I am tired. For the past year I have been on call 24 hours a day and officially at work for at least 40 hours a week. It’s good work.
The work is rewarding. But it’s also really hard. Housing people is a complex process. That requires finding housing, connecting people to shelters, placing staff to support people being sheltered, paying bills, ordering supplies and then all that comes with case management
It is hard to tell the difference between people who are unhappily housed, unstably housed, and those who are truly homeless.
When possible, we want to help people stay in the bed that they have access to. As long as the bed is safe and has access to a door that closes and locks and the bathroom that works, it is sustainable while a person works to improve their situation.
When people don’t have access to come indoors, we try to connect them and bring them inside. That also means we asked a lot of them.
They have to commit to making changes and staying in contact with people who will hold them accountable. They have to commit to improving their income so they have better resources. They have to commit to seeking housing actively each week. And they have to commit to telling themselves the truth.
There is a certain amount of survivor’s guilt among the case managers. My instinct is to always bundle everybody up and bring them home with me. Sometimes that act of kindness hurts more than it helps.
Minding the difference between when somebody is a guest versus a tenant and when they lose their chronically homeless status with HUD is a delicate walk.
Finishing the conversation can be awkward. But helping somebody realize that they have support and options is empowering. It is the best part.
33 is a small number, but it is the number of people I have participated in getting housed since July 1.
I think that is pretty cool.
But it is also exhausting.