The new shelter


I wasn’t stranded.  (Link.)

May 12, 2020

At a new shelter now; don’t know for how long; may be a long time.

All new rules, new routines. It’s on the far west side; it’s beautiful out here, lots and lots of trees. But it looks like, once I get transportation figured out, I’ll be going back downtown every day. My life has been centered downtown. I’ll be sitting outside Dunkin’ Donuts again, using their wi-fi; not sure how to busy myself when the tablet’s inside charging; may run an errand every day in search of permanent housing.

This is actually not a SHELTER, but a PROGRAM; a Housing First program, run by a prominent Catholic charity; the literature says they mean to get each person into permanent housing a.s.a.p. We’ll see how that works out.

The building is a former public school, built apparently for 1,000-2,000 students. Under normal circumstances, the cafeteria would seat 500. I had never heard of this school before; don’t know how long it operated, though it looks fairly new; don’t know why it closed down. A charter school took it over, but apparently not for long: the original public school signage is all still in place. Don’t know why that closed down, either.

There is currently no wi-fi here for me; there is also currently no PHONE. I’m told Comcast dropped the ball, and will fix it whenever they do.

Hot supper, OK. Cot with blanket; no sheet, no pillow. Still have to find out about clothes, showers, laundry. I have time.

I gather the shelter opened, as a shelter, about five weeks ago. Especially because of COVID, men have come here from other shelters all over the city. Quite a few were with me at my former shelter; many good guys. Others I have backgrounds with from there or from the street; some backgrounds more favorable, some less.

Overall, however, these are men who’ve never had to pay rent. That matters. At the shelter I stayed at before, we were charged $3 per person per night. Cuts into your budget for liquor or pot. I wonder how well Housing First works with people who don’t want to pay rent.

Some play loud music on their phones or other devices; and all the music they play expresses hostility, choosing not-love, the left-handed path, the ways of destruction. These are not the guys I’m used to. I may need to be more diligent and intentional about being light in dark spaces.

Two blog posts have been in draft awhile: “My ministry among the homeless” and “What great thing can I do?” (The links won’t work unless and until the specific posts are released.) They’re related; the latter may come to contain the former. For now, my ministry among the homeless may be the great thing I can do.

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