Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sad Day

Very sad... my computer internet stick gasped its last this morning....I'll keep you posted asap Love to all

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Money After Bad

Saturday seems to be my day for blogging… so this week let's step out of the personal and back into the practical. I mentioned before about how my friends sometimes bring up things that I had not considered prior. One of those things is the matter of funding for shelters. As I have said before, I do NOT want to see funding to shelters increased… I want to see shelter populations decreased.
Now for the bitter truth, even if I waved a magic wand and the homeless completely disappeared, your taxes would NOT be reduced. The government would just find someplace else to spend it and I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to show up in health, welfare or education. But enough of my political cynicism. All I really want to see is more effective use of the money we are already spending. This is not a problem unique to the shelter system, so much of what we are doing in health, welfare, and education is reactive. We need to establish systems which reward results. Often clients have said to me that we don’t give them the right support and tools to get out of the shelter system, because, if there were no homeless, we would be out of a job. My response was, “Untrue… even if one client were to leave permanently there will always be some new troubled soul to take his/her place". I am starting to feel differently about that, maybe there is a grain of truth, at least at the agency level, I still believe individual workers care about client outcomes.
The province pays my current residence $95 per day per person for those who qualify and those who do not qualify stay in another harm reduction centre for a flat fee per head. Head count is the way most shelters are subsidized….in Sask it is $65 for a matt or bed + breakfast. Here 2 meals + bed $95…. Alberta under $30 per person matt/bed and meals are funded elsewhere. These shelters function under a “Harm Reduction Model so no services are offered and clients are not approached individually with options for self improvement or recovery.Wholistic shelters like the DI have many services on site but clients must seek out what they need. Where I am staying there isn’t even an attempt to demand basic civility from clients. This leaves them totally unequipped with the skills necessary to co-exist in society, much less land and keep either a job or an apartment.
If we altered the funding model so agencies were rewarded for successful outcomes perhaps we would see more helping and less wrangling of homeless people. I would propose that an agency be given a flat rate per day for each bed (50 square feet of dorm space). Providing meals and a cook would be funded separately by the number of beds per building. If they are successful in moving clients out and getting the population numbers down… the reward is more working capital in the budget. Money which could be used to purchase needed equipment, bring in tutors, and provide various upgrading initiatives. Funding would be stable and there would be incentive to give some REAL help to shelter clients.
Next time I’ll talk about affordable housing apparently there is much confusion about what this means and the costs to our society. As always I would love to hear your comments so feel free to share your thoughts with us. Anyway must go for now …have a joyous week.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mime in an invisible box.

WOW… for the first time I understand the frustration so many of our clients feel when they become homeless. I am in a shelter with the highest percentage of purely NASTY people I have ever met. The staff is great and generally displays the same profile mix as most of the other places I have visited. The shelter is small under 20clients… probably more than 1/3 displaying BPD (borderline personality disorder) traits. These women are self- absorbed, arrogant, angry, loud (constant screaming, name calling and swearing),confrontational bullies. This phenomenon deserves a study of its own… and I am not the person to do it. Apparently, this is the best place (homeless shelter) to stay in this city… so I am trapped in that regard.
We are required by house rules to remain silent and not engage in verbal altercations. Those of you who have known me, know that I do not seek out confrontation, yet twice in the past week I was forced into conflict to defend people who could not defend themselves from these shrews. This resulted in a minor reprimand from staff, given the obvious provocation I was not evicted. However I am very annoyed with myself for not finding another option.
Another frustration is that any kind of move requires funds which I do not have at this moment. I spend long hours looking for a job…. unlike Calgary, even the low paying jobs in this part of the country are scarce. Because of bureaucratic issues regarding residency at this shelter I can’t just pop over to another province to see how it goes there.
I hope that by living this experience I will be able to develop some coping skills, which I will one day be able to share with my clients. I don’t think being trapped is a feeling exclusive to the homeless; some people get trapped by good paying jobs, mortgages, or lifestyles which need to be supported. The great joy of having little is it requires a minimum of sacrifice to change your life in whatever direction you want to try next. It is those with much and those with nothing who get TRAPPED in their lives. This is the first time, both in my life and on this journey that I have felt truly trapped… and I hope to turn it into a growth experience. Anyway I’ll let you all know how that turns out. Have a joyous day.
P.S. still got the old internet stick picking up a signal… now it comes out of the USB port in two pieces lol.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

All that and Alligators too

When I was little, my Granny had this story about a little kid when she was in school. The boy had drawn a picture of a man who had fallen from an tree, broke his leg, lost his food and was surrounded by alligators. The teacher's response was,"All that and alligators too". So from then on when a person was having a bad time of it, when just one too many things had gone wrong, we would say ...all that and alligators too.
Today is my day for alligators... I have had another mishap with my modem, I may have mentioned the first incident last winter. Anyway that left it a bit battered but still functional, however today it was bent in the other direction. It is now dangling haplessly from the side of my computer, I fear when I finally remove it today, it will completely fall apart and be entirely unusable. So tonight I will call my service provider and see if I can strike some kind of deal for replacement. $150 for a new modem is an alligator that I have to avoid.
As I explained a few weeks ago, I have to rethink how this journey is going to play out. Let's face it homelessness is not as popular an issue as furry little baby seals. Although, Angels of the Road has generated some curiosity, it has not generated any serious funding. In a way that is good because at the end of all this, I cannot be accused of skewing my findings to accommodate, my financial backers. See there's that silver lining thingy again LOL. On the down side I am going to have to take a hiatus from my journey to work so I can save up the $5,000 I need to cover expenses for the next year. Initially (last month at this time) I thought I could travel until November then stay with my daughter for 4 months while I worked winter response there (winter response is when most cities provide shelters with extra funding to add beds and staff during the cold weather). But, my stay in "the city with NO shelters" tapped almost all my resources. So I am applying for jobs in the area where I am currently staying, just to get bus fare to the next town. This means it will take much longer before I finish visiting all of Canada.
Last week I found a pamphlet on successful hitch-hiking I read all the instructions about how to dress and everything, the I came to rule #12 "Ladies, NEVER ever hitch hike". So to my critics who would suggest this option...sorry , can't keep blogging if I'm dead, and you know you would miss me ;-).
I don't know if you are interested in these little personal struggle missives... but it is all part of my journey. And the blog is for sharing.... Good, Bad et al. Have a joyous week... hope I can get back to you soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Round Table Discussion

Today one of my new housemates took me to a small drop-in resource centre just a couple of blocks from where we are staying. There, over coffee four of us engaged in a very lively discussion about what could be improved in this province’s system of supports for the homeless community. One of the women who, has multiple barriers to employment, sees the system and the social workers as adversaries to her attaining housing. She is very active in the community, volunteering and attending council meetings etc. She reminds me of the people I met in Vancouver’s Down Town East Side. Unfortunately, when it comes to battling The Man, she feels like a voice in the wilderness. If she were more articulate and diplomatic she might get more community support from her fellow homeless. Her causes are far reaching and could impact positively on the entire community… sadly, she only knows how to reference things as they affect her personally. That is the reason; even the longest veteran of street life has trouble getting heard by anyone with the power to make change. Hopefully as a third party observer; I will be in a position to offer broader insights (untainted by personal drama) with consideration to all stakeholders (because I have knowledge of all stakeholders positions).
The older woman at the table was more articulate and lucid in her perceptions, but she is long past wanting to be an activist. Like many women in their 50s she is too young for pension and too old to re-enter the work force with anything more than “job prospects”. Embarking on a new career is something very few of us are up to doing in mid-life (I am an exception in that way LOL). She explained how her biggest problems revolved around landlords (sudden rent hikes) and a bad credit rating. Like many low income Canadians getting through a month involves paying rent then juggling all the other bills… every late hydro or cable bill negatively impacts your credit rating. The reason one ends up with a bad credit rating is because you pay your RENT FIRST. A smart landlord would be scooping these people up and holding onto them as long as possible, since their priorities certainly fall in line with his/her own.
The young man at our table is a former addict (4 years recovered) with a GED and a criminal record. He has several very good ideas but he really needs a mentor to help direct him. He mentioned a local business man who is very open and generous with the homeless. I suggested making an effort to acquaint himself, maybe the two of them can get something happening.
Well I have to get back to the shelter I’m on lunch duty today… Have a joyous day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

a bump in the blog

Hi hope everyone is having a joyous week. Ran into some expensive glitches last week and had to move on without learning as much as would have liked about my last city. At first appearance one would think there are NO homeless there.... but social work insiders tell me different. Still a vigorous provincial government program to provide affordable and supported housing has got the numbers down to almost invisible. There is however a serious lack in services for street people. I can't go into more detail at this point because I am still working in the area.
My new location has me separated from my electronics AKKKK so blogs won't be too regular for the next little bit. take care of each other TTYL