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Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
A former homeless man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I am now back to my first love since being homeless no more, politics & racial oppression. Come join me on this adventure.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Start

By Jueseppi B.

This blog will be an account of the homeless situation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I will recount, from a journal I kept, as to MY experience while homeless in Cedar Rapids.
I became homeless on Thursday January 13th, 2011 because of a divorce. I was hospitalized from January 13th until February 14th .....Valentines Day. After being released from Mercy Hospital in CR...I walked to a homeless shelter here called the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter. I arrived at the Willis Dady toting my two suitcases of possessions and hoping they had an opening. The shelter for homeless men is set up as follows....you get 30 days to be in any one shelter, there are 3 homeless shelters in the CR area...after the 30 days are up....you have to find someplace else to go. Thats the first injustice of being homeless.

I checked in and was assigned a bed and a shelf on which to put my belongings. I also received a wash cloth, body towel and some toothpaste, a toothbrush and deodorant. I was immediately thrust into an environment of 15 other men who like me, had no place to belong. There were two bedrooms on each side of the first floor....two sets of bunk beds in each room separated by a bathroom/shower. There is also a TV room on each side and a small kitchen along with a small dinning area. This makes up the area for the homeless men.

Upstairs is the living area for single ladies and families and women with children. I never went upstairs so I have no idea of the layout. The employee area, was lavish compared to the actually areas devoted to the homeless men and women. I was able to check out the employee area on several occasions when cleaning back there....more on cleaning in a moment. The employee area has a bedroom for the staff member who is on site during the night, a conference room/table, offices for administrative staff, front desk area and restroom/shower area for staff along with a storage area. 

Each "client", as we are called, has a chore to do daily before leaving for the day. You go up to the front desk, sign up for the next mornings chore, then upon waking, before leaving the shelter, your chore must be completed. The chores are designed to keep the place clean and sanitary. More on that later as well. Food is NOT provided, except for Sunday afternoons. A religious organization, a different one each Sunday, provides a hot meal to the shelter. There is no place to cook any meals, as the kitchen is strictly off limits to us "clients". And one of the rules is no storing of food anywhere on the premises. Curfew is ten PM and lights out for bed is ten thirty PM.
Now comes the unbelievable part of being homeless in CR....we "clients" are only allowed in the homeless shelter between the hours of five PM and seven AM. Thats correct, every morning at seven AM we are kicked out into the streets of CR, not to return until five PM that evening.

There are several reasons why this is a good thing, and several reasons why is is a bad thing....

                                   To Be Continued...............


  1. A friend of mine found himself homeless for 84 days, he has a blog on his experience. Should I tell him that spiritually we are mostly homeless as we search thru this life-- many days God has allowed me to feel homeless -- many days-- a homelessness that no one sees in us.

  2. Normal life is not our life my brother God has carved and molded us-- indeed the homelessness was necessary to detach and purge what needed to go -to start the process-- it was for me but the feeling of homelessness never leaves for me never attached or rooted never comfortable and feeling like this is it--never attached in a room full of people feeling like i have a ETA somewhere love you

  3. He knows, I am sure, about spiritual homelessness since he also experienced that emotion long before his actual homelessness. But...not having a roof over your head, or a place to sleep in relaxed comfort, or a place to bathe or wash your hands before a meal...that is something that America has way too much of. Spiritual homelessness was my problem way before I lost my life.

    I can say I found them both at the same moment.

  4. The place that you thought you lost well that was not your home -- it was a place that you chose as home-- it was not anything that you lost- you were in the wrong place anyway and we tend to stay too long at that mountain because we want it to be home God moves us-- it was not your assigned seat

  5. I guess it is different for each of us. I can only talk on my individual experience, and how it affected me.

    I am not intelligent enough to debate God, or his plan for me, I have no idea why he moves as he does. I can only go with the flow.

    I love you.

  6. JB, I am so sorry you are having this awful experience, but Miss Jane is right....you will discover what is really worth holding onto and God has something better for you. Stay safe friend.

  7. Sorry to hear that you are homeless and have had a bad experience at the Willis Dady EMERGENCY Shelter. The Emergency part is important because in the homeless world that implies short-term, no frills. It sounds like you were expecting transitional housing or a group home type environment. An Emergency shelter is not that type of setting. Since you've not traveled the nation as homeless person, it can be forgiven to not know that most homeless shelters are not a 24/7 homeless person storage center.

    You're lucky that this shelter exists. If it were for James Welborn, a life long homeless man who turned his life around in the last part of his life, founding the shelter, most homeless men in Cedar Rapids would be expected to live under the bridges or tent up along side the creeks and river like in Des Moines.

    Take this opportunity that God has granted you and be grateful and climb up instead of sitting in the despair. And think before you knock a resource that many people are grateful for.

  8. I find your comments insulting, as I have lived this homelessness for 86 days, and know from within how lacking the Dady Shelter is a shit hole....and that staff are not interested one bit in helping homeless men/women accomplish what needs to be accomplished in the 30 day limit...your response will go unanswered by me in any serious nature.

    Do not speak of God to me Mr. Nick, and please never offer me you advice as how to survive...save that for your children. Dady is a shit hole of crime and despair...visit it sometime as a homeless man, and not as some uber intelligent asshole who does not comprehend what he reads.

  9. Jueseppi, glad that you know who I am because I know who you are. I can comprehend pretty well your fishing for sympathy blog. You're that guy that trots out his tale of woe to all the church ladies and puts his hat out. I've been homeless in much worse places than Cedar Rapids and your type disgusted me. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be racked up with drug dealers from all over the Midwest, but the same money that funds Willis Dady EMERGENCY Shelter also demands population percentages. And, your such an ungrateful soul, I pray to God that you don't end up homeless again when all the help runs out. Because that would suck.