Housing note

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

I’ve been moved into a hotel. I believe this pertains to COVID, which effectively halved the capacity of the shelter where I was. Once COVID is over, I will probably be moved back there, since its capacity will effectively double.

That’s if I don’t find normal housing first.

It’s a three-star hotel, the Holiday Inn Express right across the street from the Horseshoe Casino. It’s the same chain as my favorite hotel downtown; however, this is on Russell Street, a major thoroughfare through southwest Baltimore, that passes the stadiums and is quite a fur piece from downtown.

So my first concern was to find bus routes for the errands I must run. I have to pick up scripts at the CVS at 100 Wolfe Street; check my mail at Our Daily Bread, 725 Fallsway; and attend doctors’ appointments at my clinic at 1100 North Charles. I normally go to each of those places once a week, and I need to make some such trips as soon as possible. They’re all easy to get to from the Dunkin’ Donuts downtown, which was my base of operations; but from here? The bus routes Google Maps showed me were just impossible. Fortunately, I came upon an MTA web page that provides everything I need to know.

The wi-fi works just fine here. So I no longer HAVE TO go to DD daily for wi-fi. On Saturdays, I may just not go downtown at all. There’s a large Royal Farms
across the street where I can get just about anything I need — smokes, doughnuts, fried chicken (Now I can help pay for the Justin Tucker commercials.), iced mocha coffee (A big deal for me at DD.).

Two things they don’t stock are hand soap and hand sanitizer. There was no hand soap in the room when I arrived; I don’t know why; housekeeping doesn’t provide it, either; I don’t know why; you have to get it from the front desk. Hand sanitizer, I’ll get from the CVS; I need it to kill off nail fungus. No one around here provides napkins.

These things figured out, now I can relax and enjoy the room.

With working wi-fi, I can download all the movies I like. That is, working, unfiltered wi-fi.

This room is just like the studio or efficiency apartment I’d like for myself, only lacking the kitchen.

The City has basically taken over the whole hotel, leased it; it’s now a great big, big huge, homeless shelter, only with hotel rooms; one person per room. Some of the hotel functions, e.g. housekeeping, continue. A security guard sits at every intersection of hallways, and records the time and your room number every time you pass. The same thing also happens every time you enter or leave the building. You’re searched every time you enter the building. You cannot lock your room door except when you leave the premises.

Chicken bones on the carpet aren’t likely here.

Meals are delivered to your room. Everyone who’s in her or his room gets one. The food is good.

When I see other current residents of this hotel on the street, I recognize how very distant I am from the mainstream. Russell Street is six lanes of very heavy traffic, all those people in their own cars rushing to and from the places where they make and spend money. This whole area is upscale. It’s very clear we don’t belong. We stand out because of (1) our shabby clothes — Funny, I’ve never thought of our clothes as shabby, but they’re not what you expect to see around here. — and (2) our body language, kinesthetics — the limping, staggering, and other body-language indicators of the poor. This old man stood for several minutes in the middle of Bayard Street, 50 feet north of the intersection; in the middle of the street, mind you; just nodding; and then staggered, staggered, back to the hotel.

Where DO homeless folk belong?

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