Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Betrayal on Skid Row

Sometimes something must happen to help you regain your perspective. I experienced that kind of event tonight, on my way home from work.

I have been working hard, trying to find employment opportunities that will offer me better income. I have to admit that I enjoy my job, co workers and even the clients but I do want to save more money, get out of debt and move out of Skid Row.

I sent an acquaintance from my past a copy of my resume. I thought he might review it and then offer me a job or refer me to someone who may be hiring. He did neither.
He had his assistant review it, make some comments and send it back to me with a message "Good luck with my career". I felt I received the brush off. For a long time today I felt like I was damaged goods. I felt sorry for myself, not remembering that a year ago, at this time, I had nothing. I had no job. I slept in a shelter by court order and pretty much felt I had no future.

thought about all of that for a while. Within a short period of time a few people who live where I work came by to get their mail. Some are severely physically challenged. Others have tremendous health issues. I put things into perspective and was grateful that I had my health and that I was not using subsgtances and that my life had a bright future. It may take longer than in my youth to create opportunities but sooner or later something will happen. I must keep digging.

With regaining the proper attitude, I walked down the street with a coworker, escorting her home. We walked by many people who were homeless, sitting down on the sidewalk. Suddenly we came across a young man who was laying down on the sidewalk next to a building.

On the surface, it was no different than anybody else but I knew the story of this guy. Sure, he relapsed. That is not unusual but in my opinion he was betrayed by a program that is in Skid Row.

There are many programs on Skid Row and they purport to provide training and placement. Here is an example of what happens:

John was in a program. He started out in a shelter. The shelter then started an educational program. John entered the program. Keeping John in the facility an allowing John to go to an education program allows the umbrella non profit organization to receive more money. Upon graduation John was placed in employment.
They gave him what is known as a "Packaged Deal". They provide you with employment and housing. The housing happens to be owned by the very same non profit organization that owns the shelter and the educational program. It is also very expensive.

One of the prospective employers in the various "packaged deals" that are presented to the clients is known to hire people, treat them extremely unfairly, and do every thing they can to fire the employee before the probation period is over so the employer does not have to provide medical and other benefits. 95% of the people who are sent to the employer are terminated within 90 days.

The non profit organization that provides this program knows this. They know that it is highly unlikely that the client under their guidance and who trusts them to stir him/her in the right direction will survive longer than 60 days.

They could stir the client to different housing services that are much less expensive and provide the client with supportive services they need but they choose not to do that. For instance, the Marshall House costs seventy five percent less than the housing which is offered to the client. The client is also in an after care drug treatment facility where he can get support from other clients. A case manager is also assigned to the client.

However the client is not directed there. The client is directed to
one of two buildings for housing. Both buildings are owned by the non profit organization that is the umbrella for the educational arm. Both buildings are notorious in their reputation as drug environments. EVERY PERSON THAT THE PROGRAM HAS PLACED IN THOSE BUILDINGS AS RELAPSED. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Furthermore, the administrators know the buildings are de facto drug houses and they do nothing to clean them up.

They place them there because it looks good on the stats because it is defined as permanment housing. The Marshall House is defined as transitional housing. It may look good for the company but it is terrible for the client. The client is directed to permanent housing but they are, in reality, headed for permanent failure.

That is what happened to John. He relapsed because he was exposed to drugs all of the time.

It amazes me that a programm which is targeted to help the chronically homeless receive skills and employment, chooses to dump their clients in an environment where drugs run rampant. It is more important to look good in the stats, and fill their corporate coffers with rent payments than it is to make sure that their clients have a fighting chance.

I believe it is criminal. definitely immoral and it disgusts me.

Usually they would let a client go back into the shelter and receive more funding. However John was a client that required effort. John was the client that they were supposedly targeting to help. A difficult client, one trhat needed attention.
He was a problem that they were able to get rid of and they do not want him around so they told him he was not allowed to go back to the shelter. However, in 99 percent of the cases, they allow a client to return.

John will be sleeping again on the streets tonight. How the administrators of the program can sleep with a clear conscience is beyond me.

I forgot about my ambition and my frustration in not being able to obtain a job with a higher income. I felt good that, for now, I am at least helping people that need help. It is something about which I feel good.

I do have housing. I do have little comforts. I am in a much better position now than I was last year. I will steadily improve. However, There are people on the streets who have little chance of obtaining shelter. There are those who have little chance of receiving help. There are those that are 'receiving help" but in some cases they would be better off if the help given was not provided. It is because the help will lead them to a disastrous end even though the corporate stats look good for the organization that led them down the wrong path. this is quite common on Skid Row.


Dallas Cowboys said...

We need some updated post.

skidrowscribe said...

I hear you:)

Kamsafoxx said...

Hi Walter.

I love reading your writing. I will be back often.

Karen Marie

Anonymous said...

I worked with that guy. Let me tell you that it was very unfortunate that I worked very hard in attempting to get this gentleman a job. I tried working with him and even went to his room to find him a job. Yes, he was going to be an extra work load for the program.

However, the reason why he was never allowed back into this respective shelter was because he was considered by the program staff as a "safety risk". Therefore, because of him being classified as a safety risk, he was not allowed by the case manager, who is an illiterate thug by the way, to move back in to the T-House.

You know, I feel sorry for people like John and I consider myself to be very fortunate in not having a fate like this gentleman. However, he brought on himself. In fact, I have records to prove that I tried getting him placed. Now, some of the staff in this transition house only see the homeless as numbers. At the end of the day, they only care about a person being placed in a job and in a "permanenent" residence to fulfill such a stat. Yet, some of these clients are not ready for the big transition from being a sober, ex-drug abuser to someone living in mainstream society.

In essence, "John" should have been transferred to a program where he would be taught to live independently since the program that I used to work in, is not fully equipped nor has the resources to help people like "John".

carolinarnj said...

This is a story that is really sad and at the same time really makes a person mad. To think there are organizations out there that actually prey on the weak, makes me sick. I hope they wind up being investigated and fry for what they are doing and getting away with.