's probably about a 20 minute drive, and he has business to conduct and doesn't have time for this. The shouting escalates. He's back on the "why don't you call me when I tell you to" thing when I remind him that I'm the one writing the check-- I'm the customer-- and if I tried to talk this way to my customers at work, I'd be fired on the spot. (Which is true.)

Yeah, he really didn't like that. It's true, though. Even if you're a landlord who drives a nice car and lives in the burbs, you're still in business and your customers are the reason you're even in business. I'm as confused at this point as I am angry. This is the fourth (out of five) landlords I've had in Madison that's had no problem treating me like shit, being consistently unprofessional, and in general being a dick.  I understand my rent was late. It's a bad thing. At this point though, I have the money to settle my account and I'm trying to give it to you. What does it matter when I call you, if you get the message? Why do I need to confirm what we've already agreed on? Take the fscking money.

Next he says he won't be able to get to my apartment for a couple of hours. He's a busy man. When I say I have another appointment that afternoon (which is also true, I have an appointment at the Vet Center, a ~30 minute walk away), he says I should just leave the cashier's check on my kitchen counter and he'll stop by and pick it up later "when he has time".

Mofo, you had no problem getting to my apartment to put a 5-day notice on my door last Friday (which, incidentally, included an insult that would fit right in on a fourth grade playground-- no, I'm not making this up).

This is where I repeat (trying to be calm) that I need a receipt for my payment.  Landlord takes this personally, like how dare I not trust him to come into my apartment and get the check? He does this all the time. I don't need a receipt.

Yes, I do. The more we talk, the more I need a receipt.

Finally, he says there is a maintenance guy that was in the area who can stop by and pick up the check. Landlord needs to call him to see if he can do that. Fine. I still want a receipt. I'm supposed to call Landlord back to confirm something about the maintenance guy. Whatever. Send the maintenance guy with a receipt.

The maintenance guy actually shows up not long after that. He doesn't have a receipt, says I don't need one. After I get a pen, he scrawls out a receipt on the back of a bank deposit slip from his back pocket. Why is generating a receipt so hard for a landlord that's been in business for ~40 years? In the meantime, Landlord has called again to tell me I need to confirm something with maintenance guy. When maintenance guy leaves, I call landlord and tell him we're cool, the reason I didn't call about the guy coming over to get the check was because I was talking to the guy. Finally, thankfully, that call ends. Rent is paid. I have a receipt, sort of.

Of course, I'm triggered to the point that I'm shaking. I'm standing in my apartment, but I might as well be in the Desert in the middle of the night running for my chemical warfare gear that's nowhere near as close as it needs to be because the SCUD alert is going off. It feels the same.

I actually do have a Vet Center appointment after all of this, after explaining what happened my Vet Center tells me I look exhausted. I was.

I still am, even after a night's sleep and a day has passed, because every night I have to come home to that apartment. It's bad enough that every time I come home I feel anxious, because it reminds me that I used to be homeless. Now coming home reminds me that there's a landlord who has no feelings, no remorse, towards making me feel like shit, and if anything goes wrong with my apartment I have to call that same landlord to get anything fixed. If I want to ask where my lease renewal is, I also have to call and talk to the same landlord.

Most campus apartments do lease renewals in February; after I told my landlord I intended to stay for another year, I never heard anything more about it. Maybe it's a moot point after all of this week's festivities, which is honestly up to my landlord. I'm responsible for paying my rent on time, and this month it didn't get paid on time. Once I knew what the situation was I took the necessary steps to fix it, and now my account is up to date.

All of this was so completely unnecessary. A couple of emails were all that were needed to communicate what needed to be exchanged to get paying my rent coordinated. I tried to avoid the game-- and that's what Landlord is playing, is a fucked up childish game-- up to the limits of my medication. Introversion and the effects of PTSD mean I don't go looking for crazy stimulation. I have enough, too much, of that already in the never ending movie titled Shit That Happened To Me In The Desert.

Don't be a dick. --@wilw


















16 March 2015

Respect Your Customers

I've already mentioned my current landlord, so it might help to read that post to see why I'm ranting about him again.

This month, right around the first, a couple of things went wrong. First, I didn't get a paycheck on time. Second, my disability payment was reduced considerably by an offset from my student loan servicing company. First and second added up to my rent check bouncing, which further added up to my landlord being unhappy. I can understand that-- he's running a business and he's got bills to pay, so when rent is late it makes things harder for him. I really get it.

Most people (I think) would call a tenant and say something like "Hi, this is so-and-so calling from your landlord's office. I'm calling because your rent check was returned by our bank due to insufficient funds. Because it was returned and because we were charged fees, you now owe $nnn.nn for this month. If you could let us know when payment can be made that would be great otherwise we will have to issue you a 5-day notice."

If I checked my voice mail and heard such a message, I'd know exactly what had happened, and what I needed to do to correct the problem. Shit got fucked up, and I need to figure out why and get the man a check. Okay. I would, of course, be completely triggered because something unexpectedly bad had occurred. Because it involved housing, and me being potentially homeless again, I'd probably flip the fuck out for a little while until I could tone down the PTSD response and start thinking logically about what the next step should be. It might take me a day, and I wouldn't like it, but I'd be able to call once I figured out what I was going to do and give Landlord an answer.

Instead, I got a message that went something like "Hi this is Landlord and we've got a big problem. There's a real emergency and need you to call me back right now or there's going to be big trouble. We've got a situation here and it needs to be corrected so you need to give me a call right away."

See the difference? This tells me nothing about what the problem is, only that the world is about to end and we're all going to die. The building is on fire and the parking lot just blew up and terrorists are taking over the liquor store and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are here and they want to talk to you, like yesterday.

That's what it sounds like to me, the Veteran with PTSD, anyway.

Since the message contains no useful information about what's wrong or what I need to do to fix it, it's just another trigger to me. It's the same as if you snuck up behind me without me noticing you and you tapped me on the shoulder. Very likely you'd get smacked, or at the very least I'd tell you to fuck off and I'd need some space and time to be freaked out until I could settle myself down and realize I'm not in the damn Desert and things are ok.

Landlord called me three times that day, early last week, from a couple of different numbers. I'm sure he thinks he's being smart-- if it's a number that doesn't pop up and say "Landlord - TRIGGER WARNING!!!" on my phone, I'll just go ahead and answer it. (That's really how I have him entered in my contacts list on my phone.) I don't answer any call that doesn't match a name in my contacts list, and I've followed that policy for years. So between calling me three times and then leaving a message that did nothing but make me feel anxious, I didn't call him back. Sorry. Whenever I talk to the guy, it's a long speech instead of "Dude, you owe me $. Pay the fuck up or get out."

This past Friday he called again. Several times, before he decided to finally leave a message.

"Hi this is Landlord I left you a message here about 24 hours ago for you to call me and you still have not called me. I don't want this to go on remember the last time we had this conversation. I told you if I leave you a message to call me right away and we're not having this episode that went on here if you remember shortly after you moved in. So I need you to call here today because the bookkeeper (garbled). This is very very serious. I told you yesterday. We've got an emergency here to deal with, with your situation so I need you to call me within the next hour. We're here. Otherwise she's preparing a paper. And then it's going to be severe so you need to give me a call at nnn-nnnn that's forwarded to my cellphone. This is the last time I'm calling and next I will (something something) the paper." (Total time: 1 minute, 9 seconds. Yes, I have the transcript.)

Okay. By this time I've figured out what happened with my bank and my money, and figured out what bounced and what didn't, so I'm not in the dark, but the message he left still doesn't make any sense if I haven't figured out what's happening on my own. Anyway, when I get back home around 0500 Saturday morning there's a 5-day notice taped to my door, which further says that he's going to be showing the apartment-- my apartment-- every day this week to potential new renters.

I haven't called him back yet. I will later tonight, after work, which will be after 0100. That's partly because I'm avoiding talking to him-- hopefully you can see now why I'd want to avoid talking to him directly. I've made arrangements to scrape up the money to pay the rent, plus the late fee, plus the bank fees. I won't be able to pay him until the mail arrives on Thursday, which is a day after the 5-day expires, so I'm going to have to also explain that if he does it the easy way, he can wait a day and get his money on Thursday. If he wants to do it the hard way, he can take me to court and I can give him the check at the mediation hearing at the courthouse, which will likely be one or two weeks from now. Either way, he gets paid. Either way, I've cured the debt and that makes my lease still valid.

My lease, which it should be noted, he hasn't offered to renew. He made a big deal several months ago about letting him know that I planned to renew my lease for another year, but then hasn't made it a big deal at all to get me a lease to read and sign. My previous landlords always either mailed it, or slid it under my door, or called to let me know that I should come to the office and sign it. It's very possible that I'm going to have yet another August 15 come around without a signed lease, so I'm going to need to find somewhere new to live yet again, maybe.

In any case-- current huge emergency the sky is falling OMG we're all going to die situation is handled. I'll worry about looking for a new place once the check is delivered and I have a receipt.

In a broader sense than "I'm venting and need to write to stay sane", why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is a situation that could have been handled so much differently, as it seems every situation is with this landlord. PTSD messes things up. It distorts them, and magnifies them. It's bad enough to be in danger of losing your place to live. When you've been homeless you'll do damn near anything to keep from being homeless again. PTSD makes the world seem dangerous, because you're hyperaware of everything. When someone's getting in your face, threatening you, and most of all not telling you what the fuck is the matter, the flight or fight response (which PTSD also distorts) gives your brain two options. Avoid the situation, or beat the crap out of the person causing the situation. I have, thus far, always managed to stay on the avoidance side of the coin, but I know other Veterans who would have appeared at the guy's door with a loaded shotgun to ask him just what the fuck he was trying to say.  


I'm not saying that's the right thing to do. I am saying that this is where people, Veterans and otherwise, get into trouble.



When you hear about servicemembers coming back Stateside and having trouble navigating being a civilian again, the way my landlord is acting is a perfect example of why Veterans get frustrated and pissed off. The problem is, we turn it inward and we blame ourselves, when it's really the fault of jackasses like this guy, who can't leave a simple phone message (or send an email) explaining the problem so it can be fixed. Guys like my landlord are the reason we drink, and drive too fast, and work ourselves to death, and all of the other stupid things Veterans do to try to cope with a world that just doesn't make sense much of the time. When it gets bad enough, when we've had enough encounters with people like my landlord, we decide that suicide is the only apparent answer, and we-- the entire country-- lose one of our best brothers or sisters.


















08 March 2015

Work therapy? Wait-- what?

There's too much going on that's up in the air right now-- school, work, where am I headed, where should I be headed, what's next, what should be next. Right now there are no real answers, certainly there are no easy answers. Sometimes it seems there are no answers at all.

I've been working with the Vet Center again for a while now, trying to sort some of these things out. Part of it is recovering from being homeless, part of it is recovering from being in (and being evicted from) transitional housing. Mostly it's "what the fuck do I do now?" while all of the derailed train cars that make up my life finally come to a stop.

Hopefully.

One of the things I'd asked about at the Vet Center was for help dealing with work and PTSD. I like my job and where Inwork, and they've always been accommodating when needed, but I can't do this job forever. I'm a hacker, I want to write software. That means either I find a way to take on that kind of responsibility where I am, or I look for something new. In either case, PTSD is something I have to account for and something I will likely need some accommodations for. I don't have much  experience asking for accommodations in the workplace.

Vet Center refered me to the local "Hire a Vet" guy, who wouldn't give me the time of day if I wasn't either homeless or in transitional housing. It should be noted that during my entire time in both states, no one ever mentioned that there was  employment transition assistance. Might have been nice to know about. 

Anyway, it turns out there is such a thing, and there are several programs under the term "Compensated Work Therapy" that give Vets a chance to get used to a real workplace with support for managing disabilities including PTSD. 

So I have something to investigate this week, while I'm trying not to be upset that no one ever mentioned this to me before.  I'm not even sure if I qualify, I have to talk to VA Hospital Mental Health (who never mentioned it before either).

-----

I'm still waiting for someone at the VA to do something about my prescription meds. Tl;dr if I take any of my pills, I'm pretty much guaranteed to be throwing up within about 30 minutes. 

My regular psychiatrist will be back in May, so it might take until then to talk to someone about getting me back on my regular psych meds. I almost don't want to be back on them-- I'd love to say I don't need them, but it's just not true. The question is how do I safely get back on them at the right doses.

-----

I did, finally, get in for a retinal screening at the VA. I'm diabetic, so that gets me seen at the eye clinic. Those guys are at least paying attention, but hopefully they'll not schedule me for anything early in the morning. Still working on convincing the VA that I'm on hacker hours and generally not alive before 10am.







20 February 2015

No one's listening anyway

I'm carrying around a lot of bad feelings about transitional housing, and I'm trying to let them go-- it's in the past, there's nothing I can do to change what happened, all of the normal things you tell yourself when you're trying to move past something bad that happened already. I have plenty of practice, both with bad things happening and moving past them, but that doesn't make it any easier. I want to solve the problem, change something so it doesn't happen again, fix the issue. How can it be that I started out sleeping in my car in a parking lot, and ended up sleeping in the same parking lot a year and a half later after being in the program that was supposed to help stabilize my life?

Part of the problem was that while in transitional housing, I stood up for myself when they were trying to feed me bullshit. They (meaning Porchlight, and the VA homeless program) are not used to veterans standing up for themselves, or so it seems-- whenever I did they took it personally, they acted threatened-- like, how dare you not just lay down and do what we tell you? We have a plan for dealing with broken people and you're not following it. Hate to break it to you, world of social work, all people are not the same, All veterans certainly are not the same. Your program wasn't what I needed and when you tried to shoehorn me into it, it didn't work. You're not the first to try treating me like I was everyone else, you probably won't be the last. It never works. 

Of course, if Porchlight and the VA hadn't been stepping on my rights as an individual by violating my privacy and ignoring the conditions of my disability, things would have gone a lot smoother. I wouldn't have had to talk to the VA Patient Advocate, and then the staff at Porchlight wouldn't have had to take it personally when I did.

Do I regret talking to the VA Patient Advocate? No. 

Do I regret tearing up the VA Homeless Program Manager's business card, and throwing it in the trash as I walked out of her office? No again.

Do I regret writing my Senator about the situation when Porchlight was blacklisting me while I was trying to find a place to live on my own? No again.

See a pattern here?

What I do regret-- and this is the reason that I'm having trouble letting go of the whole experience-- is that I cannot change it for other veterans. I know that I'm not the only one that's been fucked over by Porchlight. I know I'm not the only one that's had trouble with the Madison WI VA Homeless Program office.

So many veterans commit suicide every day that it's not headline news when it happens. It's a statistic. I'm lucky-- I'd already had a lot of therapy, and I was already on medication, and I'd most importantly learned a lot about being resilient before I ever became homeless. (That it didn't prevent me from becoming homeless in the first place is a subject for another discussion.) 

Someday, or maybe it's already happened, a veteran is going to end up in VA transitional housing-- a veteran like me, who doesn't take kindly to being stepped on-- and that veteran is going to see the situation as hopeless. They're going to look forward, and see a life of case managers who promise the world but don't really care. They're going to see that "charities" like Porchlight are nothing more than real estate companies getting rich collecting money from the government. They're going to see a life of being a slave to the system, and they're going to decide that suicide is the only way out of it.

When-- not if, but when it happens to someone in Porchlight's program, it's on the people who run the program. The case managers, the peer support specialists, the housing managers. It's also on the VA, the homeless program managers and the patient advocates who say they'll support veterans and then fail to step up and do what's necessary.

I can't change the system on my own. I'll tell my story to anyone who will listen, but I've been telling my story to anyone who will listen for a while now and nothing has changed. I have a life to live, so I'm putting the whole thing behind me-- or at least, I'm trying to put it behind me-- and so I'm done with it.

I'm sorry, fellow veterans. I tried. I have to move on.





09 February 2015

Thanks, Porchlight Inc of Madison WI

I've spent the past couple of hours (!) walking down memory lane-- the VA has an online portal where I can download my medical records, which includes the notes from all of my medical and psychiatric appointments. The portal also includes the notes entered by the social work person who manages the veterans homeless program in Madison, and the times I talked to the patient advocate's office about the problems I had while living at Porchlight. Her view of the situation was that everything was my doing, that I failed to participate properly in the program, and that I was just there for a free bed and a free meal.

Of course. It had to be that, because that explains why I kept working at my job, and put so much energy into taking online classes for no credit to get prepared to go back to college. It explains why I went back to college, both to better myself and to learn what I need to get a job so I can support myself. It explains why, instead of doing any one of a number of other things, I decided to stay in Madison and keep fighting to make my life a better one. Freeloaders-- people who just want to suck on the government's teat-- they do that kind of thing, you know. They strive to improve themselves, they work hard, they get up and dust themselves off and try again (and again) when they fail. They stand up for themselves, too. That's what I am, one of those no good freeloading people.

Thanks for explaining that.

-----

I'm working with a new Vet Center person; she's helping me to work through some of the problems I'm having just getting through normal life things like getting bills paid and college related paperwork done, and especially things like rescheduling appointments. My brain's going so fast with all of the normal stuff, plus I'm having trouble still dealing with everything that happened with Porchlight. I had an appointment in December that I missed to do all of this, and I missed it because it was at 0930 on a morning after I'd been at work until after 0100. It's also at a satellite clinic that's about 30 minutes away by bus, and honestly I'm not that anxious to talk about diabetes and medication and all that. So I missed the appointment, and now I can't take any of my medications because I get nauseous soon after I take them-- so Vet Center person helped me by calling and getting a new appointment set up.

I stopped taking my meds-- all of them, psych drugs too-- when I started throwing them up on a regular basis. So I need to talk to my psychiatrist about the psych drugs, but she's on maternity leave. Vet Center person called to make an appointment about that too, but on the phone I got quickly triggered and didn't want to deal with it. Before making the phone calls, Vet Center person hit me with some bad news.

There's this thing called the Wisconsin GI Bill. If you entered active duty in Wisconsin and saw combat, you get to go to any state school in Wisconsin and the state picks up your tuition. It's an awesome program, but as of January 2014 it doesn't cover your tuition if your GPA is under 2.0, which mine is, considering that I failed both of my classes when I was evicted from Porchlight. I was on academic probation anyway (from 2011) when I returned-- but if I'd have done well in spring 2014, I would have been off probation by now.

No Wisconsin GI bill money for 2014 means I'm getting the bill, and it's several thousand dollars that I don't have. I'm in classes this semester, but I can't pay the tuition bill. I managed to stay in my classes this semester, but I can't register for summer or fall classes at UW, and that means that I can't bring my grade point average up at UW by taking more classes at UW (even if I did get good grade). Unless, of course, I want to take on additional student loan debt, on which I'm already defaulted so I don't know if that's even an option.

I can go back to Madison Area Technical College and take classes, and if I take the right classes the credits will count towards my bachelor's degree at UW. The kick is that UW doesn't transfer in grades, so I can ace classes from now until Judgement Day at MATC and it won't help me boost my UW GPA.

Essentially, after this semester, if I can't find a way to either take out more student loans or get a shitload of scholarships and grants, my academic career at UW is over. If I want to finish my bachelor's degree I will need to transfer to another school, and if things really do reach that point I don't have an answer for what I'll do next.

I have to be honest, things haven't gone so well for me at Wisconsin.If I transfer somewhere else (hello California!) I'll still have to find a way to pay for it, and out of state tuition will be crazy-- but it doesn't do me much good to just take random classes at MATC if I'm never going to be able to add them up to a bachelor's degree.

UW won't release my transcript if my tuition bill isn't paid, so there's that, too.

So, yes, I bailed in the middle of the phone call to the psych team at the VA hospital and just said "Fuck it, call me later and we'll set something up." Vet Center person: "You got really triggered all of sudden, what's up with that?"

Oh nothing, it's just that the very thing that kept me going through two years of being homeless, part of that time sleeping either in or outside of the very building I'm trying to earn a degree in-- the dream, finishing my comp sci degree and graduating from Wisconsin -- that dream is now essentially over.

Thanks, Porchlight.

-----

You could ask, as my Vet Center person did, why I'm so quick to bring up and blame Porchlight in all of this-- in response I'll ask "are you new here?" Homeless Program Manager could have looked into the situation when I moved out, and discovered that for the months rent didn't get paid, there was a form with my signature authorizing Porchlight to take rent money from my account every month. Case Manager neglected to take it over to the main office two blocks away, even though she's there several times a week. Porchlight Accounting took out too much money once the withdrawals started, which overdrew my account-- nothing ever was done about that.

Porchlight didn't have to call the Sheriff's Office and have a deputy visit me with a summons to vacate the premises. They could have said, "Hey, what's up with the check? We know you're getting your first Social Security Disability Payment, so we know you have the money and we don't want you back out on the street." 

No one-- not VA Homeless Program Manager, not Case Manager-- ever did anything to support my being back in college. The only time anyone ever asked about college was when Porchlight tried to claim that since I was getting money for school (I wasn't, I was getting (or at least supposed to be getting) tuition remission), Porchlight considered it income and subject to 30% being taken out to pay rent. That's what they Porchlight cared about, and VA Homeless Program Manager and Case Manager did nothing to change that.

Porchlight wasn't concerned about my well being, or finding permanent housing. No one followed up when I left Porchlight. No one cared to even make a simple phone call to see if I was okay. Instead they put a sign on the door with a policy that made sure I wouldn't ever come back looking for help.

Once I found an apartment-- on my own, by the way-- no one from the VA cared to follow up to see how I'm doing in my own place. During the entire time I was at Porchlight they wanted to run and control my life, and in VA Homeless Program Manager's final report about me she says so-- if I'd given them control of my money, none of this would have happened. Yet once I found my own place, suddenly I was 100% fine even though I'm still at risk for homelessness and still have PTSD (in fact, worse now than it was before Porchlight). If I become homeless again in 2015 I'll be considered chronically homeless. What if that happens?

VA Homeless Program Manager also mentions that I left my room without cleaning, and left stuff behind when I moved out of Porchlight. Of course I did-- a Dane County Sheriff's Deputy showed up at my door with a summons that was very clear that I was to leave the premises immediately. Had I been a dick about it I'd have been arrested on the spot. The deputy's words: "You don't have to leave right this second, but if Porchlight calls the Sheriff's Office and says they want you out right now we will have to remove you. Physically, if necessary." So yeah, I didn't stick around to clean. What would you have done? Porchlight refunded my security deposit, so my room being dirty wasn't all that big a deal, was it? (Sounds good in the report though. Nice job on that.)

Was it Porchlight's fault that I failed those classes? They'll never say so. It was a challenge for me to pass them anyway, as it is for every class I take-- PTSD makes it hard to be a successful student, which is why this blog is even here. Still, try this. Take having a disability, plus being in an environment that makes your disability harder to deal with, and then try sleeping on the street for the couple of weeks right before (and during!) your final exams. Let me know how that works for you and get back to me.

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You could also ask, "Dude, what's your end game with this stuff about Porchlight?"

Writing about this stuff gets it out of my head, because to write about it I have to think about it, organize it, arrange it. I'm trying to move on from all of this, to begin to recover from recovery. 

Maybe someone will read all of this and get the idea that "Hey, you can't make this shit up. There's gotta be some truth to what this guy is writing about", and maybe they'll tell the right person at the VA and something will get done. Nothing happened when I wrote my senator, maybe someone else will have better luck.

Finally, because my story needs to be written