"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”" ~~~~Samuel P. Huntington

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Don't Homeless People Stay At Homeless Shelters? Lots Of Reasons... Good Reasons!

...And the Santa Cruz California Homeless 'Service' Center/River Street Shelter exhibits every single one of them.

This is not surprising if one considers the county and city of Santa Cruz never wanted a shelter program to start with, so they've done their best, with taxpayers dollars, to make it absolutely useless to anyone but exactly the cohort within the homeless population that the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Downtown (business) Association, and Take Back Santa Cruz complain about... Funny how that happens. You'd think they had created their own perception management program for vilifying the homeless.

[A little perception management for the rest of us]

Because they have. Only people who have been institutionalized, unaware they're being institutionalized, or forced by circumstances beyond their control into an institutionalized environment, would tolerate it, and many of the people mentioned, the mentally ill, drug addicts in need of substance abuse/psychological care, and sociopaths unable to integrate in a cooperative manner with the larger community of homeless, make the best 'poster people' for 'everything wrong with the homeless'.

[Thank YOU for being here James... Filmed @ SXSW 2010 in Austin, Texas.

Ask any of the literally thousands of travelers coming through Santa Cruz every year, some young and adventurous... 'roadies', some older and simply looking for work or a safe place where they won't freeze to death in the winter.

Ask them if they've been out to 'River Street'.

They'll tell you either they'd been there, but won't be again, or that they'd heard through the grapevine before they ever arrived in town that SCRCH is an out of control behavioral health unit and were warned to stay away from it.

It's disgusting that homeless 'activists' in Santa Cruz would support a facility like this... but they do.

It's NOT a 'shelter'... Or even a 'resource center'. It's a county run prison yard for drug addicts and people with' behavioral problems' who can be used by the city and business community as PR and rationale for their overall hostile attitude and often illegal (unconstitutional laws intended to target the homeless and blatantly selective enforcement of those laws) behavior towards their un-housed citizens, whom a recent survey showed a large majority of those people were working and housed in the area until unchecked redevelopment and gentrification occurred in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake . ~~Razer Ray

This post is dedicated to Logan. Panhandling and sleeping out doesn't kill people, but living simply as a young person in a world based on 'stuff' can be a killer. Even still one must pity people so poor that all they have are money and 'things'.

After my first rape, it was a homeless man who saved me. I was tucked into a bloodied ball behind a dumpster, deep in shock. Without his intervention, I would have died. He covered me and sang mumbled songs. He bathed me like a child in someone's motel room where he'd carried me. Fittingly, his name was Justus. My angel had Parkinson's and had suffered several strokes. His bladder control wasn't perfect so he smelled pretty bad, too. He talked to me of soldiers he'd seen shell-shocked in Vietnam. He prayed and sang "Amazing Grace" as I stared into space, trembling and waiting, hoping to die while he carefully dabbed my face with a washcloth. He showed me a very old picture of his daughter, a cute toddler in corn rows. He spoke of her with such love. It was then I unfroze and began to cry. If this gentle, lovely man could be discarded and dying out where no one cared what hope was there for anyone? (source)
Please Read First

As someone who has worked in homeless shelters I am very aware that the vast majority of homeless shelter workers are good people who are doing their best. I am glad that homeless shelters exist to help people without homes. However, it would be an injustice to pretend that homeless shelters in America are plentiful enough or that all of those shelters that exist are safe enough, or free from downsides.
I spent a lot of the time when I was homeless sleeping "in the rough" which is another way of saying outdoors. I've been asked a lot of times why I didn't just stay in homeless shelters. The two answers most homed people will give as to why homeless people don't use shelters is that either such people are drug users and drug use is against homeless shelter rules or that some people refuse to follow homeless shelter rules pertaining to check in and checkout.

The issue is pretty complex, but no, I was neither using drugs nor too defiant to obey homeless shelter rules. I'd like to give my reasons for sleeping in the rough and also some of the reasons I've seen other homeless people avoid shelters while exposing some common homeless shelter dangers. Some of these reasons might surprise you. I know I was shocked to discover a few myself. ~~Kylyssa
1> Homeless Shelter Hours Incompatible with Work Hours

Homeless shelters operate on rigid schedules... So do jobs!

Contrary to popular belief, many homeless people have jobs. Because check in hours for shelters are often rigid and the process of waiting in line and checking in usually takes hours, most working homeless people cannot use them. Other homeless people work evening or night hours which don't allow them to get into a shelter before curfew. People who work from nine to five usually can't use homeless shelters, either; by the time they get off work, it's usually too late for them to get in line to check into a shelter.

Another reason some homeless shelters are incompatible with having a job is that they require the shelter users to attend AA or other drug abuse rehab classes (often held during normal work hours) every day they use the shelter - whether those people have a drug or alcohol problem or not.

By the time I had a regular job, I had decided to sleep outside exclusively so this was not a problem for me.

Continue reading Why Homeless People Don't Use Shelters @ Kylyssa's Squidoo. Also see another of her articles: "What I Learned While Being Homeless" that addresses topics such as "Why I Hate The Words "The Homeless" and tips for survival if you find yourself in that situation.

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