Homelessness: Man’s Inhumanity to Man

by on August 6, 2012 · 52 comments

in Culture, Politics

There is no question that every political issue has at least two sides – the pros and the cons. Issues involving homelessness are no different. However, when weighing the impact of both sides of homelessness issues, often one side appears to have a greater impact upon humanity than the other. In other words, in analyzing the issues of homelessness, the sides are not necessarily even. In fact, sometimes the impact of the political decisions relating to homelessness can be cruel.

For example, there are municipal ordinances in many cities prohibiting sleeping on public land, including beaches and parks. On the positive side, these laws protect public property from overuse – an important goal so that members of these communities can continue to share open spaces. However, homeless people may experience the impact of these laws as depriving them of a legal place to sleep.

The truth is that no city of which I am aware has adequate housing/shelter beds for its homeless population. Without available housing, many homeless people remain unsheltered.

At night unsheltered homeless people need to sleep somewhere, be it on public property or private property. Sleeping on private property is prohibited by the law of trespass, therefore, it is not a legal option for homeless people.

When cities enact ordinances prohibiting the sleeping upon public land, they remove the last opportunity for unsheltered homeless people to sleep legally. The result of these ordinances is that the police are authorized to issue illegal lodging tickets upon people who are sleeping on public property but who have no other place to sleep.

Of course, sleep is essential for the physical and mental health of all human beings. Without sleep, unsheltered homeless people cannot function at optimum level. But by sleeping on public property, they may be subjected to ticketing for illegal lodging and their consequences.

So, weighing the pros and cons of municipal ordinances that prohibit sleeping on public property, we can contrast the goal of protecting public lands from overuse with the potential negatives on unsheltered human beings who will be denied a legal place to sleep. It appears to me that the negatives outweigh the positives on this issue.

A number of cities have passed municipal ordinances that prohibit the charitable giving of food. They often feel that Good Samaritans who freely distribute food are encouraging homeless people to come to these cities and may even be encouraging people to become homeless so they can receive free food.

Without free food, homeless people often go hungry and have insufficient vitamin intake thereby potentially suffering impaired physical and mental well-being. As many doctors know, starvation is one of the most challenging medical conditions for human beings. Hunger hurts.

It is my opinion that the consequences of municipal ordinances prohibiting the charitable giving of food have a more negative impact upon human beings than positive.

Recently, increasing numbers of cities are passing ordinances prohibiting the sitting on public sidewalks. Among the reasons these cities give to support the passage of these ordinances is that when homeless people so sit, they block the sidewalks.

Access to public sidewalks is obviously important, especially when walking may be a more physically and environmentally helpful activity than driving cars.

However, homeless people often have few places to sit. When going about their business, including looking for work, they may need to rest. Public chairs and benches are normally found in parks and beaches that may not be conveniently located. So, they may sit on the public sidewalk.

It seems to me that the impact of prohibiting people from sitting on public sidewalks has more negative consequences by eliminating resting places for human beings than it has positive outcomes.

In addition, there are a number of seemingly small municipal decisions that have major negative consequences upon homeless people, particularly unsheltered homeless people. Take the mid-bench bars that prohibit people from lying flat on bus benches. Often these bars go unnoticed by housed people.

However, in the past, unsheltered homeless people sometimes used these bus benches as safe places to sleep. I recall “The Women of Wilshire” – the approximately 25 unsheltered senior citizen homeless women who lived on Wilshire Boulevard from 7th to the Palisades Park in Santa Monica. At night, overhead street lights lit the bus benches and The Women of Wilshire used them as beds, hoping that sleeping in a well-lit public place would bode well for their personal safety as they slept.

With the imposition of the mid-bench bars, The Women of Wilshire were no longer able to stretch out and sleep on the bus benches.

Certainly it could be said that the mid-bench bars successfully prevented and prevent unsheltered homeless people from occupying bus benches as beds.

However, I wonder if without available adequate housing, whether denying an unsheltered homeless person some sort of place to sleep is just cruel.

Other apparently neutral decisions on the part of municipalities that can negatively impact homeless people are the cities’ landscaping choices. For example, in public parks, grassy areas have sometimes been replaced with bushes so that homeless people cannot recline, even during the day, on the grass.

Of course, there are many municipal ordinances that make great sense in that their positive consequences outweigh the negative. However, in the examples sited above, I believe that these municipal actions create an environment where homeless people are negatively impacted. And reflect man’s inhumanity to man.

I look forward to your comments.

Thank you,
Christine

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Christine Schanes

Christine Schanes, J.D., Ph.D., is a consultant and public educator in the area of homelessness. Christine is director of two departments within Nos Amis/Our Friends, Inc.: (1) the new Center for Justice and Social Compassion (www.centerforjusticeandsocialcompassion.org) and (2) Children Helping Poor and Homeless People (www.chphp.com), co-founded by Christine and her two children, Chrissy, age 8, and Patrick, age 6 over twenty years ago. Today, CHPHP is a nationally recognized educational outreach program conducted by children and teens with adult advisors that encourages direct service.
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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Anna Daniels August 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Christine, I agree with each one of your assessments on the different ordinances. They are cruel and above all they do not solve the problem of the people without shelter and homes. They do harm to all of us. When I was still working downtown, there were no public benches, except at bus stops, where I could sit and read a book on a break. It should be no surprise that people are sitting on the sidewalks- there is a lack of public benches, which is a pretty basic public amenity. I thought the ordinance on illegal lodging was struck down- the courts found that people do in fact have the right to sleep. What a novel precept!
As far as giving food or money- there is a twisted dreadful irony that we continue to give money to the rich to encourage them to work harder at the same time as we withhold money from the poor to encourage them to work harder.
I appreciate your voice Christine.

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avatar Christine Schanes August 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Hi, Anna,

Thank you for your comment.

And thank you for sharing your personal observations. I agree with you that “there is a lack of public benches, which is a pretty basic public amenity.”

In San Diego, in 2007, a settlement was reached in Spencer v. San Diego (filed in 2004) which provided that homeless people could sleep on public sideways during the night until early morning without being ticketed or arrested.

Unfortunately, this settlement was modified (read, “gutted”) in November of 2010 whereby a homeless person could be ticketed or arrested for illegal lodging if the police offered that person an available shelter bed and that person refused said bed.

Thank you for your obvious concern and compassion.

Christine

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avatar Jenn August 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Until a city is able to provide a sufficient number of *SAFE* shelters for homeless people to sit outlawing public sleeping is unconscionable. And these laws banning handing out food are absurd. We often hear the right saying that safety nets and social services should be the purview of the private sector, without the government involved. These same advocates of letting the “free market” handle our most daunting social issues are typically the same that support banning the “free market” from distributing food to those in need.

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avatar Christine Schanes August 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Hi, Jenn,

Thanks for your email.

Absolutely, “[u]ntil a city is able to rpovide a sufficient number of *SAFE* shelters for homeless people to sit outlawing public sleeping is unconscionable.” Yes, yes, yes.

Sometimes I wonder why local legislators can’t see this. Do you have a guess why?

Christine

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avatar Glen Dunzweiler August 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm

It’s all about the short term goals of people to discourage the effect of homelessness rather than building options to curb the cause of homelessness. We as communities allow ourselves to do this because we judge homeless people to be unworthy of our effort. We just want the ‘dirty losers’ away. We don’t realize that our actions only exacerbate the problem. Not providing homeless people a place to sleep, clean themselves, or eat only makes for stumbling, starving, dirty ‘zombies’ wandering our sidewalks. My city is pouring money into parks and buildings, but not homeless programs. My question is what good is a new library if you have to wade through a sea of homeless people to get to it?

The secret is that these people aren’t losers. They are people who have fallen down for one reason or another and who didn’t have a network to support them in their time of need. From there, their situation got harder and worse. We as Americans like to think of ourselves as self sufficient, but how many times do we get help from friends, family or our church? If we didn’t have that, what would happen?

Cities don’t want to become homeless magnets, so they make it harder for the homeless to be in the city in the hopes that the homeless won’t come or will go away. There’s a problem. Homeless people already there and they can’t leave. They are everywhere. I made a documentary on homelessness across the US. In every city, people said, ‘you’ve come to the right place.’

I think the key is to get rid of the judgement. The judgement doesn’t help anybody.

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avatar Christine Schanes August 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hi, Glen,

Thanks for your comment.

I agree with everything you’ve said, including and not least of which is “the key is to get rid of judgement.”

Questions for you, if you care to answer:
1. In what city do you live?
2. What’s the name of your documentary on homelessness and where can I get a copy?

Christine

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avatar Edward Padgett August 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Dear Christine,
Thank you for giving homeless Americans the limelight and bringing their plight to the awareness of your readership.

I live in a small town thirty-one miles east of Los Angeles, next to the foothills, called San Dimas. We have witnessed a surge in our homeless population from five, 15 years ago, to well over 25 today.

On Sunday’s my group travels to Skid Row Los Angeles and feed the homeless, and we never return home with any left overs, as the need is great.

Two weeks ago I recieved a comment “Ed, if you care so much for the homeless take one into you home”. My reply was met with silence as I gave the reader my address and phone number so he could meet the homeless man I brought in five months ago.

Here’s a link to photos from Skid Row: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edpadgett/sets/72157629095347201/

Best,
Edward

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avatar Christine Schanes August 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi, Edward,

Thanks for your comment. And thanks for all you do to help people in need!

Your pictures of Skid Row are very poignant. Over the years, our group, too, has served people living on Skid Row. Your pictures brought back many memories. Thank you so much for sharing your photos with me and the readership of the San Diego Free Press.

Question: What is the name of your group?

Question: Why do you think the homeless population in San Dimas has increased to over 25 people?

Questions: What do you and your group serve to homeless people on Skid Row?

Best to you,
Christine

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avatar Edward Padgett August 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Christine,
Thank you for asking, our group is called, Winning at the Race of Life, and we can be located on Facebook and the web.

I speak with as many of the homeless in San Dimas as possible, half appear to have different stages of mental impareness, and I’m not claiming to be a doctor, but it’s rather clear they think differently. The other half are dependant on alcohol or drugs and everyone has given up attempting to help them.

We serve hamburgers and a bottle of water, and add cheese is so desired.

My function is greeting everyone, I look them in the eye and ask their names as we shake hands, some seek a hug which is freely given.

I have a feeling our paths will cross Christine

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avatar Christine Schanes August 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Edward,

Thanks for letting us all know about your group in San Dimas.

And thanks for all you do to help people in need.

I do hope we meet one day. In the meantime, please keep in touch.

Christine

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avatar Steve Bassett August 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

We have probloems and I believe as Human Beings ” We Can Solve Them” First we must all know “This Could Be You or Me Homeless” You or I could get a citation from being homeless and the wrong place at the wrong time? ask yourself should we have a place to help these People who are homeless? YES we should have a place for them to stay, sleep, eat food and help them help themselves. We must give everyone a chance to make a new life for themselves, be the one who cares about them. We are not doing a good job America, we need to have more of what is needed? Then they would not be out on the street getting in trouble, were can they go? North County San Diego only has Winter Shelter? Down town SD. Full waiting list everywhere? We need more places to take in people who want to get off the streets? All the others ? the ones that don’t want help ? I can only Hope & Pray someday they will change and get the help?

Steve Bassett
Pastor /Shelter Director
Bread of Life Rescue Mission, Oceanside, Ca

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avatar Christine Schanes August 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Pastor Steve,

Thank you for your comment.

You’ve raised so many points that I’m hoping some readers out there will respond to your comment. It’s helpful, I believe, to get everyone involved.

Thank you also for all you do to help people in need.

Please stay in touch.

Christine

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avatar Jacky Vel August 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Christine, another great to-the-point article. Have you considered writing a myth buster about our homeless citizens mythical preference to peeing and pooping on the streets and in the bushes that exposes
a) why this is : limited/lack of 24/7 access, psychotic medications that cause incontinence, hostility in most commercial outlets like coffee shops etc.)
b) what the impact is to these individuals (fines, accusation of sex offences through public exposure and more dominantly ill health from unsanitary conditions, “holding it in” and generally not hydrating enough thro fear of needing to pee too frequently)
c) the public health issues (it gets washed down the storm drains and flows into the sea)

I know Girls Think Tank did some work to quantify the pee and poop for Downtown San Diego’s unsheltered community (in support of our Portland Loos proposal to the City) and would be glad to share it with you. Be well and keep up the good work!

Jacky Vel

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avatar Christine Schanes August 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Jacky,

Thank you for your comment. And we thank you and Girl’s Think Tank (GTT) for all of your work to help homeless people.

I do appreciate your suggestion that I write about the myth “about our homeless citizens mythical preference to peeing and pooping on the streets and in the bushes.”

I will write about that myth and I appreciate GTT’s work in this regard.

Please keep in touch,
Christine

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avatar mt25v34 August 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Dear Christine,

Well written article on a very complex subject. I know that I meet many different categories of homeless people. My personal experiences in ministry are certainly confirmed by the statistics as from the San Diego Point-in-Time Count. I run into kids (late teens and young adults) who rather “hang” and exploit available services rather than being responsible adults. i run into veterans who have severe PTSD that has rendered them unable to work and often paranoid about governmental agencies. Some are “comfortable” in their various addictions and wasting away. I see people who are “professionally” homeless – often holding down jobs but not able to make enough to afford housing. One of the worst categories are families who are homeless because they lost their housing through foreclosure and circumstances prevent them from obtaining permanent shelter. It galls me that in many parts of the US empty foreclosed properties exceed the local homeless population, yet I also understand that some on the streets have psychological issues that make independent responsible living under shelter less possible than fending for themselves on the streets.

When we meet the people on the street and get to know them and their stories, we realize that homelessness is much more complex than we first thought. One of the issues that increases the complexities of homelessness is the isolation that street people experience – the estrangement from the rest of society. Whatever mental or psychological health issues they may have had initially are made orders of magnitude worse when they experience isolation from the rest of society. Part of the necessary ministry to the homeless segment is establishing normal human personal relationships together with opportunities to love and be loved, and to serve (be useful/purposeful) and be served. Sadly, homelessness and hopelessness are often equated, but that is reversible with adequate ministry support.

I am most impressed by the dedication of a special police squad here in San Diego – the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). The members are compassionate and caring for the people on our streets. Unfortunately, they are few in number. Fortunately, they work together with a number of ministries. We have 29 churches and ministries cooperating in our Downtown Fellowship right now, and the HOT team is highly complementary to our efforts. Our San Diegu Rescue Mission in an anchor for homeless ministries throughout the SD region, not just in our downtown area.

I appreciate your article all the more because the homeless population lacks advocacy in the media.

John

John Townsend
Senior Pastor
MATTHEW 25:34-40 Ministries

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avatar Christine Schanes April 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Pastor Townsend,

Thank you for your comment. And thank you for all you do to help people in need.

You certainly have raised many issues about homelessness in San Diego. I sincerely hope that you will continue to read my articles and share your views.

It is my personal belief that anyone who does something good is really doing something great. Now, if we could only get each one of us to do something good, be it ever so small.

Please keep in touch,
Christine

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avatar T.Jessup April 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

My husband and I were homeless for almost two weeks a couple of years ago, but use of a shelter wasn’t an option. Why not? Because my husband is a wheelchair-dependent multiple-stroke survivor, I’m his caregiver as well as his spouse, we are childless, and there isn’t a single shelter in San Diego County that doesn’t segregateresidents by sex regardless of marital status or the need of spousal assistance by a person with a disability unless the couple has minor children with them. Naturally, no shelter provides assistance to wheelchair-dependent people who need help transferring to and from their wheelchairs, dressing, bathing, etc., either. With his health concerns, which include diabetes, hypertension, and both peripheral artery disease and coronary issues, that was a difficult time for my husband; had the weather been less temperate, it could have had dire, even lethal, consequences. He’s safely in a long-term rehabilitation facility now, and I’m facing homelessness, alone. Well, not quite alone;I have trained a small mixed-breed dog to assist me with a hidden disability. I suspect that although shelters can’t discriminate against me because I benefit from my service animal’s assistance, we still won’t be welcome – or, if we are, that the behavior of other residents would be detrimental to him (I experience considerable difficulty discouraging people from making eye contact with, verbally engaging with, directing sounds and gestures towards, and even initiating physical contact with him during normal everyday activities involving, for the most part average people; I’m reluctant to subject him to a shelter environment where these issues, and worse, could jeopardize his working ability). I’ve worked too hard for too long and love my canine assistant too much to risk undoing 18 months of training and having to rehome him due to his being unable to continue working just to get a meal and a night’s rest. I’m scheduled for an interview in a few days at a long-term shelter where, I was assured, proper service dog etiquette will be observed. Until then, we’ll just have to take our chances.

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avatar Christine Schanes April 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Hi, T. Jessup,

Thanks for your comment. Sorry it has taken me some time to respond. By now you probably know the result of your interview at a long-term shelter. If you feel comfortable, please comment with your present housing status.

I am sorry for the many challenges you have and are facing. However, I can feel the strength of character you have through your words. I know that you will make it.

Have you tried the new Connections Housing in San Diego? I don’t know how they are treating service dogs and their people. If you know, please inform me.

Please keep in touch. I’d like to see you and your dog housed.

Christine

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avatar T.Jessup April 11, 2013 at 7:08 am

I was denied that interview, actually. The woman who was supposed to conduct it told me that the program’s director had instructed her to inform me that because I have a service animal I am not eligible for assistance because dogs aren’t allowed in the shelter. I asked to surreal with the director because this policy is illegal and was tills she wouldn’t be in for two hours, them asked to leave. I returned at the stated time and met with the director, presenting her with a printout of a news story from Disabled Rights California’s Web site about a disabled person who sued after being denied access to a shelter in Los Angeles with his service animal and won a judgment against the city. First she replied that because that happened in L.A. it has no bearing here; after I pointed out that laws about access for disabled service animal partners are state and federal, not county or local, so it most certainly did, she admitted that she was unable to amend their policy and gave the phone number of the vice president of the organization in charge of the shelter program. I missed her call in response to the voicemail I left because my cellphone flatlined, but will call her first thing today.

During my wait to meet with the director (a meeting that occurred outside in a patio area instead of in her office, incidentally), I called the local chapter of Disability Rights California and, to my disbelief, was told that because my situation is an emergency, someone would call me in a couple of days (!?!). I called the non-Emergency number for the San Diego PD to ask if an officer familiar with service animal access challenges would be able to meet me at the shelter. The clerk told me she didn’t know how to find out if anyone was and suggested I call County Animal Services, as they issue California Assistance Dog tags. The Animal Services officer explained that they just issue the tag, not enforce the laws regarding its use. So I finally looked up a lawyer specializing in ADA violations, but missed his return call, too. If I can’t talk some sense into that vice president, I’ll Cal him back, too.

I’m currently staying with a friend whose cat loathes my dog and attacks him if he strays too close to her. Both animals are showing signs of stress. I want to defend my legal rights, but will likely seek shelter elsewhere for their sakes. I’ll give you an update if you’re interested. It’s beyond me how someone responsible for a huge shelter for homeless men, women, and children can be ignorant of the ADA, which was passed and signed into law almost 23 years ago.

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avatar Christine Schanes April 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi, T. Jessup,

Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that you are having such challenges getting shelter. However, I complement you for your persistence. I believe that you are educating a lot of people about the ADA and that’s a good thing.

I think that you are on the right road calling the vice president of that organization. Please let us know the results of that phone call.

And I do hope you’re able to speak with the ADA lawyer. That should be a very interesting call, too.

Please keep your persistence and, what appears to me to be, your even-handed approach to all of the people with whom you are speaking. Their ignorance is showing and hopefully they can be educated.

Just keep being civil so that there are no complaints about negative behavior so if you need to seek legal recourse, you’re in the best possible position for your case.

Please let me know what happens next.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar T.Jessup April 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Dear Christine,

The BP’s secretary called to apologize for how I was treated add offer to allow me into the extended-stay program effective this coming Wednesday. I politely told her that although I was making other arrangements, I hoped that in the future no other applicants would be denied participation due to having service animals. She assured me that they won’t and thanked me for educating them, then invited me to come to their night shelter, if necessary, until my other arrangements go into effect. As it turns out, there are no other long-term shelter programs without waiting lists that are longer than my husband’s anticipated hospital stay, so it looks like I’ll be taking her up on that for a couple of months. I could probably get into St. Vincent de Paul’s, but when literally EVERYONE with whom you speak about a place has NOTHING good to say, it gives one pause. It may even be exempt from laws requiring shelters to admit service animal teams because it receives no government funding. I’d rather just rely on night shelters, as my situation is, thankfully, temporary. I’ll start looking for a new home for my husband and me in May with a goal of moving in early June. Thanks so much for your continued concern.

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avatar T.Jessup April 11, 2013 at 7:12 am

P.S. Sorry I was in too much of a hurry to catch the many auto-select errors.

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avatar Christine Schanes April 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hi, T. Jessup,

No problem about the auto-select errors. We got your message loud and clear.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar T.Jessup April 22, 2013 at 5:15 am

Dear Christine,

Thanks to my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’m in a motel room with my service dog. Unfortunately, the stress combined with a new psych med made existing psychiatric issues worse and I’ve had some sort of breakdown. I haven’t attended church in so long that I had no hope of getting help through it, but sought it at the urging of a concerned friend after both the shelter situation and my staying with my friend were no longer options. It’s hard to know what the future will bring in my current condition. I’m going to get my medication issues reviewed later today and hope that by May I’m functional enough to seek housing for my husband and me. Thought you’d like to get an update.

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avatar Christine Schanes April 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

Hi, T. Jessup,

So sorry to hear about your medical issues. I know that you have been through a great deal. And I applaud how you have kept your wits about you in talking to all the people with whom you have spoken.

It seems to me that your church has been the most responsive to your needs. Perhaps they have an outreach program and/or a mentoring program whereby you can have a consistent support system. We all need that from time to time!

I also know that service animals are life-savers but can also create issues around housing.

My recommendation is to accept help from your church. It may turn out that you can help them by teaching them about homelessness and they can assist you until you’re firmly on your feet.

Please keep in touch.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar T.Jessup May 1, 2013 at 12:33 am

Dear Christine,

My feeling that I was having a breakdown was actually side effects from the new medication. I’m doing much better after having stopped it and been prescribed both a medication to diminish the side effects and one on which I did well for several years until my MediCal HMO was arbitrarily chosen by the State and its formulary doesn’t didn’t include that medication. With the encouragement and assistance of staff at my pharmacy, I finally changed my HMO to one that will cover it.

I’m applying for an apartment and am cautiously optimistic that I’ll be housed by the weekend. I really hope this works out because my little dog and I had a frightening encounter late Saturday night with a man dressed all in black who managed to quietly let himself into ourmotel tion. I awoke to my dog growling menacingly – a sound I’d never heard -and the sight of the man silhouetted in the doorway. Even as we made eye contact, he boldly reached for my lifeline and only valuable possession (besides my dog): my cell phone, which was charging on the dresser. I don’t know why he suited deed to word and took off after I shouted, “Put down my phone and get the hell out of my room!”, but he did. The owner/manager’s English comprehension is so poor that when I told him what happened and asked that he install a slide or chain lock, he didn’t understand. I’ve taken to wedging my cane under the doorknob. A longtime unhoused friend kindly offered to install one and will on Saturday, after which I’ll buy him lunch (though he expected no compensation).

I’ll let you know if I get the apartment. My church has provided a check for the first month’s rent, as paying both it and the deposit would have left me without food money – a situation that keeps many Social Security recipients unhoused.

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avatar Christine Schanes May 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Hi, T. Jessup,

By now I hope that you are housed. Please let me know if this is the case.

It’s wonderful that your church is helping with first month’s rent and deposit.

About food money… have you gotten food stamps (CalFresh)? You can get them at 10th and B where people get general relief (welfare). The first month you don’t need ID, but you will need to provide them with ID for a second month’s food stamps.

Please keep in touch.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar T.Jessup February 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Dear Christine,

I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you. My church helped me move to a safer motel and paid for it until I got my SSI. As far as the State is concerned, an SSI recipient doesn’t need an EBT card because their income is high enough! That’s right, getting SSI disqualifies me from getting an EBT card!! What a joke. I didn’t get the apartment I was so hoping to get because my husband and I have poor credit scores, of all things. Never mind that we’ve neither been evicted nor filed for bankruptcy, landlords now expect us to be credit-worthy! And David getting VA benefits has, ironically, made the problem worse. Landlords who rent housing with income caps will often relax requirements such as credit scores, but his VA benefits are high enough that our household income disqualifies us for low-income housing like this. This catch-22 has made finding an apartment virtually impossible. I’m hoping to convince the landlord of the SRO where we now live to rent a condo he also owns to us. If that falls through, I don’t know what I’ll do. We decided against becoming homeowners due to the unexpected, and often sizeable, expenses they face in addition to taxes and full utility costs. Please keep your fingers crossed!

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avatar Christine Schanes February 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Hi T.Jessup,

What an experience you’re having! And what a huge amount of information you’re learning. Sounds like you’re just about ready to work as a social worker helping others through the maze of bureaucratic requirements to get benefits and housing.

How about that – I mean what about getting a part-time job or a volunteer position helping at a local shelter with questions people may have about benefits and housing. Sounds like you’re ready to me!

Please know that there are many people in your position. You’ve shared your story with many people who think you are extremely courageous, so keep your spirits up! I’m one of those people, myself. Please keep in touch.

Best Wishes,
Christine

avatar Jody April 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I love your article here. I have been homeless since Feb 7 and it is very hard on the psyche. I left my partner of 14 years after enduring mental and physical abuse. I lived in parking garages, loading docks, bushes and a few shelters that I Felton’s afraid of then out in the elements. People think you can just go through a day looking for a job or if lucky enough, go to work. At the Salvation Army in San Jose to get lunch you have to line up at 11:45. Lunch is served at 12:30. Line for the lottery for a bed for the night (only 20 beds) starts at 1:30. Lottery is drawn at 2:30 and you have to be back at 3:30 for shower and dinner. If you leave after 3:30 you are banned for 3 days. This is not an option for anyone who has any ambition to get off the streets. After talking to many, they accept this as their life. I couldn’t do it. I contacted a friend in North Carolina whose ex lives here in San Diego. He purchased a bus pass for me to come down and said I could stay until I found a job and apartment. Four days into the stay I realized he and his group of friends are Heroin junkies. I left immediately and now find myself on the streets again in a new city My ex paid for me to stay in a hotel last night after my telling him how scared I was. I have grown to love this city and want to prosper here. I am going tomorrow and hopefully find a place at the Friendship hotel here in San Diego. I need to get my birth certificate and a duplicate Social Security card to gain employment. I’m praying I can do this all while I’m at the “hotel”.

I’m have an iPhone with no phone service but wifi thankfully . I have been glued to Starbucks for the past several hours looking for shelter and food. Hopefully I will not be arrested tonight or robbed! I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs so the police would have to be pretty petty to try and get me for anything. Thanks for reading!

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avatar Anna Daniels April 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Jody- it seems meaningless to write that I wish you the best, when you obviously need help getting your birth certificate , duplicate Social Security and probably a whole host of other things. I don’t know how to translate my wishes into meaningful action, except to continue to advocate for housing and the security of individuals like yourself. You are not invisible.

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avatar Jody April 22, 2013 at 6:46 am

Anna, you’re a sweetheart. Thank you for the well wishes. Tamara below offered some info that will hopefully come into fruition this week. Fingers crossed!!

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avatar T.Jessup April 22, 2013 at 4:59 am

The Neil Good Day Center staff may help you get those documents. Best regards, Tamara

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avatar Jody April 22, 2013 at 6:39 am

Tamara – you have completely brightened my cloudy morning.
I checked the site out and have since emailed Karen in hopes of
some sort of assistance. Thank you for telling me about the center!!!

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avatar T.Jessup May 1, 2013 at 12:41 am

Dear Jody,

I have been to Neil Good and Christine is 100% right! Please try again and don’t let the turkeys get you down. Let us know what happens, okay?
Love,
Tamara

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avatar Christine Schanes April 22, 2013 at 8:08 am

See, T. Jessup,

You’re helping people already!

Best to you,
Christine

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avatar Christine Schanes April 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

Hi, Jody,

Thank you for sharing your story. I know it is not easy to reveal so much about oneself. But, by sharing, I do believe that you help all of us understand what some of us are going through.

Neil Good Center does help with DMV California ID Cards. The group, Triple Cross, comes to Neil Good Center once a week and takes people to DMV and pays for their ID cards. Now it is $9 with a reduced fee voucher for a person who qualifies for general relief (GR/welfare).

Presbyterians Urban Ministries (PUM) on Market Street downtown helps with birth certificates. PUM has been making an effort to get other locations. Most churches know about PUM so you can inquire of most churches where PUM’s locations are.

Please make sure that you are getting a certified copy of your birth certificate. Certification means that it has a stamp or raised paper indicating that it directly issued by the State/Count in question. A certified copy of your birth certificate is the only kind that will be helpful to you with government agencies. There is usually an informational copy available, but it is only for your scrape book.

If you have had a Social Security card in the past, all you need is your State-issued photo ID to go to there (I believe it’s 1333 Front St.) and get a new card within 2 weeks. You are entitled to 3 new cards a year for free for a total of 10 free cards over a lifetime. You will need a mailing address to get it.

If you have not had a Social Security card in the past, you will need to supply a certified copy of your birth certificate and your State-issues photo ID. The card is free. You will need a mailing address to get it.

Please let me know how you’re doing.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar Jody April 24, 2013 at 5:25 am

I wanted to ask off of the forums but didn’t see any contact info. The information gathered here has been tremendous! I got into Friendship House which I am very grateful for! I was wondering if there are some places that serves hot meals as well as any pantries. I was also wondering about any organizations that can help with public transit. Thank you to all for the help that poured in!

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avatar Anna Daniels April 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

Jody- call 211 You can talk to people at a centralized information and referral service about all of these issues. Best wishes to you. Please continue to let us know how you are doing. Anna

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avatar Christine Schanes April 24, 2013 at 8:14 am

Hi, Jody,

I’m happy that we at the San Diego Free Press can be of assistance to you. Anna is correct – all resources of homeless people can be found through calling 211.

Also, Friendship House will have all the specific contact information, too. Just ask.

Finally, there’s always the web. Just search for the names and the contact info will pop up.

Please stay in touch. We care about you. And you’re doing great!

Christine

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avatar Jody April 30, 2013 at 11:39 am

I was just completely blew off by this guy at the Neil Good Day center for the homeless. I took the bus down there and inquired at the front table about getting some help. I’m looking pretty good today and EVERYONE there looked like your average homeless person. He tells me the services they offer are for the homeless. I lost it and said I’m fucking homeless. That took him by surprise and retracted and said sir we don’t have the resources right now. I told him this is fucking ridiculous and no wonder they are all sitting there. You guys don’t want to help people like me who are one week away from looking like these people. I’ll not shower or anything and come back. I just can’t believe that shit. I just called the Alpha Project people to find out who I can complain to.

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avatar Christine Schanes April 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hi, Jody,

I am so sorry about the frustrating experience you had at Neil Good Day Center. Everyone has a bad day and, apparently, the person at the front table was having a bad day. To tell you the truth, the person at the front table is really just security.

Calmly explain that you are homeless and you would like to get help and they will let you in.

Where you want to go is inside – go to the left after being at the front table – and talk to the person behind the desk. To your immediate left will be a sign about Triple Cross and when they take people to DMV.

There is also a listing of many service providers who come to Neil Good to help people. These are lovely people who you may really enjoy meeting.

But, please speak to the person behind the desk and explain what you need.

And please don’t let one negative experience deter you from going back.

I know that the Alpha Project has great heart and compassion for all of us – housed and unhoused people.

So, please give them a second chance. You deserve the help and it will help them to help you.

Thanks for letting us know your progress. Please keep us informed.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar Jody May 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

I won’t be going back over there. I was talking to someone regarding my situation there yesterday and they told me a lot of times they will manage to discretely turn those who don’t portray the stereotypical homeless person away for their own safety. I don’t know how true that is but I can understand their reasoning behind it because I pose a threat for harassment and possibly crime. I am still staying afloat but it’s very hard to get food here. I’ve lost more weight and starting to not feel so great. I am thinking I might move back to San Jose where hot daily meals were more easily obtainable

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avatar Christine Schanes May 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hi, Jody,

I’m sorry that you had a real challenge at Neil Good. But, I do believe that you should have felt welcome there – it’s just unfortunate that you were not welcomed.

Please let me know how you’re doing.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar Rich September 27, 2013 at 12:06 am

The problem with this discussion is people of purported concern about this issue aren’t using real language and aren’t calling a spade a spade. The true scourge in this society around this issue are arrogant, insolent, vile subhumans who cloak themselves in one attire or another to appear superior but underneath they aren’t worth a worm’s level of humanity or conscience.

I have filed a federal lawsuit against the venal ordinance in Carlsbad, CA, basically making it illegal for a homeless person to sleep in his/her RV between 2 and 5 in the morning. The judge just dismissed the entire case stating I didn’t have legal standing because I didn’t suffer any concrete damages. The list I put in the suit of damages was as long as your arm concerning assaults by cops of all types all hours of the day and night, any way they can harangue you or make your life a living hell they did and will do. That was deemed not a damage to the judge. Doesn’t matter how considerate or decent or reasonable or respectful one is of one’s surroundings and neighborhoods, you are garbage in their eyes and they wish to see you dead or in jail, period. Let’s face it, we live in a fascist state now and the courts are gung ho behind it and will find for these local governments come hell or high water.

The only answer is revolution, meaning massive boycotts, sit ins, protests, all types of resistance, and worst comes to worst, armed insurrection. Yes, it has come to that. No amount of reason, common sense, decency reaches the impetus button of these people in power because they apparently have no conscience but for those they think are deserving, usually their comrads and people with money and position already.

Happy and consiliatory talk is long since been a laughing tact; I’ve been in this game now too long to see that the naive are wasting their time trying to be nicy nice to monsters in government who just don’t give a flying #*@!* about their fellow (less moneyed/powered) man/woman.

Rich

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avatar Christine Schanes September 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hi Rich,

Thank you for your comment.

I appreciate that you filed a lawsuit about the ordinance in Carlsbad. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am sorry that the judge dismissed your case. He/she did not understand the issue. However, another judge may.

It is a crime that anyone is homeless. Anyone who contributes to homelessness is a criminal. No one should be homeless. Everyone should have a home.

I also agree with you that actions of nonviolent nature must be taken. Using violence, in my mind, is just a way to encourage more violence, so I’m not in favor of violence.

Over the years, I have participated and organized many nonviolent protests, boycotts, letter writing campaigns and demonstrations, including marches and sit-ons (the lawn at City Hall).

I think our actions have raised awareness, which is the first step in ending homelessness.

However, homelessness will only end when everyone has a home. So, I’ve offered a solution of using abandoned/under-used military bases as homes that would be available IMMEDIATELY to homeless people.

One day, I’m sure this will happen. Until then, I’m working on it.

Please stay in touch. I appreciate your voice and thoughts.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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avatar chad January 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm

The problem is fairness. If you are blocking the sidewalk in front of my home and are able to sleep there then that is unfair treatment to people who pay taxes to have a place to walk their dog and keep their children safe. Enforce the laws that are meant to keep society in check. Period.

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avatar Christine Schanes January 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Hi Chad,

I’m guessing you know that today’s homeless adults were not born homeless. They have paid taxes. They paid for the schools, roads and parks they are not allowed to be in. They’ve paid for maintenance of our beaches where I can sleep and they can’t.

Fairness? Really. The numbers don’t lie – over 80% of people were housed in the city in which they are homeless. They neither migrate to different cities for the weather nor are they allowed to partake in the social amenities that they paid taxes for. Fairness? Really.

Sorry, I’m just as tired of seeing people homeless as you. Let’s house them!

Please stay in touch.

Christine

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avatar T.Jessup January 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Hi again, Christine!
Thank you for articulating the response I was too angry to give. The saying, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” even more true of homelessness than many other social issues, and problematic attitudes like Chad’s prevent solutions from being implemented. An update : after an 18-month wait, my husband was awarded 100% disability with the VA, so we are on such sound financial footing now that we’re finally not only leaving SROs behind us but even considering becoming homeowners! Quite a change from where we were. Keep fighting the good fight.

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avatar Christine Schanes January 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Well, T. Jessup, Here is an advantage of blogging – your story is completely inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the very best.

Please stay in touch.

Christine

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avatar bob griffin February 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

yes young lady you are so right and we seniors thank you and all your helpers and partners i think with the 40%rise in rental property cost there are so greedy people with no regard for there fellow man or woman they look at us and think i dont want you to rent my place anyway you cant i priced way out of your range is making money more important than human kindness in this real world 300-400 amonth would b a sign that we do care for each other where do we find people that will step up and make us humans first God bless you all also run those real estate thieves out of our country take a mans home even if he lived there for 30 yrs not right thank you bob

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avatar Christine Schanes February 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your comment. You are a perfect example of the expression, “With age comes wisdom.”

I agree with you that our greed has caused a lot of misery in this world.

However, just the fact that you have taken the time to remind all of us about the need for kindness – well, that’s a great thing!

I hope you will keep in touch.

Best Wishes,
Christine

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