Wealth vs Worth in 1 Picture

In “the Bible Corrected by God” God is changing the captions of the rich to “poor” and vice versa.

It was super windy in Los Angeles last night. The screen blue off of my bedroom window. As I walked across my front yard and then started trying to try to catch up with the tumbling metal Square I took a moment to realize that I was so lucky to even have a window or home. I wonder what it must have been like for the people living in their tents that have their tents try to blow away with the only wait and then grounding them down be their bodies.

Do the people who were blown about last night deserve comfort and security? I like the think that they’d you deserve those things they just can’t afford those things. And when we make a list of things are entitlements that everybody should have, I like to think that housing is one of those things that we should make if not a human right, an “American Right”.

I live in the country of the greatest innovators of the world. This is the country where the assembly line comma the modern car, light bulbs, stop signs, peanut butter, super computers, and the internet or dreamed of, created, and brought into reality. I simply don’t understand why we can’t build basic housing for everybody. A basic starter level housing even if it’s long project like rooms connected one to the other so that people have a roof and walls and access to indoor plumbing. It wouldn’t be a place where people would want to live but it would be a place where they could live and I’m starting pad to move up from or a safety net to land in. Nobody here needs to be homeless. We have a great deal of unskilled workers and an educational system which seems bent on keeping them on skills. We have Warriors returning from the Armed Forces who need something to do. Building these types of housings would keep them employed and give them skillful and gainful trades.
People who are housed are less likely to be sick and to call nine-one-one or two need to go to the emergency room or two be a burden on the taxpayers dollars. The money we would invest in simply housing people will come back to us in savings over and over again.
I live in a country where we were told to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps but we were also told to do to one another what we would want them to do to us and we called that the Golden Rule. Maybe our next step should be to put boots on our neighbors and help them pull up their bootstraps.

FAILURE . . .

Hey guys,

So we’ve been hanging out here for over a decade (if you have been here since the beginning).

When I started this in an Excalibur hotel room in Las Vegas, I was a little buzzed and talking to my friends Bonnie and Isabel. They did not understand why I spend my days on skid row when I could choose to stay in cushy Arcadia, away from poverty, bugs and drugs.

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“Billy Blade” from my Skid Row days

The answer to that is “Poverty, drugs and disease are everywhere, even hidden in plain sight in ‘nice’ neighborhoods”. There is a stigma on poverty and people don’t ask for help because asking involves revealing that status.

My goal was to tell the story of my experiences – to let my friends see the world with me as their lens.

One example is: This is “Billy”. On the surface he is smelly, scary and unpleasant. He is a “stereotypical homeless guy” with visible symptoms of mental illness and completely off-putting. The reality of Billy is that he would bake me chocolate chip cookies on his cook stove and give me audio tapes of the radio show he always wished he could host. Billy was a teen foster kid who never bonded with his parents. As an adult he was desperate for love and acceptance but could not recognize it or trust it when it was offered to him. USC has taught me that this is related to Erickson’s stages of development and attachment. Fancy theories aside, what I want this blog to do is let you know that there is more to Billy than his smell and gruff manner and the surprising number of knives he has secreted on his person are more about him feeling safe and less about your chances of being stabbed by him.

In the big picture, I worry that I have failed. Homelessness sucks and I really wanted to slide in on the ground floor of the ending of homelessness. I had dreams that the problem would be defined and solution refined and I would be an active agent of change. The reality is that homelessness keeps increasing at 12% jumps. I suck. I have not ended anything.

But I also rock. Individuals have come to my desk homeless and the last time they left my office they had homes.

A bigger scale of success is “What have you learned from Homelessinla.com?”

Homeless Veteran Services

Homeless Veteran in need of help?
Call 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838)

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. The hotline is intended to assist homeless Veterans and their families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers  and others in the community.  To be connected with a trained VA staff member call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).

  • Call for yourself or someone else
  • Free and confidential
  • Trained VA counselors to assist
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • We have information about VA homeless programs and mental health services in your area that can help you.

What will happen when I call?

  • You will be connected to a trained VA staff member.
  • Hotline staff will conduct a brief screen to assess your needs.
  • Homeless Veterans will be connected with the Homeless Point of Contact at the nearest VA facility.
  • Family members and non-VA providers calling on behalf of a homeless Veteran will be provided with information regarding the homeless programs and services available.
  • Contact information will be requested so staff may follow-up.

National VA Homeless Resource Guide  Word Document MS Word / PDF Document PDF

—♥ #Proud2beanAmerican —— this information from http://www.va.gov/homeless/nationalcallcenter.asp 2/11/2015

Don’t leave your neighbors alone in a hot car

Don’t leave your neighbors alone in a hot car:

It is a link to a video. I talk about a client I had many years ago who lived in a car and raised her child in the car. She could not go to work or ever feel safe leaving her teen home alone because HOME =CAR. No privacy or security. Also, until recently it was illegal to sleep in your car or be stopped by police with camping equipment in your car. Don’t leave your neighbors alone in a hot car, or at the very least, try to understand and work to make this lifestyle no longer necessary.

Gardening as a Catalyst for Social Change

Hello @Tarryhammer! Disclaimer: I have a little and not so secret crush on my friend Luke Ippoliti of MEND ( Meet Each Need with Dignity) in Pacoima. He works in the Food Bank and Home Gardening program.

MEND understands that 66% of residents are renters and use most of their money on housing , this leaves very little for toothpaste or clothing or food.
Francesca De Las Rosa of WORKS ( women organizing resources knowledge and services ) is talking about responding as land owners to the crisis of hunger with an edible landscaping program.

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#wp Accountability – who is responisible for ending your personal homelessness

Accountability.
It is endlessly frustrating to speak to someone who is telling me they ONLY have 70 days left on a shelter before I need to find them new housing.

NO! no, no , no! You have 70 days with in which to find yourself housing. Take this time to look for a job. Apply for low income housing EVERYWHERE! Stop planing for failure! I am here to help, not live your life FOR you. Seriously, I have kids to live through; I am not living through you.

I am frustrated that you are not seeing yourself as Un-Homeless.

Homeless Case Manager or Jerk…

Homeless case manager

I was a self-righteous fool when I started out as a Case Manager on Skid Row

Well, actually, the first thing I was involved knocking out a Schizophrenic man cold –and then I was a fool. See, my baby brother is 6’4” and has a mental illness. So, when a tall man is out of control and lunges for me, I instinctively swing for the fences and punch him in the face. It is rude, but highly effective. No one expects the short, fat, white girl to punch like a champion. No one expects her to have worked with Hal Espy either… At any rate, after the first day when I punched out Sean, I kind of thought I was God’s gift to The LAMP Lodge. I thought I was going to sachet in there with my BA degree under my arm and personally deliver 50 people off of the streets of Skid Row and into suburbia. I was going to motivate, inspire, and teach them to become productive citizens and tune their hearing so they could hear their calling. Yep – I was a fool.

What the residents of The Lodge saw when I walked in the door was some free entertainment. They would gather in the front office and just wait for 9 am to roll around and for me to drive up and start the shenanigans.

Billy Blade and Will Smith are the two most influential people I met on Skid Row. Granted, I have hero-worship for Molley Lowrey and Arianna and Celina and even John Best… but no one taught me more about appreciating the honest truth of who a person really is than these two men who were diametrically different and yet lived on the same floor of a converted motel at the corner of 7th and Stanford.

Will has a history in law. He immediately put me in my place for asking for his “buy on” and signatures on case management forms. He was a tenant with a rental agreement to the building and under no obligation to entertain the foolish notion that he was compelled to attend group meetings, have one on one sit downs where he plotted goals and measured success. Will was happy with his efficiency bachelor pad and had easy access to the busses and trainings and outside influences and did not need to be bothered by some little girl pushing a social workers’ agenda. How dare I look at him and decide that he needed to change. Why did I think there needed to be an improvement in his situation?

Billy leaned against the building and each morning as I walked past him to get up the stairs he mumbled “A$$h0le”. Eventually I stopped to ask him why he did that instead of stopping me and telling me to my face. He pointed out that I walked past him, signed in and then would speak to him – like he was a work produce and not like he was a person. Anyone who did not value him as a man was an …, well, you know.

Eventually, I did become a good case manager. I did extend and improve the lives of the men and women who lived in The LAMP Lodge and in LAMP Community. But it was a learning process. I was fortunate to have a thoughtful and caring supervisor, John, who was patient and instructive, but mostly it was the residents who constantly reminded me that they were individuals who are valuable. Some of them are still my FaceBook friends.

I am probably still a pompous fool, but I keep pictures of my days on Skid Row up in my office to remind me that there is always room for human dignity – and it comes from the client, not from me.

Living Third World in a First World Country

Ending Homeless-ness. It sounds like a noble cause, but mostly is just frustrating.

The reason people are in the streets is because there is nowhere else for them to go. Even though the numbers of vacant houses in the US outnumber the Homeless Families; there is nowhere that these families can legally turn. There are not enough emergency shelters or even dedicated floor space under a ceiling to direct people to when they need to escape the elements.

How would you provide this child with access to a bath if she is homeless?

I often find myself in the ridiculous position of remembering that homelessness is a “First World Problem” – because back when this same bit of land would be a Third World country; Native Americans slept outside, under the stars, in caves and in tents. Surely a corner of someone’s garage or being crowded into a living room is better than that? I remind myself that Galileo did not have cable television or even electricity.  

And yet, while there is enough low hanging fruit and food stamps to keep bellies full: I am looking at a population who is living a Third World life in a First World country. I see little children who have to get homework done before their only light sets in the west while their classmates have canned light and the internet, a safe quiet bed to sleep in and access to refrigerated food and cupboards of nutrition at their fingertips.

 Last week a FaceBook friend commented that if the parents of these children could not find a way to afford better living for them, the parents should relinquish the children to adoption. What? Aside from the entirely different story of an overcrowded Foster Care System and millions of un-adopted children already waiting for homes – there is a selfishness issue there.

If a family is willing to take on a child and pay for them for eighteen years, could that same family take in the child’s family for a shorter period of time and foster them to self-sufficiency? Would they use the extra bedroom for a child and his parent(s). No, the child did not contribute to the parents un or underemployment and the child did not make the choices that led the family into homelessness, but what emotional cost are we willing to charge the child and entire family by splitting them apart?

There are no easy answers to Homelessness. Certainly the only solution is housing. Housing, however, costs money – and lots of it.

Ways to access money:

  1. Earn it through work
  2. Inherit it through death
  3. Steal it through crime.

Clearly, the socially acceptable means is employment; however there are few jobs available. I have clients and parents working at hamburger stands and chicken joints and cleaning houses and washing dishes and babysitting, and day laboring and all the jobs the media tells us we need illegal aliens to do. I am sending parents to college and trade schools so they might qualify for better jobs in a skilled sector. It seems, however , that there are not enough jobs that would pay enough for a family to rise out of homelessness and become self-sufficient.

These families are situated in urban settings and not on a commune where Third World work and life are possible. There are no field for subsistence farming, nowhere to herd cows in order to milk them for a glass of milk, and if someone were to kill the animals available in the city for food they will be prosecuted and placed in jail: ending their homelessness temporarily at least.

I don not have an answer to Homelessness. I am constantly frustrated to meet families eager and determined to save themselves when I have no way to house them and no direction to point them to that will guarantee shelter.

HomeWalk – because everyone needs somewhere to go in the rain

It is raining in beautiful Southern California and I have discovered a new addiction : home shopping on the internet.

It is nice to have the luxury of doing that and not having to stand in line at a shelter in the downpour – holding my children close and hoping there will be room for me in the colder wet night.

Everyone deserves somewhere to go when it is raining. There are not enough places for folks to go. However there are thousands of people trying to make homes and shelters and beds and provide meals and showers and most of all: guidance until those people who need the help can be on their own two feet.

How can you throw your support behind those who would END HOMELESSNESS or at least make it bearable? Support the United Way HomeWalk on November 19th.

I will be there.

If you show up and find me – you can make me sing to you – in public.

How am I trying to end homelessness? I am pushing mothers and fathers toward employment, job skills and education. I am selling pizza every Wednesday. I am raffling off purses and movie tickets and anything else that may turn a profit – and then those funds are being donated to The HomeWalk.

If you want to walk too – just join me. Join my team. Donate to my team. At the very least: spread the word.

Dear @LAHSA and Mike Arnold

I am aware, I am doing something – so could we help the homeless kids in my neighborhood? How will you know when we are aware enough to meet your standards?  Is there a bell we are supposed to ring, a flag to capture, a special dance that will signal success to you?

Did you really tell @URM “You need to shut your front door to families with children, and leave them on the streets in their communities, so that the communities’ social consciousness will be elevated, and they will step up and provide services to their neighbors.”  ?

I provide service to my neighbors. I really do.

I leave full lunches at church for the Good Samaritan Cupboard that all Arcadia places of worship host.

I donate to The Unity Center and participate in the Angel Tree. – Heck, I brought 90 Angels to work for my coworkers to help me out with.

I donate and volunteer for MEND in Pacoima in the -OTHER- Valley.

And in my free time I hang out in the Welfare system , helping poor moms and dads become self-sustaining.

WHEN will it be enough so that you will support other agencies – who can and do serve hundreds of children at once – where as I can only do a few a day?

I tell my HOUSED neighbors and friends about the needs of others.

I recruit their assistance.

WHEN WILL IT BE ENOUGH ?!?!?

♥ read more http://www.urmblog.org/2011/06/30/a-very-interesting-meeting/