Friday, December 2, 2016

Checking Into the Shelter at Night, Homeless People's Property Thrown Out, Craziness, a Death Outside, Some Changes Helped

Keep in mind that everything that must be done when homeless takes a huge amount of time which steals the life of the homeless person over to a system designed often from lack of empathy and logic. Then remember the homeless are often waiting for the next trauma, dreading it and this is why people sleep outside and in cars. Someone apparently died last night very close to the shelter, probably from the cold while intoxicated. A couple days ago I saw the police trying to get people to go into the shelters early in the morning. I said the reason they sleep outside is the shelters are hellholes. Some got tickets and it is cold here now so not safe outside. I think I know who the man was and I feel bad because after calling adult protective services so much and getting told various reasons they could do nothing to help the person I did not call about him. I noticed a man with a big bottle a couple days before and thought if he keeps drinking out here he is going to die, the cops saw him and it was morning so I left it to them. I know it would not have resulted in him getting help if I called APS, but what I know is always do the right thing because there is some comfort in having done what you could even if the result was not good.

Somewhere in the process of checking into the shelter I have to obtain a coffee cup for the morning before the volunteer touches it or writes on it. Their hands have been all over. If you don’t get one at night and keep it until morning you can’t have coffee unless you have something else to drink out of and they will not allow one to bring their own cup into the dorms, so you would have to go out to your locker in the cold to get it. A volunteer tattled on me for refusing to have my cup further cultured with the bacteria from her hands.Then I stick it in my shirt, bra or jacket so I do not drop it.

Many people who are homeless have addiction issues, are mentally ill, have dementia, or intellectual impairments or more than one of these issues along with the constant trauma of being homeless causing cognitive problems, especially short term memory issues. Yes, they take people who already have cognitive problems and make them worse through the constant trauma and abuse, but this causes cognitive damage to people who are normal, so just imagine how hard it is to even function to get through one day homeless. The way the Interfaith Shelter is run causes massive trauma over and over for the people who aren't in the good ole boys club. For some remembering to get a damn paper cup at night is too much. In the morning several people dig paper cups out of the garbage, some don't even bother to rinse them before drinking out of them. Then of course that hand which was digging in the garbage touches the toggle on the coffee pot and more.

We talk about our problems with not being able to even remember what we need to bring in to shower due to the crazy way things are set up there causing trauma and stress, then there are the ever changing rules, the random bullying sessions targeting certain people like me. It happens every night and last night I forgot not to bring something in yet due to needing to put linens on my bunk first. We also drop things constantly due to the stress. I also have neurological problems due to ME/cfs that cause me to drop things getting worse and worse, along with being dizzy and falling down. Sometimes I trip and fall on the sidewalk, but the other day I fell while getting on a bus. I was just thankful I did not land on my face again.

When one goes into the shelter there could be bullying or confrontation about your pajamas or personal hygiene items, imagine having to live like that never knowing what will happen or if you will be abused. If it isn't the staff it's someone staying at the shelter who has a personality disorder harassing you for some crazy reason. 

I was confronted for the high crime of putting my flip-flops in a plastic baggie, but serious problems are completely ignored or not even noticed. Telling them about serious problems results in anger or gaslighting. My rationale aka common sense reason for putting my flip flops in a separate baggie would be using a multiuse shower with a population that has some who rarely bathe, may have vermin and common reasons such as fungus or coliform bacteria. There are also toxic chemicals used to clean the shower room and I have mitochondrial dysfunction. Homeless people get diarrhea often due to the horrible diet, being exposed to pathogens and some are in withdrawal from narcotics on and off. Just a week ago Monday I spent about two hours in the middle of the night throwing up and having diarrhea, then I had to clean the mess up while so dizzy I have no idea how I stayed upright. Normally when this happens to me I get so dehydrated I can't stand and must go to the ER for IV fluids. That day I used a salt shaker that flowed too fast and took in a lot of salt, that probably kept me from the ER that night by causing my body to retain fluids. Now I have an upper respiratory infection. I believe both of these viruses came from the same rarely bathed source due to the poor hygiene decisions made at the shelter.

They use cards now to check us in, I am inmate number 117 in hell. We have to carry a card which shows we are homeless non-humans. Imagine having that in your wallet. People who often loose their possessions have lost those cards and have to pay $1 to get into the shelter to replace it, one guy told me he had lost his four times. When they hold the card to check me in having held a large number of other cards whatever germs were on the other cards are on the hands of the staff and now my card is contaminated. Some of them now just have me hold it up but if not I clean it with an alcohol wipe and if I forget one wash it. It’s like having unprotected sex with someone, you know that saying about having sex with all the other people that person has had. 

Then I go and sign up for a shower and in the past had to stand there for a while because we were not allowed to take one step to grab a towel from a plastic bin even if they are watching us. Now they put them in a metal cupboard. I don't want the same contaminated hands on the towel that touched everything else. Some were pushing the plastic bin, some even ventured to tell me to take one step, but then a rule was made they can't move the plastic bin so I asked them to grab it with a tissue. They prefer to use their gloves which ha been contaminated and so only serve to protect the wearer from pathogens not what they touch. Sometimes there are four or five of them mostly doing nothing behind the desk and the wait is quite long. They also give me nasty looks and comments about not wanting them to touch the towel. One night one of the students who is a bully saw a volunteer move the plastic bin as I told him they had made a rule against it. She was rather nasty and threatening accusing me of doing something wrong which is a lie. She is learning from the two serial bullies how to target people, demonize them and manufacture lies about them. She said, "Tim is going to come and talk to you about it." Tim never showed up. It was really sick.

 Next I go to my bunk and leave some stuff. I may chat with someone for a minute, then go to the shower room. We use to have quite a crazy back up in there but it is better now that some of the women are allowed to not bathe. You can't even imagine the stench. The combination of the most foul vaginal odor, old pee and body odor wafting from their bunk, above or next to you. You may have trouble sleeping or wake up gagging from it. Each time you walk by the air current you create makes it worse. Women can be in this olfactory damaging condition for weeks even wearing the same filthy clothing while the staff does nothing and make statements about how they can't make people shower. Having extra plastic bags and confabulating about me seem to be of much more interest. 

After the shower I have to take my shower stuff and dirty clothes outside to my locker and get clean clothes and my bag of stuff for the night. Every time I get sick more stuff gets crammed into the bag. We can't go into the lockers to get something after 9 PM so I bring what I might need. I might also grab a book, but the dorm is so crazy it makes reading hard, but I try sometimes. Then the dorm is like a junior high slumber party, I can use headphones or ear plugs and sometimes both, even with lights out or early in the morning someone will be talking on their phone. I have several sleep disorders and generally am already awake but others are trying to sleep. It's just amazing to me when they do things like that. In the morning I get awakened several times from inside the dorm and outside. At a particular time I get my crap together, make my bunk as best I can and get up. Then get a fold up chair and wipe it down with just water in case food got on it. It's dark in the main room and men are sleeping on the floor. Then I wait for the coffee pot to be brought out. When it is those who are up go to the pot and hilariously never manage to form a line. This morning I said we just form an impression of a line, but somehow it seems to work.

This shelter does not even have hand washing signs in the bathrooms. I saw a fabulous sign in the bathroom at the Women’s and Children’s Alliance and they gave me one to bring to the Interfaith Sanctuary. They have not requested any apparently as it has been weeks and nada. They could simply print instructions on a piece of paper to attach to the wall with pictures of germs on them or whatever. They could also have someone teach a class to the homeless people about why hand washing and other actions would help prevent infections. When I got there over a year ago they only had one soap dispenser in the women’s bathroom, then after a few months there were three. Women walk around barefoot, drop their clothing on the floor in the bathroom stalls and the wear them again. Many do not even wash their hands after using the toilet. But not teaching them to use a paper towel to open the stalls or at least to open the door to the bathroom means even those who do wash their hands are re-contaminated. They allow jackets, etc. to be hung on the top bunks which often causes that clothing to come into contact with the other person’s bedding and even if it doesn't as the hours go by the bacteria divide and migrate onto the bedding. Some people don't wash their jackets and sit on sidewalks etc. 

Last winter there were two women I know of who became septic with bacterial infections, it is likely there were more and I have no information about the men. I had one virus after another often bronchospasming all night. Many had pneumonia and bronchitis. Add the fans they had running all last winter, the bleach fumes and laundry detergent/cleaning supplies and there were allergies and vasomotor rhinitis symptoms on top of the viruses. It was awful and the coughing keeps people awake. The majority smoke but even those who do not smoke have to breathe cigarette smoke. Things have changed so I have to breathe less of it than last winter. They changed the blankets so the women who demanded the fans be on all winter while they were insanely under big comforters are now not wanting those fans on now. It was crazyiness. They complained they were hot and wanted the damn fans on while they were under this big hot comforter. Of course they were hot, take the damn thing off. So that has helped with the coughing.

Easy spreading of pathogens is due to being packed inside a shelter with all those people exposed to every infectious virus going around the community. The day shelter is way worse as far as people all packed together and has Dyson hand blowers which spread germs like crazy. There are people who flush the paper towels down the toilets causing massive plumbing problems so they stopped having paper towels which is the best way to prevent transfer of germs. I don’t go over there anymore to protect myself from lots of things but of course am in the night shelter with those who do. I believe I had a viral sepsis last winter and was very close to dying and health care was horrid. Health care providers know nothing about ME/cfs so they are horrible to us.

The issue about not being able to separate things like flip-flops with plastic bags contributes to the spreading of germs. One plastic bag is all that is allowed, flip-flops must be put against all toiletry items in the bag and things that need to be dry are wet due to lack of separation. The poor nutrition, the trauma, the alcoholism and the physical harshness of being homeless all contribute to the large amount of viruses that run through the population. When people are living on the edge of society and treated like garbage they become depressed and then stop caring about basic hygiene as each day the goal is just to survive. Those running the shelter have no problem with spreading pathogens from person to person and especially have to concern for those with immune system problems.

The person in this post with the hygiene issue is no longer in Idaho, but the same situation is playing out in others over and over. This is not about my current bunkmate. At this point probably all but two women will not know who this is so even though there are many stories and certainly ongoing ones I'm using this one. This post also demonstrates how the rules change without anyone being told and how property of the homeless gets thrown out.

Written June 16th 2016:

Ended up going back to the shelter late as I was working on something. The horribly smelling woman did not lose her bed for not doing a chore. Remember how they tried to take my bed when I had done a chore and actually had done lots of extra? Remember how I was not believed? Remember how it traumatized me and I dropped my pajamas in the garbage and then had to wear them? Then yesterday only 3 out of 7 stayed to do chores, two of us did extra, none of them lost their beds. It is also supposed to be mandatory to take a shower on chore day, not a problem, I take one every day. That woman below me did not take a shower. The odor was horrific. So I get up to complain about it again and I am not the only one who does. The supervisor tells me they have her in case management to try and work the issues out. Well they have been throwing mentally ill women outside who just lived like animals while I called agencies and ranted at the clinic for the homeless people. I also protected one of them from being thrown out of a business. [It was way more than one I protected]
They gave all those who skipped out on chores night chores to do supposedly. I sure as hell hope she did not serve the gruel; people would be retching. I don’t know as I arrived late. The supervisor told me she would make sure she showers, I said she would just put the same filthy clothing back on which smells horrid. I went over how myself and another woman tried to help her, were nice to her and she just will not do any personal hygiene nor go get free clothing. I gave her some jeans. Apparently she has clothes in her plastic bin but will not wear them. It seems like she is faking some of the crazy behaviors and the woman who put her ass on my bed etc. is her friend, so those two may be running some kind of con. She acts like she is an idiot but is on her cell phone all night long. I don’t know WTH the deal is with her or the shelter. So I say to the supervisor, so you aren’t throwing people out for not doing chores now? She says she doesn’t want her on the street. Then I go, so rather than traumatize people you are case managing and giving them night chores? Yes, she says. Now next week they may be back to throwing people out and threatening them, but this is actually a positive thing.
Yesterday morning I forgot to mention something that happened. When I went out to put my stuff away etc. before chores A woman was on a chair getting her stuff out of the dumpster. I said, “Did they throw your stuff away?” Yes, she says and I say “those bastards” and that I am sorry it happened. Then as I am getting ready to do chores this guy who was assigned to the storage room and electronics deal comes in and says a woman is getting her stuff out of the dumpster. I say to him, “Why would you tell them that?” Then as they start to go out and stop her I begin chanting all by myself, “LEAVE HER ALONE” over and over. It was an automatic single person protest and I’m kind of proud of it. Their eyes got really big. The guy that reported it starts saying to me, “I’m not a bad person”, explaining they told him he had to tell them. I then say they do lots of evil things to people and I refuse to go along with it, here is what you can say, “No, I’m not doing that.” Last night he mentioned the black woman he had reported, then I go, so there were two, the one I saw was white. Those assholes. We started talking and I realized he thought the stuff thrown away had been abandoned by people who were gone three days. No I told him they throw property of people who are staying here away all the time and that includes mine, my suitcase with important court cases in it. They’re complete bastards. You should have seen the look on his face, he had no idea. Man have I got some big ovaries.
Not feeling well and have not been for quite some time. Doing the best I can with what I know to get better, but the issues that are causing it are out of my control. The only thing I can control is doing the next right thing. I can’t emphasize how much comfort selecting my actions this way gives me because whatever happens I know I did what I could or that I made the best choice given the situation. 

The trauma of it all accumulates and most of us were already traumatized before we became homeless. The staff at most homeless shelters are not trauma-aware and most don't have the education to understand what that means. It seems that even most of the social workers think it is OK to throw personal property away, bully people, cause emotional damage. Last winter I watched the horror show as they threw those with mental illness or dementia outside at night or threaten those who speak up with being sent to a shelter filled with religiosity. There were some I would go looking for in the morning and sometime they were in bad shape. Often I found them at Albertsons trying to get warmed up, falling asleep or about the be thrown out. I got coffee and put it in front of them so staff would let them stay a while. I can't do that now, so hope the same scenarios are not happening. This winter I do not go to Albertsons due to being falsely accused of shoplifting, but worse than that accusation was how the director of the store and the headquarters treated me when I complained. It is quite unfortunate there are so many Albertsons stores in Boise. This has made my life even harder. What I was at Albertsons was a good customer and there are employee who know that, but the attitudes toward the homeless as always distort truth and logic. 

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