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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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Start.....Part Two.

By Jueseppi

There is shame in failure. Homelessness is associated with failure. Contrary to popular belief...homelessness is not something caused by laziness or drug/alcohol abuse or mental illness ALONE! there are many mitigating circumstances that lead to becoming homeless.

I left off yesterday with the idea that not allowing us clients of the Willis Dady to linger inside the shelter all day, everyday, might be a good idea. Some homeless are content to lay up in a shelter and do nothing to improve their situation, but while there is a concern over the "do nothing" attitude of a small percentage of homeless, there are a huge majority who are out there all day everyday trying to improve their life. To these men and women, to do nothing, is akin to suicide. We clients are forced into the streets of CR every morning at seven AM. We are not allowed back inside until five PM,...rain, shine, snow, or below freezing temperatures.

To be fair, I do believe the rule of thumb is, if the temperature drops into single digits, then you are allowed to remain inside. But otherwise...hit the road jacks. It was very disconcerting to have to be out in the street everyday from seven AM to five PM, and believe me, there were days when you are busy jumping through all the administrative hoops to get signed up for the various services available to the indigent/homeless/poor/unemployed American. So those days pass very fast, BUT, there are so many days that find you sitting in the mall, or the library, or the local grocery store that is equipped with a prepared hot cooked foods section, you buy something to nibble on so as not to be asked to leave as a loitering idiot.

You feel that everyone who glances at you knows you're a vagrant bum with no home and you're taking up space in a business establishment. Yes, there is much shame on your person at being homeless. The bus service in CR is a joke, and being forced into the streets is bad enough but on Sundays....there is NO bus service at all. So you are faced with walking everywhere you have to go, or ride in a taxi. For me, there were three vital pieces of survival gear, a bus pass, which for $36, allows you unlimited rides on the bus system. A backpack, because you have to carry other things needed for survival on you every day all  day, including papers and forms and applications. Finally good shoes, because you are on your feet constantly.

Not every thing I write about happened to every homeless man/woman, some have cars, or friends they can crash with or hang out with during the day, some even have girlfriends/boyfriends to survive on during these impossible times. Their experiences will differ greatly from mine. Over the next few weeks, I will recount every interesting detail that happened to me, from being told I was "abusing" the system because when the system repeatedly failed me, and I took my survival into my own hands by selling my plasma for cash to stop from sleeping in the streets, I was told that was unacceptable for a "homeless man",.....to the outright lies you get told everyday by the professionals paid by the state and federal governments to assist us homeless with services.

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


  1. Jueseppi,

    it sounds like you needed inpatient treatment somewhere for depression. Taking it out on an Emergency Shelter that has to have limits for the clients, and you are a client -- user of the service is damaging not only to people's esteem of yourself but to the shelter.

    Nick Lefave

  2. Is that what it sounds like to you....Read the series again Mr. LeFave...or better yet...be homeless, then we will talk about what it sounds like.

  3. Jueseppi, I've had a rich and varied life experience and have faced many of the travails you are facing. If you are truly sincere, then I feel for you because Eastern Iowa is extremely resource poor for helping its homeless yet better than many major urban areas. And I've been on both sides of the intake desk and you have had more success than most do. So be grateful for that.