I’ve been reading in different places online that administrators, and other people in charge of eradicating homelessness, actually don’t do that because they’re making six-figure salaries, and housing the homeless would mean an end to their careers. If that’s true, what a shame. I hope some kind of outside authority investigates that, but I fear that this level of corruption could possibly lead even to the mayor’s office. Obviously, I can’t just walk into a homeless advocacy office and ask to see their numbers, their track record of placing the homeless in housing. It’s probably quite poor and they would never admit it’s just a scam. Making money off the city’s most vulnerable. Isn’t that a shame? Later on today I’ll write to some of those concerned and see what they say. In my heart I know what they’ll write will be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Maybe I won’t waste my time and just celebrate St. Patrick’s Day drinking green beer like everyone else.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
For a long time, I’ve always thought that psychiatry is a joke, a clownish affair, a profession for buffoons who couldn’t guess their way out of a paper bag. I’ve even blogged about it in the past few months, especially in relation to me. Psychiatry and psychology has failed me; pills don’t help. All they do is infuriate me and perhaps even make me crazier. I’ve also stated that, if I had a serious psychotic break in public, the only way society would know how to deal with it is put me down like a dog.
And then that’s exactly what happened this past week.
I live in the same apartment complex as Charleena Lyles, Charleena was 30 years old with four kids and the fifth on the way. Like me, Charleena was black, homeless, and suffering from mental health. In essence, she was the female version of me. She called the police Sunday morning about a burglary in her house. Words were exchanged, bullets flew, and Charleena died in the presence of three of her kids. The police had the audacity to say the kids were unharmed. Of course they were harmed. They’re psychologically fucked for life, that’s how they were harmed.
Once again, the most vulnerable of this society has been failed. Societies like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will come along, speak to the press, and say, “This tragedy could’ve been prevent.” Yeah, no shit. Can NAMI prevent it? Or any organizations that claims to assist the mentally ill? Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all they’re doing is picking up a paycheck because, guess what, their advocacy don’t mean squat in the real world. There will be another Charleena tomorrow, only this time she’ll be called Robin.
Seattle is all well and good, but frankly, now that I’m older, I want a slower pace of life, something a little more relaxing and laid back. Being on fixed income (SSDI), I’m relegated to living in buildings in neighborhoods I’m not so fond of; specifically, I’m referring to downtown Seattle. Outside of downtown, the suburbs are quite expensive. I could probably afford a studio there, but really, since I have no ties to this city, I’ve been thinking about pursuing the third act of my life in simpler surroundings.
After several days of research, I’ve decided that Forks just might be the ticket. I’ve already applied to the Peninsula Housing Authority for a one-bedroom in one of the four buildings they own there. Hopefully, because I’m disabled and homeless, that should push me near the top of their waiting list. I’m quite sure I won’t miss the noise and congestion of a big city. Since I’m no longer a musician, I don’t have to try and maintain a close relationships to the music scene, the night clubs, the concert venues, or anything related to live performance. I won’t miss the movie theaters and art museums, either. I’d say that, over the years, I’ve had my fill of all those things. Just give me a good computer and the internet and I’m all set.
Forks is a tourist town; a lot of their revenue used to come from the mills, now it comes from people chasing the “Twilight” feel. I’m not into the “Twilight” books or movies, so that element is lost on me. What I do like is that Forks, just a small town of nearly 4,000 people, contains everything I need – a food bank, restaurants, a public library, auto repair and parts shops, rivers and forests galore, internet, 24 hr convenience stores, a clothing consignment store, medical clinics as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling, NA meetings, and a college that, maybe, I might be able to tutor people in ESL, writing or GED testing. Most of all, the one-traffic-light town is small; reminds me of Woodstock, NY, a place I’d originally like to retire in but is too expensive for me. Forks is a “3 hour drive plus ferry ride” distance from here. Since I just replaced all four tires on my car and had other under-the-hood work done on my little gas-guzzling hoopdie, I’d like to drive up there to check out the place, maybe this Saturday. We’ll see.