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.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Middle......Part Duex...

By Jueseppi B.

I ended the last installment of this blog telling you all about my experience with the heads of five agencies telling me, assuring me, that I would not be in the street come my exit date from the Dady Shelter. Suffice it to say, that is exactly what would have happened if I had not been street smart enough to prepare for the worst.
It's Monday the 28th of March, and I am high on the knowledge that I have received a miracle from above in the form of being approved for SSI/SSDI in a record 36 days. That is unheard of, just ask the many, many people waiting years to be approved. I walk into the Dady shelter, only to be told to pack up and get out by that evening. I ask the staff member, after relating to her that the Dady counselor had assured me he would  find me a shelter to go to,  if she was just going to put me out into the street...her reply was, and I quote..."I guess so".

Now, blessed with a mind that works as it should from time to time, I was prepared for this to happen. I had been donating plasma to a facility and had been saving the donation money I was paid, for just such an emergency. I packed my belongings, called the cheapest  and the scummiest hotel in CR and made a reservation for one night. As I was waiting on the taxi to pick me up and take me and my bucket of KFC to this flea bag hotel.....one of the idiots who had assured me I would not be in the street, called to tell me he had arranged a bed in a shelter for me starting tomorrow. He never asked where I planned to sleep that night, nor did he offer any explanation why he lied to me about not being out in the street, and I never asked or mentioned a thing.

The taxi arrived, I loaded my two suitcases and bucket of KFC into the car and off I went to my hotel accommodations for the night. I slept on the floor to avoid the bed, which just screamed "bed bugs" into my ears. I made sure I was properly insulated against whatever might be living in the carpet, and slept a few hours till awakening and showering and shaving for the new days events. I got this bright idea to call this housing guy who dropped the ball about finding me another shelter before my exit date, and asked him for a ride to the shelter he had arranged to meet me at in a few hours. It costs me $20 taxi fare to the hotel from the Dady shelter, and I was trying to be frugal. 
What followed is all true, all accurate and all an example of why this system is seriously flawed.

Mr. Joe Zito, the housing "professional" in CR for all homeless men/women asked me where I was. I proceeded to inform him of my plight, how since he didn't follow thru on his promise to make sure I was not kicked out into the street upon my exit date from the Dady shelter, I found a way to not be sleeping last night under a bridge somewhere. Follow closely now....this is the good part....Mr. Joe Zito, then informed me, that I was taking advantage of the system. He said that no homeless man can afford a hotel room, not even for one night. He then went on to tell me I should have slept on the couch in the Dady shelter until this morning, when he had arranged a transfer for me from the Dady shelter to the Mission Of Hope Shelter (hereafter to be called MOH shelter).
he also told me my attitude was not conducive to anyone helping me.

The conversation that followed between Mr. Joe Zito and I is not printable, but that morning, he found it prudent to get to the MOH shelter way before our appointment, and set up my arrival into this new shelter, so he would not run into me, and have to look me in the eye. And possibly get his ass handed to him. Contrary to the popular belief here in Facebook among those who dislike my strong political stance, I am not a man of violence, I am not mild mannered by any stretch of the imagination but I do not resort to violence as a first means of resolving conflicts. In this case, I reverted to the basic animalistic idea of depositing my size 13 shoe as far up Mr. Joe Zito's anus as it would realistically reach.

I was admitted into the MOH shelter that morning, and that experience at this new shelter was magnificent. It was professionally run by a woman most disliked because she was all business. She was the reason this place was clean, and safe from conflict. She made sure the many rules were followed and established up front who was in charge and what she would not tolerate from the men who lived there. That was very important, because lets face facts....not every homeless person is concerned with following rules and being clean. I found all staff members of the Mission Of Hope Shelter to be fantastic in their understanding of the trials and tribulations of being homeless.
They were compassionate and understanding to a fault. I got settled into the MOH shelter and got busy living toward finding a new place to live.........

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

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