I am sitting at the Sportsman’s Lodge in SFV just by the entrance.
To my right are a handful of round dining tables with umbrellas. Resting there are women and men, leaning back and smoking. What are they smoking? Your guess is as good as mine, the air is pungent with a mix of nicotine and marijuana.
Occasionally someone skitters over to a corner and others slowly follow to engage in a transaction – something for drugs.
Laughter burbles and erupts as the table sitters watch and gossip.
Purposefully a few folks stride by – off into the world on a mission. A skinny youth with a guitar on his way to a gig, a chubby man off to work at a store, a girl on her way to teach yoga in the park.
From within the gate by the housing staff a scream of rage travels to me. An older man is yelling “I hate this place, I don’t know which one of you done did it, but on my first day you stole my watch. Every time I sit on the toilet you knock on my door. I am f***ing miserable!”
Dogs and their owners stroll by- some pups stopping and straining for the petting of the security guards.
A few folks approach me to ask if I can give them a free telephone or if I am here from the Unemployment office. When my answer is “No” they stay to chat for a few minutes before fading back to their lives.
There is an air of desperation here. In 2 months this Project Room Key site will close and folks will have nowhere to be and they will head back to the streets for the coldest part of California’s year. They have survived Covid in this location but will die of exposure and desperation.