Homeless Services are Supposed to Help.

I love Los Angeles and admire the DPSS programs and @SheilaKuehl the BOS member for my neighborhood. After 11 years of working with and around them I have a deep appreciation for them.
So imagine how horrified I am to find out that someone has been homeless for years and has been asking the system for help but not finding any relief.

I just spoke to a mother who “timed out” of the system years ago. When she went into the game program for assistance, her worker was the woman who replaced me at Maximus in Burbank. I know this worker. I trained this worker. This worker knows what to do. 

Nevertheless, this mother was never offered the opportunity to complete her high school diploma which is a major stepping stone chords finding permanent employment or earning enough money to end the poverty of her family. She was placed in a work training program which is a wonderful step but now she has to find her own permanent employment and she is greatly hindered by the lack of educational milestones. She was also not informed of the resources available to her children to pay to get them to school while she came to work. Her small subsidized paycheck has been used to pay for hotel rooms for her family and bus fare for her children. Theoretically the County of Los Angeles would be able to help her pay for the hotel room and get her into a shelter and I’d be paying for her children’s bus fare.
I know you think this may sound excessive and entitled. You are absolutely wrong. Parrots cannot go look for work if their children do not have a safe place to be. If they don’t have a safe home we can spend time in or childcare or somebody will watch them or a school where they can be supervised and learning, a mother or father is that tied to their children. You may have noticed an employer’s do not enjoy it when your bring your family to work with you. Addressing the child care issue and transportation for children is a major step and finding employment and ending poverty for their family. It is one of the reasons I really appreciate the DPSS program.
So this mother is staying in a hotel and connect it to the local shelter which is connected to DPSS and overseen by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. My suggestion is that she contact Sheila kuehl and ask for additional assistance and review of her case.

Just talking to this Mom, I could feel how helpless she was feeling and he’ll frustrated she was. I could see how the term and she’s been and also track all the positive step she’s been making to improve her life and the lives of her children. This mother is doing everything right and somehow everything is going wrong for her. I take it personally, because if I were still a gain worker, this would not be her situation. I hope.

One More Time When Mom Was Right

Let’s talk about what not to wear.

When you have a need, and go to an office (doctor, lawyer, dentist, therapist, social service) where you expect professional assistance from an educated individual : dress to blend in with the atmosphere.

Do NOT walk into the county DPSS office in a bikini, topless, pajamas, torn sweats, etc, unless that is all you own.

Dress as the person you want others to perceive you to be.

People are shallow and although invested in your success, they tend to follow your lead. If you look like you don’t care about your situation, the professional you are visiting may not be inspired to give you more than competent service. It is like you are telling people to hold back and save their best work for someone else.

Head up, teeth brushed, hair tamed, and posture erect : prese the yourself as if you are representing the most importantperson in the world. You are-you!


That Time I Lead a Freeway Chase With a Crazy Man in My Car

This morning I was talking to one of the parents at my little kid’s school. He asked why I assumed the helicopter sound from when my Scion blew a tire was an actual helicopter – did I have a guilty conscience? Um, yes. Yes I do.

As a case manager at LMP Community I used to drive clients to appointments, to run errands, or just out for coffee. Often I did this in my own car.

Driving mentally and emotionally unstable adults carries some risk. Once, as I drove over the bridge to White Memorial, a man went to grab the steering wheel and said he could flip us off the bridge and we would tumble into the street below like an Oreo: white, and black and white and black; not as sweet.

One day I was out and about with Tommie. Long before this date I had earned his trust and respect by fixing his toes.

Can we take a moment here to bet that when Jesus was advocating washing people’s feet, none of the feet he touched had a big toenail that turned on a 90 degree angle and traversed the width of the foot? If Jesus had encountered Tommie’s feet there would have been a new book called “Eww, Gross!”

Tommie was a large and affable man with an intellect of a 5th grader, a violent temper and was a pathological liar – which is to say, he was pretty much my average client and I was very comfortable with him.

Tommie, Carl and Donald on Stanford Avenue  - part of Los Angeles's Skid Row
Tommie, Carl and Donald on Stanford Avenue – part of Los Angeles’s Skid Row

So anyway, we are on the 5 freeway when Tommie saw a Highway Patrol car and became agitated. He began ranting and frantically waving his arms while talking about how we had to “Evade the po-po” or he would be “shot by a firing squad” because he was a Vietnam deserter. He was sweating and look authentically scared.  In what became the very last time I let anyone ride in my passenger seat, Tommie grabbed the wheel and we wobbled out of our lane – grabbing the attention of the very CHP he wanted to avoid. The CHP moved in behind my vehicle as Tommie lost his grip on reality. He started shouting that he wanted to “go out” on “his terms” and he would kill himself before being arrested again while he lunged to take control of the car. I was smacking away his hands, trying to drive, and pulling all the way to the left hand lane to the exit for 7th street. The CHP followed. I flew down the off-ramp and into a construction zone lined by big-rig trucks where I tucked my little Scion in between two large trucks and turned off the engine.

Those were three of the longest minutes of my life.

I slapped my hand over Tommie’s mouth and whispered for his to “shut it!” and threatened him if he bit me. I did not know if the CHP would care that I had to outrun them or risk death. I imagined my 11 year old daughter watching a prolonged car chase on the news and watching me drive through down town Los Angeles while eating popcorn.

Ten minutes later I restarted the car and drove across the 6th Street Bridge. The CHP was sitting on the bridge facing the direction we came from .There was no break in traffic for him to turn around and follow us. I threw up my hands while shrugging and drove directly back to the shelter where I had to run to the bathroom and wash my face.

So, yes. When I hear the flippityslap of a blown out tire, I think Police Helicopter and not “car problem” because I have outrun the authorities at least once.