This photo was taken on fifth street
I liked the reflection of the famous landmark from the skin of the other building.
I have talked to alot of people lately about the Skid Row area. Apparently
the holidays are a time when people talk about the missions around here.
This is the time of year when the missions serve their annual holiday dinners. That annual giving of food seems to not sit very well with the people on SkidRow.
They feel that the missions do not serve the interests of the community. They believe that the missions have their own agenda and the agenda is not to end homelessness. They believe that
the missions are heavy handed in the way they deal with the homeless people because they know the people are homeless and have no where to go.
Jeff has been down here for two years. " I used to live at one of the missions. I think what they do to you is unfair. They know you are in your most down period in your life. Your spirit is broken and you are in desperate need of help. They pressure you to signing a year commitment. You may not need a year commitment. you may just need one or two months.
If you only need that short period of time, they do not want you because they want that year commitment. They want that signature on the paper so they can get their funding. Every thing is about the funding, Walter. Everything. All of these missions compete for the funding and they all promise to do all of these things. But they dont fulfill their promises. They want you to do everything they say, but when it comes time for them to fulfill their part of the bargain, there is always some red tape. Always. It seems like one mission ties the quality of their help to you if you go along with their religious concepts. If you are not willing to join their faith, you will not stay long in their facility. "
"Another problem is the winter time. They become very harsh to people in the winter time. They know that people want to get out of the cold. BUSINESS IS BOOMING during the winter
time. They know they can be much more harsh with you because you have no where to go.
The all know you have no where to go so they treat you anyway they want. They are very demeaning to us. "
Gretchen says "It is scary in those places. They do not do anything to protect the women in there. We have to go to the bathroom in groups because we are afraid of getting raped. We have a group that sticks together all of the time. We form a circle and one person stays awake
all of the time while the others sleep. You can't join a program unless you stay for a year. They do not want you to get a job or anything. They want you to be totally committed to them but they do not want to be committed to you.
"Yes, that is right." says Tina. "It is like a cult. you have to do everything they say. They cut you off from the world. /They want you to depend totally on them. I thought this was a place where they were to help you become independent. But that is not true. If you question them, they will kick you out. We feel more helpless here than on the streets. And the gym. They do not even let us use the gym. They tell us the gym is only for the men. That is not fair to treat the women like that."
I have only been in two of the missions. I was in both of them to watch a basketball game.
I tried to get some assistance from one mission. The case worker never returned my phone calls until I called his superior. He promised to help me get my teeth fixed. That was the first thing he said they could do. "No problem. " Then he disappeared for 4 weeks. I called everyday. I sent emails. No response. I called his boss. Five minutes later, the man calls me back. He tells me there was a change in policy. He tells me I would have to commit to his program and they would not be able to work on my teeth for at least 90 days from the day I started.
He was only concerned about me making a commitment. He glazed over the fact that he did not follow through.
The other thing that was so obvious was that the date of the change in policy was before I met him. I met him after the policy to get dental treatment had changed. He lied to me. Simple as that. He told his superior that I did not want to make a commitment. He also did not tell the superior that he mentioned the commitment to me only after he disappeared for 4 weeks.
"Walter, I did not call you back because I was in between offices." he said.
With all of the modern day equipment to enhance communication, he claims he never could access his messages. Of course his superior believed him. That is her employee. It is not her fault. But many of these case managers, I here, drop the ball, or just plain lie to you. When you challenge them, like I did, they tell the superiors that you did not follow through, or that you wanted things your way. They play the "image of the homeless " card. They play on that stereotype. They know that that works all of the time so they do not have to be accountable. That was far from the truth in my case but that was his story.
"I do not want to overwhelm you with appointments , walter". Nonsense. I have not missed any appointment for anything my whole time on Skid Row. This particular case worker
even told his boss that I refused to go to job classes. He lied. I told him I had to go to job classes for the County of Los Angeles first. I told him that they were four weeks of classes. I would take classes after that. I had already taken 3 different "job' class series. I had to in order to keep my benefits, housing or use the resources of a company to access job postings.
He said no problem. We will start with the teeth on Monday. I spoke to him on the previous Friday. I did not talk to him after that for 4 weeks. I never would have talked to him if I had not called his boss. The funny thing is, she is great. She is efficient and she is dedicated. Most people do not have her phone number. He did not know I had it. The problem is I am sure she is told the same story over and over. The person either disappeared or wanted things their way. In a homeless, drug addicted environment, I am sure that is true, more times than not.
It is not her fault to assume that. But there must be a way to hold the case workers accountable. They know they can say anything.
"Walter, the case workers on Skid Row do not know anything. Most of them are lazy or do not care. To get a good one is like winning the lottery. If you get a good one, you are lucky. They help you. Otherwise, case workers are a nuissance and a hindrance. All that they do is give you a copy of agencies and tell you to call them They have no contacts and they to not want to have any contacts. They want you to turn in form with your signature. That is it. That is their job.
Get the signature so they can get their money. It is all about the John Hancock."
People were not willing to provide their full name as they were with the police. They were afraid that they would be cut off from help if their name was read and recognized.
I am going to try and get a interview with two presidents of these missions to get their comments about what people are saying on Skid Row about their missions.
Good morning world, I love youl