One Month In Port Townsend

Port Townsend is a boat building, Victorian, seaside arts community that is popular with the retirement set. I’ve been here for one month and so far I have mixed feelings about it. Some people I’ve run into are outright friendly; others give me the feeling that they’re undercover racists but are too ball-less to show it. I could be wrong; wouldn’t be the first time, but that gnawing feeling one gets when one is stared at by strangers in public emporiums and other places seems to invade my thoughts negatively every so often. I’m holding out hope that, being homeless, I’m just accidentally running into the dregs of society and things will take a turn for the positive once I’m domiciled.

As far as the city proper is concerned, it is a small town so I wasn’t expecting wall to wall excitement. There are a lot of parks around, enough so that I can find places to doze off, in my car or out. They have quite a few restaurants, too. The problem here is they’re all expensive. Average meals range in price from $10 to $14 as opposed to Seattle where I’m used to $7 to $12. The two libraries I’ve been to are par for the course. Architecture here is great if you’re into that sort of thing. Crime isn’t frequent or intense here. About four to six people end up in jail every day because of crimes like drug possession, misdemeanor assaults and driving violations. I did notice an apartment complex that, while not ghetto, did seem ghetto-ish from outside. It has a pretty name, too: Nor’West Village. My name is on their wait list but I hope they don’t pick me.

The beaches here are pristine, almost as if no human has ever set foot on them. That was a surprise given how people love to graffiti and litter at every opportunity. I’m still in the shelter and probably will be for the next month or two. I try to come in late and leave early as much as I can because some of the clients rub me the wrong way. There is no lack of negative personalities here, that’s for sure. Next week I’m driving down to Poulsbo to pick up my bi-pap machine; people complain a lot here about my snoring so the machine should help. So far, I’m surviving. Things could be better, things could be worse. I’ll give the city another a month or two. If things don’t start looking up I may reconsider shooting back to Seattle. We’ll see.

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Ciao, Port Townsend.

I’ve been staying in the shelter in Port Townsend for about a week. Since it’s closed during the day, I use the free time to set up my mailing address, put in several housing applications, find quiet streets to doze off in my car when I’m tired, find places to hang out during the day (The Boiler Room, the Public Library, Fort Worden State Park) and set up medical care at Jefferson Healthcare. I learned something new this week – I have sleep apnea. The residents at the shelter alerted me to my loud snoring and irregular sleeping patterns and encouraged me to have a pulmonologist check it out. It seems I might have to start sleeping with a CPAP machine due to a lower jaw that’s shorter than normal, a wider than normal neck, and narrow throat passageways which makes breathing during sleep difficult. It seems like if it’s not one thing, it’s another. So far, Port Townsend is agreeing with me. I like it here even though I’ve only been here for nine days. Like the sound outside of town says, this is an arts community. I should blend in like a flake in a snowstorm. And that would suit me just fine.

Should I Rent A Room?

I can afford to rent a room for, say, $400/month + utilities, but I’ve been reluctant to. Every time I’ve done so in the past it ended up disastrously.

Room 1: Lasted 6 months. The renter wanted “a little more” from me than I was willing to offer. When he saw I wasn’t putting out, he came up with this crazy concoction – his Polish cousin was coming to town in three days and he needed my room so I had to go. lame.

Room 2: Lasted 3 months. This were going well with my Irish roommates; suddenly, the landlord sold the house, so all us tenants had to bounce. Lame.

Room 3: Lasted 1/2 month. It was at this woman’s house. She had more rules than the Gestapo so I bounced.

Room 4: Lasted 2 1/2 months. This was at the crack motel on Beach 116th St in Far Rockaway, Queens. I had attempted suicide. Loneliness and drug abuse will do that to ya.

I’m reluctant to take a room somewhere, even if I have my own private entrance and/or bathroom, because of the plethora of rules hiding in the woodwork. People don’t tell you up front what their desires are – they’d lose potential renters that way. They simply spring the cold, hard truths on you later on, and they’re never pretty. I’m not aggressively going to hunt for a room, though. If one comes along, that’s fine, otherwise I’ll just hold out for a subsidized apartment in Port Townsend.

Speaking of PT, I was going to drive up there this morning and spend a few days, maybe sleep in the shelters or my car. They’re not as lenient about street parking as Seattle, though. Here, you can leave your car in the same spot for 72 hours. In PT, it’s 24 hours. BTW, I’m reluctant to spend the few days in PT, even though I really should, because the ferry to get there cost $15 each way. That’s pretty dear when you’re on a fixed income. If I don’t get a room soon I’ll probably go up there after I receive my laptop battery from Amazon and Jefferson County Housing Application in the mail. In other words, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday. Oh, yes. I can’t wait to be free like a bird, flying high in the (supposedly) friendly and artistic skies of PT.

The Homeless Problem

News media outlets cover the plight of the homeless in their tabloids every day, presenting to the world all kinds of statistics related to the downtrodden and un-domiciled. And, you know, when you’re in the midst and thick of it as I am, you can get pretty cynical in regards to how the government is actually working to end homelessness. Here in Seattle, the attempt is a joke. To wit:

In any jurisdiction, you call 211 for info. Their job is to steer you towards assistance. Right now, I won’t go into how ineffective they are, but after calling them up a few times, it’s pretty obvious the volunteers are clueless.

I was recently looking into CEA – Coordinated Entry for All – a system that’s supposedly in place to get people off the streets. I went so see them Thursday & Friday but was told I had to make an appointment through 211. So I called 211. They said I should try the CEA offices in the Central District because the Northgate Office I was looking into works by appointment only. Or, 211 suggests, I can always take a trip to the Redmond Public Library on Monday between 1 to 3 PM, but like the other CEA officers, I am not guaranteed to be seen because they operate on a first come first served basis. The 211 operator told me to call him back next Wednesday to see if any interview slots opened up. Now, I don’t mind sleeping in my car, but suppose i didn’t have it. Where am I to sleep for the next frigid weeks? Shelters are filled up around town and public parks kick you out from 11pm to 4am – perfect sleeping time.

The Homeless Problem is getting no better in Seattle. Maybe I should try homelessness somewhere else, like Port Townsend or Port Angeles. Now, that’s an idea.

I’m Back In Seattle Again…But Still Homeless.

Redneck Wedding

Oh, well. I guess I’ll never learn. I was pretty busy today, setting up my life in Seattle again. Gave me something to do. I also contacted a woman re: subsidized housing in Port Hadlock and Port Townsend. She’ll be sending me the application this week (I receive mail at the Ballard Food Bank) which I’ll fill out and return to her as quickly as possible. She says the wait list is around six months. Not bad. I can sleep in my car another six months. Piece of cake. Too bad the subsidized housing here in North Seattle has a wait list of, like, 2 to 5 years and beyond. Pretty ridiculous. Can you imagine the large number of people with SSI or SSDI living on the street who can easily afford a subsidized place for around $250 – $400/month? I know I’m not the only one. In any case, mentally, I feel much better than I did up in Forks. Too bad it didn’t work out there. At least I know now, first hand, what it feels like to live in a freezing cold trailer in the winter time. Man, those things are just impossible to keep warm in! And with all the loose dogs around the trailer, I was like a prisoner in my own home. And don’t even get me started on the rednecks! (Yes, I dress like them now, but it’s not like I have a durn choice!)

Bye, Forks.

Well, that didn’t take long. I told my landlady, through my realtor, that I’m not happy in Forks and wish to break my lease. She agreed; now, I can leave any time. There’s a trailer for $40K I was looking into in Port Townsend, but since I don’t qualify for a personal or home loan from my bank, I may have to end up going back to Santos Housing, the transitional shelter in Seattle I’d just left three months ago. At least I gave it a shot. Forks isn’t conducive to my mental health at all; in fact, it’s been downright depressing these past couple of months. Everything works at a snail’s pace here. The operative word is wait – wait for this, wait for that, wait for the other thing. In the meantime, you just sleep to pass the time. That’s what I did. I accomplished nothing – no writing, no blog entries, no walking. (You can’t freely walk around here because of the large amount of dogs strolling about loosely). It was costing me a fortune to stay here, too, as everything had to be paid for – electricity, gas, heat, mailbox, garbage disposal, internet, etc. I went from $405/month at Santos to about $1,000 a month here, and I was happier at Santos! Hey, at least I gave it a shot. Tomorrow, I’ll call up Santos and ask to go back. Hopefully there’s a room available. If not, I’ll just look for another transitional shelter somewhere. I’d stay in my car but it’s a bit cold for that.

Four Days In Forks

This is Day 4 of my new life in Forks,WA. It, unfortunately, hasn’t been the peaches and cream I was hoping it’d be. I know – what was I expecting? A red welcome mat? Whoo-hee! Robin’s in town! I can’t help it, but so far, I feel like I’m trespassing since I’m the only black person around. I was actually wondering if I may be the only black person in this town of 3,500. I haven’t actually asked anyone here about that, but maybe I will today. That seems like such a sensitive subject these days that I should just leave it alone.

My phone isn’t working. I have to buy a new sim card from Walmart and have Safelink Wireless activate it from their end. The problem, of course, is finding a phone to contact Safelink in the first place. Maybe I’ll just get a TracPhone from Walmart or Amazon or something. No rush. I have no one to talk to, anyway. It’s just for businesses who always request your phone number.

I also wasn’t expecting to pay out of pocket for so many things I took for granted in the big city, like waste disposal, a P.O. Box, propane, internet and electricity. I’m so fearful my bills will be high that I limit the amount of heat I use in the trailer. This can make for uncomfortable sleeping and general living, so I’ll look on Amazon later for an efficient space heater. A very, very efficient one.

Another jarring change for me, of course, is trailer living. The small road I’m on consists of four or five trailers and one or two houses.  Like a lot of roads in town, mine is in dire need of repair. I suppose since it rains and floods very often, fixing the roads is the least of the problems in a city where 21% of the population live below the poverty level.

Trailers are relatively small by nature. I have to get used to bending in the living room and bedroom, and sidling past the bathroom to get to the bedroom. Trailers are fairly narrow, too. That will definitely encourage me to keep my weight in check. I’m not really complaining about this trailer since it only costs $550/month. I just wish it wasn’t so, how should I say this, unprepared when I moved in. The washer & dryer room the last tenant annexed to the trailer leaks like a mofro when it rains; that is to say, every day. The electricity on one side of the trailer no longer works. I’ve tried fixing it, even bought and installed a new 20 amp GFCI outlet but that doesn’t help. I’m just receiving a massive surge of power which an electrician will have to look at; definitely out of my league.

Did I say it rained all four days I was here? The natives told me this is normal; in fact, it’s been light. Really? It’s been heavy by Seattle’s standards. Well, I do like constant rain – I’d better. The road I live on is called Raindrop Place, but I hope it doesn’t trigger my depression to extremely low levels. Next week I’ll look into getting a counselor and psychiatrist in town as well as look into getting my prescriptions filled.

I was thinking about getting rid of my car and opting for a scooter/moped. Thus far, I have seen none in town. This place seems like it’d be a good place for one, considering if you’re driving around town you’re only doing four or five miles at a time. Maybe it rains too much here and riding a moped would be counterproductive or dangerous. At least my insurance went down. I now only have to pay $350/year. That’s better than the $476 I was paying in Seattle.

I think, all told, my average expenses should be around $900/month – $550/rent, $200/utilities, $100/food, $50/gas. I haven’t budgeted for medical insurance yet, though. That’ll be another hit. I may end up spending around $1000/month just to live. Once my bills start coming in I’ll head on over to the human resources center to see if they can help with food, heating, etc. I’m glad I don’t spend money on washing clothes since all I own I wear. The sheets and blankets can be washed once every two or three months. I’m not that dirty a person, I hope!

Right now, I’m using the internet in the library. So far, this has been the biggest plus in this town. The hours aren’t bad, either. Mon – Thurs 10am – 7pm. Fri & Sat 10am – 6pm. Closed on Sunday. That’s pretty close to how it was in Seattle. The internet has some restrictions on it, though. I’m sure I can circumvent them, but I’ll do that some other time. I’m just glad to at least be able to reach out to the world some kind of way.

I was surprised to find that the crime rate is fairly high  here in town because of drug abuse, the crimes mainly limited to car and house break-ins. No wonder there are two shelves of Guns & Ammo magazines in the local supermarket. I notice that the graduating class (avg, 55 kids) don’t go on to college that much, just 10%. Maybe the mjority go on to work in their family farms. Hopefully, it isn’t because they’re dropping out of higher education to join the drug statistics.

So, did I make the right move by moving to Forks? My intention was moving into subsidized housing here. My rent would be $405/month with all utilities included. Right now, I’m No. 35 on the list. I’ll have to wait until 35 people drop dead before I get a room. Oy! They promised live would be easy. didn’t they?