Homeless in SF: Shelter Shock
I am a typical American. I lost my job(s), and lost my home.
I have been homeless before. At least 3 other times. All homeless stints were after I got out of the military. I have family, but they can't help, I have friends but they can't help, so I'm stuck on the streets in San Francisco, where it is illegal to sleep in your car, sit and lie on a sidewalk, loiter, or even set up a tent.
Since unemployment compensation ran out I was forced to get Food Stamps, and apply for welfare. That was NOT a fun process. It is a very institutional process where applicants are escorted by security, and workers find every flaw in your daily life.
••• First of all my appointment to see a worker was put off for 3 weeks. On appointment day I had to wait for 3 hours to see that worker, and when I was called I suddenly realized I could not understand a word my worker was saying. Her English was not clear.
To get on welfare I had to prove this, and prove that, and go here, and go there. Finally one week later I completed the process.
For a mere 43 dollars.
I was denied access to one of the programs called PAES.
But I did get a shelter bed. I tried sleeping in my car, but that is illegal and I do NOT want legal problems. The shelter I was given a bed to is located in the Tenderloin. I will preserve confidentiality by NOT naming the shelter.
• First of all I was not treated with dignity and respect when I first arrived at the shelter. I was told to take off my belt and was subjected to a body search by security. They seemed to enjoy it.
• Secondly walking into the shelter I had to endure inebriated chain smokers.
• Thirdly the people at the front desk seemed unwilling to offer me linens for the bed I had to sleep on.
To stay in the shelter I must check in EVERY day between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. Then if it is between 2:30 and 4:30pm I cannot go on the floor so I have to leave and come back. If I don't check-in they give up the bed. This is problematic because as a freelancer I must disrupt my work,or day, or gig to check in at the shelter.
When I am in the shelter I must endure people who have NO respect for other peoples' rights.
There are disparaging comments by other clients that could lead to violence.
But i am told it is better to stay in a shelter because SFPD is irrational.
An experience I had with SFPD: I was sleeping in my car at the panhandle and one morning at 3am i get a tap on my window with a .40 caliber pistol. It was SFPD. They searched me and my car at 3am in the morning. So what is safer? My assumptions are a shelter.
I know this isn't a perfect world, but being homeless and transgender in San Francisco seems like a death sentence. I didn't cause my job loss.
This will be an on going series of posts about what I am experiencing while homeless and jobless and transgender in San Francisco.
The most shocking part about this experience is the behavior by other clients in the shelter.
••• One lady insists on walking around calling transgender people devils.
••• One lady walks around burping constantly for hours.
••• Most clients don't cover their mouths when coughing.
••• Some clients smoke in the bed area.
••• People with schizophrenia are allowed to walk around in the bed area while others are sleeping.
••• Clients steal from each other.
••• Clients seem intent on making as much noise as they can.
One other important fact should be communicated to the reader. "The rules set up by the shelter can result in people being thrown back on the street without warning."
Pictures were posted from my phone using Indybay Publisher.