|My DIGNITY has been taken from me, there has been the opposite of COMPASSION by higher level staff and certainly there is no RESPECT. This is why people were living in tents.|
What I expected from homeless shelters in a city this largely populated with people who I found surprisingly and delightfully kind when I first got to Boise was quite different than what is happening now. There is a huge class divide in this city and a subset of not so nice people.
I decided to start this blog secondary to two things, the statement the police chief, William Bones made that there were empty beds at the shelters during the removal of the campers of Cooper Court and how I was treated when I went to check into Interfaith Sanctuary. It was barbaric. More on this too. I did not publish it then due to attempts to speak with the administrative staff, which ended up being to no avail and the staff who work there who actually have empathy, but the two abusive guys just kept on. In other words every chance was given to them for changes or to even listen to the truth.
On 11/29/15 when I first began writing this many people tried to get into the Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter and were turned away. One of the shelters advertises that they never turn anyone away, City of Lights for women, but many told me they have been turned away, with many stating they will not stay there due to bullying and radical Christianists. The nickname for that shelter is "Jesus Jail."Are they getting federal money at Jesus Jail? I think so or they would not be operating.
I was utterly horrified by the tent city in the alley around the Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter and behind Corpus Christie Day Shelter, not for the reason the city of Boise was, because of how bad things have to be at the shelters to make the decision to live in a tent when it is so cold outside. The shock of families who arrived in the freezing cold to go into the shelter with kids in jogging strollers or those kid carts pulled by a bicycle amplified this. It has been freezing cold for much of fall and winter in Boise Idaho.
Empty beds my ass!
I was told unless I was one of the first three women to go into the Interfaith Sanctuary I would not get a place to sleep. That place would be on the floor, but I would not freeze to death. They do not have homeless mats for sleeping on the floor, they use these thin floor covering mats not designed for that purpose. I was told they do not have resources for such things. The cement is cold and dirty, the mats are also dirty. In my case with my health issues hypothermia could have easily happened and did many times, the Interfaith Sanctuary administration staff and operations manager do not care, that has been demonstrated several times. Certainly there are many of us with health issues that amplify the effects of cold on our bodies. I have several illnesses that make the cold effect me to the point my brain stops working and my hands freeze up. My right hand has parts that turn purple when it is not even cold. The only time while living in Alaska including close to the Arctic Circle I got as cold as I have waiting in the freezing cold for two hours to get into Interfaith Sanctuary was when I went up a mountain in an open tracked vehicle, that was in Nome. Homeless people die when it is this cold, but way more suffer. This is not due to a misunderstanding of the suffering, it is due to staff not giving a damn, the staff who makes policy and major decisions, but not all of them are like that. There were heroes in this story, some of the people of Boise came with food, hand warmers, jackets and kind words to let us know someone cared and thought we were humans. The staff who have empathy have also been heroes but the others made sure I felt unwelcome. Feeling like a human never lasts very long due to the abuse at the shelter for some of us.
People have the wrong ideas about who homeless people are. The population consists mainly of those who have needed some kind of service they did not get or who can't find affordable housing. A very important factor among the homeless which is almost never discussed is trauma illnesses. Those who have PTSD have a very high risk for self medication with drugs and alcohol. I am a retired RN, mostly critical care RN, some ER, supervision, but some psychiatric as a supervisor and contracts with a prison system and more. Because of my knowledge and my ability to do research when I developed PTSD from layers of severe psychological trauma while very ill with ME/cfs and more I knew the dangers and also that I was in danger from physicians, so I protect myself from the medications that get those with PTSD into problems. Then the trauma of being homeless makes the PTSD over time keep getting worse. That is especially true when homeless people are arrested for ridiculous things like they are in Boise. People need help, mental health treatment, basic health care, dental care, understanding, compassion, housing and some need jobs. There are large numbers of mentally ill and people who have health issues who are homeless without the resources to get housing. Homeless people are traumatized over and over and some of it is intentionally done by the homeless shelters, Interfaith Sanctuary has intentionally harmed me and of course others. More on this later as well.
Mentally ill people may self medicate. When the illness is treated the secondary medical problems such as addiction can be dealt with easier. If people are given housing all of the issues generally get better and addiction issues at least decrease. Expecting people living in a hellacious situation to get clean and sober makes no sense. Some are actually hoping they will die due to lack of the situation getting better due to the government not providing affordable housing along with no regulation of the abusive shelters. Add the social disabilities of an arrest record and bad credit due to no jobs and medical bills, the result means housing is impossible. The mentally ill with behavioral problems can find themselves thrown out into the freezing cold in the middle of the night and may be told they can't come back for a week or more Why is there no safety net for those who have these issues?
Two elderly men left the shelter the other night stating they would rather sleep outside than be treated poorly, one said he was recently hospitalized for being suicidal and did not need the abuse. No one needs the abuse some of the people who work at shelters met out. I understand how these two men feel after the things I've been through. What people with health issues do not need is poor nutrition, the high stress they have to live under, being out in the freezing cold for long periods of time, abuse, lack of sleep and having to stand outside for long periods waiting. In the case of those of us with orthostatic blood pressure issues (In my case Postural OrthostaticTachycardia Syndrome secondary to ME/cfs) and other issues this a health hazard. Taking a shower can be difficult and now they have designed a system of abuse even around showering. More on this.
Those who are on Social Security may have trouble finding affordable housing. I have this problem along with social disabilities that make me look like the opposite of what I am due to a corrupt justice system in another state. We have some income yet can't find a place to rent. I recently had someone at an agency call me indignantly asking why I was not living in a long term hotel. I told her most of them are $1500 to $1800 a month and any less than that never have vacancies, I know I checked before I even got here. She was ridiculing me but knew nothing about it. She said other things that indicate she had an attitude and no business working with the homeless.
I write about my life and have for many years because no one can make me feel like garbage like the police chief and mayor wants the public to think of homeless people. It was clear in the news media Chief Bones was attempting to steer people into thinking the homeless are all intoxicants, that is very wrong. Those who are intoxicants deserve to not be demonized, they have an illness which is often secondary to a mental health problem. If you think they are annoying in your community trying living in a shelter with them. Why is Boise just now talking about Housing First? Where have you been city of Boise and state of Idaho?
I am a good person, I know this absolutely. In my life I did much good and I continue to do what I can to facilitate changes. I worked in the service of others for decades while I myself was ill after working my way through college while ill. Then when I needed help while developing PTSD no one was there for me, it has continued.
I volunteered as a Master Gardener and Food Advisor for the Cooperative Extension in Washington. I also volunteered in a prison, taught gardening and food preservation as a volunteer at an inner city addiction treatment program and worked at soup kitchens. As a student in a nursing program I worked on the streets with the homeless, found out what the public believed about them and reality are two different things and had no idea in the United States a whole family could be living on the street until then. I was working for pay at a state psychiatric facility in the legal offender programs and learned that many of the people were traumatized in childhood and needed help way prior to their arrests that they did not get. Most of the country, those who read anyway now finally know the mentally ill instead of getting help are often homeless or incarcerated.
The layers of trauma that have caused PTSD of a rather severe nature due to my "adventures" in Alaska have caused me much suffering, but I do well when I can do what I need to do for myself and get to choose what I eat. I had some supplemental nutritional products in my suitcase that were stolen by the Interfaith Sanctuary but they would not let me have access to them anyway.
One of the reasons I left Alaska was to find counseling for the PTSD so I could continue to fight for my own personal justice and social justice there as mental health treatment is so horrible in that state. Instead I have been traumatized even more. When I can do what I need to do it all gets much better, but when homeless the nutrition, self care, and even sleep necessary to keep myself functioning better are not attainable. Part of my fight for justice has been ended due to the Interfaith Sanctuary staff stealing/destroying my property and then lying that it was my fault. It was locked in a building they had the key to and I was not allowed access to.
I have high self-esteem because I know who I am and that I do not deserve the injustice I have suffered for a decade from the corrupt state of Alaska. That self-esteem angers people because they believe my speaking up should just not be allowed and I should bow down to the bullies. Many have tried to shut me up in the past about many subjects. I hate lies, truth and justice are what I care about. It is the only thing I live for now and this shelter of dysfunction and abuse has taken my files. The justice I fight for includes social justice.
Right now the census is lower than when I first started writing about this shelter, so less are trying to get in. Some have left Boise. But back in November and December people told me they tried to get into the Interfaith Sanctuary and were turned away while the public was told there were open beds. Shame on anyone who tried to tell the public otherwise. Before I had a bed, I stood for 1.5 to 2 hours in the freezing cold, hands and feet numb shivering not knowing what abuse would occur (there is bullying at most homeless shelters) or if I could get in. In a city as large as Boise there is just no excuse for this. My next post will tell the story of the first night.
The first song on this video demonstrates how angry I am, but I fight only with words and legal action. My anger and PTSD have been earned. I dedicate this song to an abusive male social worker at the shelter who after I was abused would come up to me and tell me I was angry as if that would be strange in that situation. Then there was the operations manager who slandered me in a crowded room saying I never said thank you for anything which is the opposite of the truth. He tells me over and over I should go over to Jesus Jail after something abusive, so he's trying to run me off. They can kiss my butt. I was leaving tomorrow, but after the thieves stole my property I have to stay and deal with them.