Monday, December 22, 2008

when the shelter become home

Frank is somewhat of a celebrity among the cities homeless population. A friendly man he's known at pretty much every drop in center in the area and does his rounds supported by his cane barely missing dying by traffic each day. Frank's brain has been quite destroyed by sniff and he can be rather hard to understand at times. Quite sometime ago he had a public guardian appointed, and as such our agency dispenses his money and I believe we have some responsibility for where he lives (there are different levels of trusteeship and i am not positive where he falls).

As it's winter and Frank is quite vulnerable our transition team found him a room for the winter in a place where his meals are provided, it's not the greatest place, but it's in "his" area, and he has family there. The fact is though, it's a warm place for the winter, and a place where he can't be denied service once they're full, the room is "his".

The problem is, Frank is not quite sold on the room, it's location or the fact that he is no longer sleeping in the shelter. The shelter has become home and the staff his family and to lose that is a huge lose for him. He managed to get in for a few nights before all the staff were informed of the plan, but now his name comes with a big warning in the computer that he is to go to his room for the night.

Is this the best answer in this situation? I'm not sure. It's definitely a safer place for him to be staying, and one in which he's guaranteed to stay warm. Having his own room he is able to accumulate a few personal possessions and store things such as a change of clothes, and meals are sure better then soup and bread (although I haven't tasted them, so who really knows...) But is Frank happy? What is really in his best interest? I have to admit I'm with transitions on this one though. For the winter at least, I really feel having a room and meals is in his best interest, and it's not like he can't walk across the street and see the staff at work everyday anyway. I'm glad I'm not the one who had to make the decision though!


cb said...

This reminds me of someone I worked with a few years ago who had been homeless for years. I went to see him in the new flat that had been found for him and all he wanted to do was to go back to the shelters because he missed the communal living and the people. It is why it's so hard to be making calls about what is in other peoples' 'best interest'. I don't doubt that, in general, the new flat was the best thing for him but sometimes I did doubt it.

Lisa said...

This reminds me of the movie "Shawshank Redemption," when Brooks, a prison librarian and long-time inmate is granted release - but, unable to deal with his freedom, commits suicide.

It's gotta be easy to become "institutionalized" after a while....