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14 November 2013

I have to hire maids, or be thrown out of the homeless shelter.

Background: some people are messy people, and in some circumstances I'm one of them. My room at vets house is messy. You have your system of keeping track of things, I have mine.

Right now I have a large pile of laundry that needs to be washed. It remains unwashed because the laundry machines at vets house do not operate properly, and have not for at least the past few weeks. 

I like primitive camping. Washing clothes in my sink is therefore no big deal, but it's hard to do full loads of wash that way.

At the last house residents meeting, the peer support specialist said that he was aware of the problem with the washers and dryers, that he'd already sent a work order in to Porchlight. Word from them was that when the contract with the laundry service provider expired, they'd get us new machines.

When does the current contract end? No one seems to know.

Two weeks ago, at the meeting with both my case manager and the VA Transitional Housing  program manager, I mentioned that the washers and dryers did not work properly, which was part of the trouble I've had getting my room straightened up. 

When the current contract with the machine providers is up, we'll get new machines.

My room was also mentioned. It seems that there is an important inspection coming soon, and so it would be very bad for my room to be messy.

Bad for who, exactly?

Having a mental illness like #PTSD can make it hard to get things organized. Getting my room cleaned up is actually a huge source of anxiety- I have to get this done or I'll be back on the street. Back in the street- shit, more anxiety and stress, since that's how I got into this mess in the first place.

That spirals around until it's out of control and then I shut down. Two hours later I wonder what I've been doing all afternoon.

At last week's meeting with my case manager I again mentioned the washers and dryers that still don't work right. Another resident stopped by to complain about the same thing. 

Same answer-- when the current contract expires, new machine. Still, no one seems to know that will be.

It should be noted here that the meeting with my case manager was last Thursday, November 7th.

This morning at about 0045, as I was about to leave to go forage for late night food, I noticed that a letter had been slid under my door.

I'd been watching PBS, room light on, for at least three hours. Nova did a show about the JFK assassination. There was another show about Walter Cronkite and how he handled the news of the assassination. (For the record, JFK and Walter Cronkite are two men I greatly admire- but I digress). That was followed by a segment from the Ken Burns film, Dust Bowl. 

Had anyone knocked on my door, I am certain that I would have heard the knock and been triggered by it. Seeing it was one of the vets house staff, I would at least have cracked the door to see what was up.

Which brings us to the letter slid under the door.

The letter informs me that on November 5th, my room was inspected and failed. Trash here, clothes here, etc. I expected that. I've only been able to clean a little bit at a time.

The letter goes on to state that as a result, I must give my written consent to allow the Porchlight cleaning staff weekly access to my room to clean. In addition, I must pay for the service, at $15.00 per hour, and this will continue for four weeks-- after which time the cleaning crew and Porchlight will evaluate the situation provided I can prove (not stated how) that my room will remain in excellent condition.

If there was any doubt in my mind that they're trying to force me out, tonight's letter removed it.

I did some back of the envelope math. Porchlight doesn't have a "cleaning staff" that I know of- if they do, why did they hire Merry Maids to come and clean all the showers in the building last month? I can't imagine that Merry Maids makes money billing one hour at a time, so let's say two hours/week at $15/hr for what I'd have to pay=$120. They are already charging me the maximum for rent since I'm behind, so rent is $330/month.

I make about $10/hour as a student employee, and work about 15 hrs/week. Not counting taxes, that's about $600/month-$330 rent-$120 cleaning-$75 storage unit. That leaves me $135/month with which to try to pay off bills and try to recover my life.  I still have to pay taxes, so subtract whatever that amounts to.

I'm already homeless. Bleeding me for more money? Seriously?

I knew who slid the letter under my door. It was the same case manager who told me a few months ago that he was no longer going to advocate for me w/Porchlight in dealing with my back rent.

It was a little before 0100, and he's the only one here that late. That's also his M.O., leaving letters under my door as he's about to leave for the night. That way, one of the case managers during the day has to deal with the problem.

I stopped by the office, and informed him that sliding a letter like that under my door was a chickenshit move. His response, predictably, "oh, that's all Porchligjht, that's not me" and "this was the only time I could get this to you".

Funny how none of the daytime staff had tried to get in touch with me today. Or that it took until just before he was going to leave to take that letter up to my room.

That's chickenshitism.

I also made the point, loudly, that if I were an alcoholic or a drug abuser, this would be a perfect reason to go out and get fucked up.

Same response. I didn't do it, not my fault, etc. Chickenshitism.

That's when I left. Me yelling wasn't going to do anything but wake other vets up.

Scroll back a ways. The room inspection was conducted on November 5th. I met with my regular case manager on November 7th, and she said nothing about this. Didn't mention cleaning staff, didn't mention me paying for cleaning staff, didn't mention the room inspection at all.

She (CM) did recommend that I get a letter from the VA hospital stating that no one should knock on my door during my sleep hours, because the Housing Manager would be by inspecting sometime soon.

HM is the same person that called a mandatory house meeting, made vets take off work, and then never showed up. She's also the same person who has yet to try to help me work out a payment plan for my back rent.

Yes. My room is a mess. I'm ashamed to admit that, and I'm ashamed to admit that the simple act of cleaning my room is something that's difficult for me to do.

I'm an adult, I'm supposed to be able to do simple shit like this, right? 

Just like I'm supposed to be able I work in any environment and do well in school,  and have normal healthy relationships with other people.

Just like I should be able to sleep without maintenance people coming into my room while I'm asleep, or case managers that are too chickenshit to advocate for me when I need help, or even ask me if I need help. 

Porchlight is supposed to be an organization that helps people get off the street. It seems that they consider pencil whipping and inspections more important than veterans who are struggling to put a life back together.

A simple "Hey, Opus, we gotta talk about your room. Something's wrong, how can we help you straighten things out?" would be appreciated.

Instead they issue an ultimatum- hire maids, even though you're homeless and broke, and even though your PTSD gets triggered terribly when strangers are in your room, or we'll evict you and drop you from the program. They will kick your worthless ass back out on the street, so they don't have to explain during an inspection why a particular veteran is having trouble with his life, while no one did anything about it.

Chickenshit move, Porchlight.













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