Monday, May 19, 2008

turned away empty handed

We had the closed sign out yesterday...and a second sign stating the shelter is full. It sucks when the homeless shelter is full in the SPRING. I can't imagine what winter will be like.

Anyway, we starting doing intakes for shelter at 7PM. Most people know to come then and they go to sleep. It seems earlier, but many temp jobs start as early as 5:30AM and we also kick people out at 6. It seems cruel, but we have to clean sometime, and as I said, lots of people work anyway. Once we're full, we stop taking people, we just can't. And so when someone comes at 5AM and pleads with me to let them in, I just can't. For starters, we're full, but for seconds, we would be kicking him out in an hour anyway. I told him if he could wait two more hours then he could have soup and a bed a 7AM.

The man asked me where I could refer him to. I mentioned another place and he said, we'll it's too late to go there! I felt like saying, same thing here, yet you still tried! I was nice though, I'm always nice. He left muttering about how horrible it was for a, get this, "white guy" to be walking the streets, because I care so much about what colour your skin is. Yeah right. I felt really bad for you till then. And to be honest, I still feel bad for him.

We have people who are so desperate to sleep that they try and accost the police outside IPDA so that the police will lock them up and they'll have a place to sleep. This guy was going to try it but one of our staff sent in off towards an empty teepee down the way. Hopefully it really is empty and he crashed there for a while.

It's sad really the things that people have to do, the attitudes they have, and the actions they'll take. It's sad the way I have to respond to things. It's sad, but here's how I deal with it. It's their problem. While there are huge, larger, greater systemic issues at work, in each moment, finding housing is their responsibility. They could have come at 7 and got housing. But they will not be treated differently because of their skin colour. I have people who are seriously mentally defficient and mentally ill who manage to find the shelter every night at 7. Other people can too.
But, it still sucks, and it sucks that I have to look at things that way. But, if I can keep doing it, it's part of what will make me a good social worker.

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