Kvetching about homelessness


I don’t do this very often …

… but I’m up against a deadline, and this material is handy.  Other posts I’ve got on tap require more work.

I’m currently housed at a three-star hotel that the City took over to house homeless people during the COVID pandemic.  Before COVID, I stayed many times at a different hotel of the same chain; a once-a-month vacation from the shelter.

Here, they house one person to a room.  My room has two king-sized beds, a refrigerator, a 50-inch flat screen TV (which has never been on), desk, carpet, landline phone, cabinet with drawers, bathroom.  Ironing board, re: which more later.  Chest of drawers and clothes closet.  All told, it’s pretty damn nice, exactly like what I’d like permanently.  (I may get a permanent place in a few weeks; will say more about that as it gets closer.)

They bring us a modest breakfast, lunch and supper.  At lunchtime and suppertime, they take everyone’s temperature — a COVID precaution.

You’re free to come and go as you please — from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  I suppose if you arrive after 8:00 p.m., you’ll turn into a pumpkin.  There are adjustments to those hours for people who have jobs that require it.

Every time you enter the building, you get searched.  They wand you to be sure you don’t have any weapons.  You must empty your pockets onto a counter, and turn your pockets inside out.  If you have an open cigarette pack, they have to inspect that.  If you have a backpack or any bags, they inspect the contents.  The biggest inconvenience for me, here, is sometimes having to wait in line to be searched.  That’s common when it gets close to 8 p.m.

You cannot have any visitors in your room.

You can’t close your door while you’re in your room.  The doors automatically lock when closed, but you can only close the door when you leave out.  Staff also perform a “safety check” every hour, during certain hours, knocking on every open door.  The only reasoning I can see for this, is so that they can intervene if someone overdoses.

Males and females cannot ride the elevator together.  Some months back, some guy allegedly — well — so, that rule came in.

Things we can’t have:

  • Sharp objects.  I’m now about two months overdue for a haircut.  I could cut it myself, but we can’t have scissors.  At one point, I sneaked in some needles and thread; don’t recall how I did that.  They also somehow failed to confiscate my nail clippers.
  • Irons.  Under normal operations, each of these rooms is equipped with a microwave, clothes iron and ironing board; so hotel guests can cook food, and iron their clothes, obviously.  The microwaves were removed before I ever got here.  A couple months ago, they came around and removed all the irons.  Someone, somewhere, had misused one.
  • Weapons, obviously.
  • Bleach.  Used to could have it; used to could have it for laundry.  No more.  Someone splashed some on someone; and that was the end of that.
  • Glass bottles.  This is the one that prompted this entry.  Every 90 minutes, I go out for a smoke and buy some Starbucks iced coffee from the Royal Farms across the street.  I try to hang onto the bottle, so that I can recycle it after.  No problem if it’s a plastic bottle.  If it’s a glass bottle, God knows, I might zap out sometime and smash it to use as a weapon.

So, the other night, I coming in, with my glass bottle that they’re free to confiscate and put in the trash can by the door; or to tell me to put in the trash can by the door.  No, instead, the guard zaps out and says, “I told you not to bring those in here.  You might try to sneak one in.”  Well, hell, yeah, I’ll sure try to sneak one in so I can recycle it.

Related: Police brutality 1

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