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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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Middle......Part One

By Jueseppi B.

I apologize for being absent the past few days, and not continuing my adventure. I will pick it up at the point of my attempting to get the resources that I was told were available to a homeless man. When you first become homeless in CR, you spend so much time going around to all the agencies that reportedly have resources to help you find employment, or housing. I'm here to tell you that there are several resources that are set up to help you immediately....but that most resources available are not available to you no matter what your circumstances. This is not a condemnation on those employees who are paid a wage to assist us homeless, but rather a condemnation on the local/federal government agencies that have no real effect on helping the homeless.

When you first become homeless, the immediate need is a place to sleep, in safety, and a place to think and resolve your immediate problem of no where to call home. There are only three homeless shelters in CR that take men, and to nobodies surprise, they are packed full most of the time. To fullfil my obligation to the homeless shelter staff, and do my jumping thru hoops so I could remain in the homeless shelter, I visited the following agencies on an almost weekely basis...
DHS (Department Of Human Services)
General Assistance
Iowa Works (Formerly Iowa Workforce)
Social Security Administration
HCAP (Assistance with utilities)
Linn Community Care (Doctor)
Linn Community Free Health Clinic (Doctor)
MHDD (Mental Health Department)
Prescription Assistance
23 Employment Agencies
15 Housing/Rental Agencies

This almost daily, but definite weekly, routine leaves not much time for anything else. Everyday you get disappointed by being told you are not eligible for something. Although you are homeless, unemployed and indigent....you do not automatically qualify for assistance. Not everybody who is homeless is trying to improve their situation, some like the homeless life, some are comfortable living in shelters and going from food depository to clothes closet getting free stuff. Not many, but some. These individuals make it very difficult for those who are working to get back to "normal" lives.

Here is just one incident that left me frustrated, angry and very ready to kick somebodies ass....I was nearing my exit date from the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter, the first homeless shelter I was admitted into upon becoming homeless. As I said in the very beginning, you only get 30 days to be in any of the homeless shelters before you run the risk of being kicked out into the street. I was running all over CR jumping thru the various hoops to appease the Dady Shelter, and so I asked for an extension of my exit date. I was seeing a therapist, a psychiatrist, going to group therapy three times a week, and seeing a medical doctor for my diabetes, and I enlisted all four of the heads of these departments including the director of Transitional Housing, another agency set up to "assist" us homeless folks, to appeal to the counselor of the Dady Shelter NOT to kick me to the street upon my exit date. 

This exit date arrived on the same day I received the spectacular news from the Social Security Administration that I was approved for SSI/SSDI, March 28th. Now this approval from SSA was a miracle and a blessing from God, whom I had turned my back on, but He didn't turn His back on me. I have talked to people who are fighting years, and I mean years...for their cases with SSA, as many as seven years for one man with a broken back...I was approved in 36 days. 36 days from the day I filed my claim for SSI/SSDI. Tell me that is NOT a blessing from God.

I was full of the good news and the blessing from God when I arrived at the Dady Shelter with a bucket of KFC to share with the other residents, to celebrate my good fortune and to help out those a little less fortunate than me. As I walked into the shelter, the staff member behind the desk asked me if I was there to pack up my belongings. I knew then and there that all the people who talked to this Dady Shelter Counselor, and the man who works for the state to ensure all homeless people have housing and are not in the street unless they choose to be in the street...had failed. Both "gentlemen" were too busy with other stuff to ensure me I would not be tossed out on my exit date.
I had been assured, promised even, as late as the Friday before this Monday the 28th of March, that I would NOT be out in the street....I was told I would be taken to another homeless shelter on my exit date if I was not allowed to remain in the Dady Shelter. Didn't happen.

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

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