20 November 2013

Vets House Meeting

Tonight was the biweekly vets house meeting. I normally dread these, because most of the information is the same every time. I have enough trouble concentrating as it is, and I tune out pretty quickly. They seem like a waste of time, and are usually pretty calm

Tonight was different.

I was a couple of minutes late, which I know doesn't help, but no one said anything, so no big deal. I think?

I did find out that the eviction notice I received was also given to anyone in the house that needs to pay back rent. This is how they remind residents about how much we owe- it's not an 'eviction' notice, it's more of a reminder that there's a situation that needs to be addressed.

I don't know about you, but when I see a sheet of papet that says "5 DAY NOTICE TO PAY OR LEAVE PROPERTY" on my door, I read that as an eviction notice. This is based on experience, as the last place I lived posted the same notice.

The word "eviction" has a powerful meaning to a homeless person it's the worst thing that can happen to you when you live in a shelter, because it means that someone has deemed you non-deserving of even living in a homeless shelter. It also means that your ass is going to be cold soon, because winter is just starting outside.

Wisconsin + winter + outside = freezing your ass off.

I politely interrupted, or at least I thought I was polite abit it, and asked if the notice could please be reworded a bit


Whoa, there. I was just asking. 

You know, because those "not really eviction notices" tend to trigger me and make me needlessly upset. Since it's being brought up in the house meeting I suspect that I'm not the only one that was concerned.

Heaven forbid someone stand up for themselves and ask to be treated with honesty and respect. That's all I was going to ask for-- that the notice reflect the actual situation. If you're not going to evict me, why put a public notice on my door saying you are? Also, how do I know which letters are real threats to evict me and which ones are not?

The subject of room inspections also came up. There's going to be a room inspection "soon" followed by a visit from a VA inspection team.

So, yeah, that explains why the hallways are bung painted and probably why my ass is being ridden so hard.

Not once have I ever heard that the chops busting I've been getting has anything to do with me. It's about the *staff and the program* passing inspection.

Ya know, where I work the customer is always the most important consideration. Always. Focus on what the customer needs and provide it to them to the best of your ability. 

No one that runs this program had ever said, "Hey, are you doing all right? Need to talk? Feeling ok?" It's always the program that's first.

I'm not asking to be coddled. It would help me, and probably a lot of other homeless vets, if we were made to feel that we are more important than just good inspection results.

Funny how the inspectors and I are never  formally introduced, isn't it?

Then the meeting continues. We're not  supposed to use the back door of the building unless truly necessary. This will help keep leaves out, and reduce the chance that an intruder will slip in behind you and get into the building. Also, so leaves for have to be swept up.

Thanks, dillhole. I didn't feel unsafe enough here when it took three weeks to get the front door fixed so it would actually lock. (The ongoing reason for the door not locking every spring and fall is that the temperature change warps the door frame, so the lock has to be adjusted too. Perhaps fixing the door frame would help the situation?)

I get triggered when I hear voices too close to the other side of my door. Now I have to potentially deal with intruders- and we're not allowed to have weapons. Shit. If there's a new rule, then there must be a threat, and now I have to worry about it.

I have the fear that someone I don't know will come/sneak into my room. This is a justified fear for me, ever since maintenance guy thought it was okay to work on something while I was lying in my bed naked a foot away.

Besides- the back hallway has to be swept anyway, leaves or no leaves.

Do you see the pattern here? Things that could be explained honestly and directly are instead wrapped by threats of bad things happening. 

Negative, not positive.

That there is a new rule somehow became a rant on how much worse it is at Tomah. (Tomah WI has a similar VA transitional housing program.) Look at all the extra rules you'd have to deal with. At Tomah you have to get a pass to be gone longer than four hours. You have to do things like clean hallways.  It's much worse there. You're lucky to be where you are.


Look buddy, there's nothing lucky about living in a homeless shelter. Fine, it could be worse than vets house, but that doesn't mean vets house is heaven. I don't consider myself "lucky" to be where I am. 

Especially when you're standing on a pedestal yelling down at me. Some people may need the BILLY MAYS TYPE OF SALES PITCH WHERE YOU ALWAYS SPEAK LOUDLY TO MAKE SURE OUR AUDIENCE KNOWS HOW FUCKING WONDERFUL OXYCLEAN CALL NOW!"

Progress is about getting from where you are in life to a better place, not being threatened with how much worse off you could be.

Negative before positive.

There was more about rent. The person who is responsible for handling rent is going to be at vets house every other Tuesday to set up payment agreements.

The last time she was supposed to be at vets house to talk about rent she didn't  show up. I'll believe that when I see it.

Oh, and she'll be here at 0915  those days. Tough luck if you work during the day, or are asleep then because you work nights.

I stopped even pretending to listen after that, when peer support guy played MR TOUGH LOVE with one of the other residents about rent. THIS OTHER GUY HERE CAN MANAGE HIS MONTHLY INCOME, WHY THE HELL CANT YOU?

That's why I didn't say anything more about my rent situation. I didn't want to be the recipient of a public beatdown.


The voices inside my head are telling me that I am in fact lucky to be where I am and that this is just part of the price to pay.

A few years ago, before I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was in a weekly social anxiety recovery group. One of the lessons I took from that therapy is that people who try to beat negative ratios into your head probably don't have your best interests in mind.


Finally, a note about me writing all of this down ad putting it where everyone cAn see it.  First, I have to get this stuff off my chestnut before I can do anything else. Second, I want people to know what it's like living in a homeless shelter program for veterans. Veterans who might end up in this program need to know what to expect. Maybe someone from the VA will read this and get a better picture of what's really happening. Who knows, maybe someone will read this and make some changes as a result.


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