About Me

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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.............

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...............