Toilets, Because s#!+ Happens

Los Angeles has self cleaning toilets for the public to use. What this really means is that there are self-cleaning toilets out there that homeless people can use because the general public can use a toilet inside a restaurant or a store that their patronizing has homeless people are often turned away by signs that say for “customers only”.

Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission, and one of my personal heroes, recently stated that there are just 5 self cleaning toilets in use for the homeless.

I did some math, and it breaks down to LAS homeless using the toilets at a ratio of 360 bladders and bowels per toilet. You would almost have to stand in line to use the restroom again as soon as you were done in order to have access to it by the time you needed it again. That is assuming that you only went pee 4 times today. A well hydrated human should be urinating at least 7 times a day. (That last statement was more of a factoid  my father likes to throw around than a scientific fact that I’ve researched, but  I find it to be accurate.)

LA Times article in the toilets from 2013

I have been saying for a long time that Skid Row is not a place or a feeling, it is a smell. It is the fetid putrid smell of human waste period excrement is smeared on the sidewalk and urine stains building walls.

As you drive down the streets you see people hunched between cars with their pants down trying to poop as fast as they possibly can to avoid detection, to be as helpless and exposed for a short amount of time as possible, and to retain as much dignity as possible while doing the most human of bodily functions.
It is unfair that the Mounted Police Officers can take the horses down San Pedro and have the horse’s poop on the street but they will arrest a human who does the same.i have McDonald’s toilet tokens in the cup holder of my car to hand out to people I know who live there.

Yes, there are places like laugh community that runs a public toilets and showers where people can come inside and use the toilet with running water and soap. But the doors closed at night and people need to urinate in the middle of the night. I know so many people who have kept the five gallon buckets by their boxes or 10 because that’s what they had to pee and and in the morning they try to find a gutter to pour it down. In an era where we’re already costing people their health insurance, I don’t think that pouring feces and urine and public places is the wisest of health decisions, now more than ever.

toilet

 

I was taking a walk around my local park today and realized that there are far more open Toilet stalls there than there are the entire downtown area of Los Angeles. Nobody likes being reminded that people are homeless. Nobody likes seeing homeless people. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could see them and treat them with respect. Wouldn’t  it be nice for people to be seen and not smelled?

Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General | Homeless in LA ©

Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

National Alliance to End Homelessness: FAQs.

New York Homelessness http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/?gclid=COeCmK_D08UCFUuTfgod4DEATA

The neighborhood of Silverlake in Los Angeles http://silverlakenc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/homeless_flyer_bilingual.pdf has a community council that is on the ball

The Good Rev Andy Bales of Union Rescue Mission.

I love Andy Bales and there is nothing you can do about it. He is a wee bit intimidating because he is all business and knows his stuff and all the players in the game. I feel very much like the Soccer Mom Social Worker that I am when he is around. However, if you want to know what keeps people down and who the local leaders are that are lifting them up – he is your man. http://urm.org/tag/andy-bales/

Mollie Lowrey – You could save 3 lives a day for the next 20 years and still not do as much good for the world as this lady has.

Full discosure, I stalked the skid row agency  ( LAMP) she founded for 6 months before they hired me – I believe in her that much. Her most recent venture is staffed by people who have taught me lasting lessons about homelessness. check them out here http://www.housingworksca.org/ourwork.html

♥♥♥♥♥

John Best                Celina Alvarez        Gerald Minsk

(John taught me how to speak to people in crisis and understand what homelessness really is)

(Celina has always had it together and taught me to smile at everyone, all the time – also I say “folks” because she does)

(Gerald knows all the ins and outs of Social Security and Disability and other benefits)

(Alicea Polk – one of the nicest and smartest women I ever worked with.)

If you ever have the chance to connect with any of these 3 people, do it! I am very jealous that they all work together without me.

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty  – Read everything they publish http://www.nlchp.org/reports

Natalie Profant Komuro Natalie : life changer by day and super model by night? (I am speculating here, we all know it could happen)

Proving you can look like a supermodel and show compassion like a saint  – Glendale California has Natalie. Follow her Twitter @Aanacapa and her lead at the Ascencia agency http://www.ascenciaca.org/

Joel John Roberts at ePath http://www.epath.org/staff/joel-john-roberts

Joel John Roberts, the Pied Piper of my Social Worker friends

Several of my friends and coworkers have gone to work for PATH and have never regretted it.

via Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General | Homeless in LA ©.

Learning to be Housed

” How important is it that I pay rent ?”.

As jaw droppingly stupid as hearing those words from someone who is expecting a new car tomorrow is – I heard them last night. Often homelessness is caused – not by lack of resources- but by the unwise spending of resources. (Gas to go far away, large televisions, paying excessive amounts to repair luxury items like televisions, new clothes, gambling, partying, cell phones, hair dye , etc all seem readily fundable but basic housing and utility money is scarce.) This is caused by two factors:

× not having the skills to money manage wisely.

× not respecting the people whom you owe money to.

Over the years (and let’s be honest, last night) I have heard the same old story from people in and out of my home. There is always an absurd excuse such as

1. My landlord doesn’t really need the money. I’ve seen how they live and how they spend their money so I’ve decided they don’t need me to pay them (on time , the full amount , at all).
**** Hello? It totally isn’t your position to decide that a legal contract doesn’t really apply to you just because you don’t think the other party really needs your money.

2. I have a sob story. So many unexpected issues came up that I could have prevented or saved up for.
*** You have a job and other income that far exceeds your debt amount. Part of that money should also be in am emergency savings account so you can preserve your housing. “Rent” is an expected issue. It should be a planned expense.

3. I’m charming and manipulative so the rules don’t apply to me.
*** Wait. What? Yes they do! The rules totally do. You signed a legal document agreeing to the rules.

Housing First models are difficult because most people want housing but not all of them are willing to learn to be housed.

It Came! and who should be a role model?

I am overjoyed to find @abales of @URM in my mail box at work today. It is a little like Christmas and I am super happy to be rewarded for dragging myself into the office today.

My happy dance and small shouts of “It came, It Came!” has prompted a somewhat steady stream of onlookers to my office.

After a few inquiries of “What channel is he the news anchor for” I explained that Rev. Bales is the CEO of The Union Rescue Mission http://www.urm.org/about/senior-leadership/rev-andrew-andy-j-bales.html and one of the people I admire – not for fame or success – but because of intent and purpose.

He has been a foster parent, raised 6 children and seems to care as much about the people on his staff as he does for the community that he serves.  His blog, www.urmblog.org/category/rev-andys-blog/ ,is one of my “Must Reads” whenever he gets around to writing in it.

As the mother of 1.5 children (until the end of January when this one is born) I have spent a lot of time thinking about Role Models.  How to be one for the children in my life  – and who my greatest and best influences are. Also, who do I want my children to think is soo cool that they want to take on personal characteristics of them?

For me, Social Media is some Geeky Goodness that  has brought a little bit of Christmas to my life every day. Not only do I know who I admire the most – I can “follow” them on Twitter. Then, I can keep up with them as often as they publicly make a move or decision – AND I can text them and interact. Also, I can see who they are following and see who inspires them in return.

 So – in order to inspire me and reach “Role Model” status in my book, a person has to have a clear intent to

  • 1. do good and
  • 2. be kind and
  • 3. be taking steps in constant pursuit of the good they have elected to work in.

This doesn’t mean you have to work with populations of people without housing , finances, or food.  In one of my previous “Hero of the Week” posts I  discussed a LAWYER of all creepy careers. Andrea made the cut because she wanted to use the law to heal wounds and swiftly address family issues without dragging the emotional trauma out for prolonged periods of time, although doing so would have benefitted her pocket book, it would not have ben true to who she wanted to be in this world.

I don’t think it is fair to make sports figures into role models. Kobe Bryant may well be the best hoopster of all time – but I would say that he is a man who needs a good spanking and personal cleansing of his soul. I don’t see many other redeeming qualities in him (other than he knows how to buy  a big diamond!). The same is true of actors. We pay to see them lie to us on stage and screen. We play “Let’s pretend” with actors so why would we want to emulate them in our personal lives where sincerity is key to intamate relationships and a greater understanding of self?

This year I have been inspired by more than my usual perfect trinity of O’Neals (Who – if combined would make the perfect man) , Ed, Tip and Shaq. (What?!?!? , I live in LA, I am a Laker’s girl!!!!)

I have found inspiration in friends and co-workers, and started looking for people who don’t just have a stated mission in life – but who are constantly working on achieving the betterment of self and their stated goals for good.

With that said – LOOK!!!!! My picture of Rev. Bales came and he is hanging on my wall!!!! Soo Awesome!

Hope Gardens is running out of hope.

Hope Gardens of Union Rescue Mission is about to close due to funding.

I am kinda freaking out. These are my people – homeless welfare moms and their children who have been abused and finally are able to sleep safe and find work and normalize their lives while in a safe and nurturing place.

34 moms and 74 children will lose the safe place they call home while preparing to be self-sustaining after living through Domestic Abuse.  Remember how I am always telling you that homelessness is a Women’s Issue – this is it in the flesh and YOU can help. 24 more FAMILIES were preparing to move from Skid Row to this shelter and now they can’t move in – and they will be joined on the streets by the current Hope Garden’s residents.

There is nowhere for them to go. The state budget crushed funding to Domestic Violence education for teens and services in general. As citizens, we are all living in an economic crisis and I am sure your every penny is accounted for and has a necessary expenditure planned for it.

Change your priorities for a week and see what you can Donate online  It is TAX DEDUCTABLE!

  • Get coupon happy this week  and buy the store brands so you can  donate what you have saved.
  • Skip seeing Sex and the City 2 or movies and donate the $10 to Hope Gardens – trust that your money will see more life changing drama than any HBO series!
  • Text “URM” at 85944 to donate $10 via your cell phone and reply “yes” when prompted
  • Hold off on your manicure for a week and donate the $20 to women who are holding on to their lives by the skin of their nails
  • Instead of a fancy dinner date – have a cheap date: picnic in the park, walk on the beach, a night in – and donate the savings to families having a date with destiny.

♥♥♥♥ Learn more

 http://www.urmblog.org/2010/05/24/critical-news-regarding-hope-gardens/

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7459872 – it made it on the news

Portnoy Please! (Aka I am a groupie)

@danPortnoy and @portnoymedia are not the name brand main stream names you think of when you think of Media Hype and Internet Chic… but only if you are really uncool.

So, throw on your parkas and jump into the freezer baby and check out Dan. (okay, I am uncool too – but you knew that – read on anyway)

 

I had been interviewed on many a podcast, but no one had ever talked me into LISTENING to one until I kept hearing about The Drop and finally broke down and listened. I laughed soo hard and talked back to my PC soo loudly that the Cubicle Farm (I mean my office) knew I was doing something bad…so now they listen too)

The common ground with both issues is how complex they are and how many intelligent people are working on these issues – the best part is that there’s room for you too! Please let me encourage you to get involved with either one and make it local – influence your network!  – Dan Portnoy on Human Traffiking (slavery) and The Homeless

He uses his nerdiness for good and not just to show up us less than tech-enabled. I found him through Hardlynormal and Rev Bales from the Union Rescue Mission. Look at http://www.thedroponline.com/invisible-people-tv/ . I think it is awesome when someone uses what they enjoy and what they are good at to make a change in the world.

So . . answer me truly – who do you admire that I may not have heard of yet?

Rev Andy at the URM

Someday I am going to meet @abales , Reverend Bales from the Union Rescue Mission. He doesn’t blog as much as I want him to – I guess he is a little busy and all, but it is so worth the read. therefore I am directly printing the link http://www.urmblog.org/category/rev-andys-blog/ .

Anyway, last night I had a dream and Rev. Andy was in it.  – I totally don’t hold him accountable for the following , but it was odd so I am sharing -My teeth were broken and I couldn’t speak in my dream and I was standing at an ATM machine outside the dentist office waiting for the dentist and trying to withdraw money to have my mouth fixed. I looked up and Rev Andy was riding backward down an escalator and Tweeting me (via twitter) at the same time.

He said that just because I couldn’t use my words today – I could still find ways to talk to the world about what was hurting me. At that point the ATM started printing out Travelers Checks that looked like napkins and an old couple behind me grabbed them and started wiping things down. 

They said that money is just like paper napkins and it could be used to clean up the world but won’t have any affect if there is no one pushing it around and using a little elbow grease.

57 kids homeless in Glendale CA

in 2009.  approximately 250 adults were homeless as well. The number of people served by the Winter shelter program in Glendale was almost double this year from last year.

A couple of times this season I went to The Winter Shelter. It is in the Glendale Armory (having it in Burbank caused a lot of NIMBY-ism) in the main ground floor room. Army cots are set up in rows, a television is in the corner and a couple of food tables are off to the side. When you walk in the door you are met by a friendly but firm security officer who searches your possessions for anything banned or harmful and then you are directed to sign in at the desk.

The process seemed smooth and occasionally eventful – just because any group of people will be unpredictable.  Some clients of the shelter are holding down jobs and sleeping there at night, others may or may not have eaten during the day, some are homeless for the first time and completely overwhelmed.  And almost every night a family or two…or three with children would come to the door and need separate shelter in motels or local shelters.

The Winter Shelter is a special kindness funded by many sources and  a program that often has no where to happen. When the armed services needs to gather the troops in the Armory – those who sleep there have no where to go.

No churches open up their sanctuaries, no temples offer space, and even an empty warehouse or unused office space can make a difference to those with nowhere to go.

Yes, some of the faces are the same each year – but many of them are new and hopefully many of them are also receiving outreach services from The Union Rescue Mission and PATH Achieve so that next year they will be self-sufficient and in housing of their own procurement.

It is possible, and it can be done. But it won’t be done if you have access or know someone with access to space and services but keep this need to yourself.

Speak up. There are 57 homeless children in Glendale that we know of. I promise you that there are well over a hundred. I know this because their parents are my clients.

Volunteer to serve in an outreach agency, ask yourself if you can cause any space to be available for shelter, and let us have fewer children seeking shelter next winter.