BE A GOOD ROOM MATE AT THE SHELTER



Like our other Pages, this is an ongoing project.  
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THIS PAGE HAS BEEN UPDATED DECEMBER 2015


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WE THINK BEING IN A HOUSING PROGRAM CAN BE THE OPPORTUNITY YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR IF IT TURNS INTO HOUSING *** or, OK, a job that is good enough for you to rent or buy on your own.   WE WANT HOMELESS PEOPLE TO GET OUT OF THE STREET HOMELESS and SHELTER HOMELESS LIFESTYLES BECAUSE WE THINK THOSE ARE KILLING LIFESTYLES.

Maybe you're hoping to be taken in by a shelter, maybe you're already in one.  Maybe it's a COLD WEATHER SHELTER where you're on a cot in an armory or gym, where you have to come and go every day.  Maybe you're in more of a program, a YEAR ROUND SHELTER. 

You do have something in COMMON with all the people sleeping around you.  You are all HOMELESS, at least right now. 

Some of these people understand you better than anyone you ever knew before you were homeless.  They know about cold nights, lack of sleep, walking for hours every day, and police harassment.  They may  have applied at many shelters, just like you.

If you're lucky you may actually make a real friend or two from the experience of homelessness.

SO HERE YOU ARE NOW.

If you were in your own home, apartment, or even your own RV before you became street or shelter homeless, a shelter may be a STEP DOWN to get a STEP UP

People are sharing information in the shelter just like they do on the street.  They'll be talking about the shelter - the management, the social workers, and the other residents.  Some they love, some they hate.  You may hear the truth about the people and the place or you may hear a lot of B.S.   You may realize that some of the other residents are full of shit.  Our opinion is that you don't want to be totally out of the loop when it comes to valuable information but listen and don't be too quick to believe everything you hear. 

Until you experience it, you may not know what to believe. 

Some of the people you now live with at the shelter may be competing, trying to impress case managers who may hold the key to getting housing or whatever it is you came for.  (This competition can be really ugly and includes sabotaging others, being the brown nose who reports information, even lies, to management to get other people kicked out, and worse.) 

You were hoping it would be more like all for one and one for all!

YOU NEED TO SURVIVE THIS SHELTER and not just SURVIVE IT but MOVE ON AND UP...

How to?

If you're at a COLD WEATHER SHELTER, you soon learn the drill.  You will be up with the sun, or earlier, you will knock down your own cot, fold your blankets, maybe put some things aside in a plastic bag and leave it there with your name on it, hoping no one else will take it.  You'll get back there early too.   Your day may be spent in your vehicle, at the mall, at the library, in the park, or maybe at an employment service using their computers and resources to find work.  You just don't want to be caught "loitering."

If you're ambitious to end your homelessness, we know  you probably want to stay in the neighborhood you're familiar with, but our advice is to apply to every program you can qualify for.  There is something called an information sharing database.  We don't think you should tell every program you applied for that you applied to others, but we think that once you are entered into this information sharing database they can look it up. We are not sure, but we know people who were told that agreeing to being in a database was easier, or better for them and we think you may wish to OPT OUT.

You may have to stand in line every afternoon or evening, not knowing if you're getting a cot/ bed or not.  You get in, you put up your own cot. You may get a shower, and you may have a early dinner donated maybe by a church, and you may leave with a bag lunch in the morning. 

But then,  you do it all over again and again!

TO US COLD WEATHER SHELTERS are just HOLDING TANKS

Staying at a COLD WEATHER or TEMPORARY SHELTER is probably safer than being on the street at night, if they have GOOD security.  (If you are not SAFE THERE it SHOULDN'T BE CALLED a "SHELTER!)
 
You may get some referrals (endless rounds) or some other programs may send people around in vans to pick you up and have you go apply (do intake) but it's not a good place to be looking for a job from, especially not if the kind of work you do requires you dress well.

If you're in a PROGRAM, well, it depends on the program, what they say they will do for you, what they require of you, and so on.  (See our Page QUESTIONS FOR A SHELTER!)

Let's say that you are now assigned a room or apartment with several room mates.  We're going to hope that you have some space to hang up washed and ironed clothing, some space to call your own.  That they have a washer, dryer, iron and ironing board anyone can use.  Maybe, finally, you can put an interview and work wardrobe together and maybe, if you're lucky, they actually have someone to help you find a job.

Now what? 

YOU GOTTA SHARE SPACE!
(Also called "Having Healthy Boundaries!")

THIS IS LIKE BROTHERS AND SISTERS sharing a room but more INTENSE because these people are strangers!   They're from different backgrounds, races, religious beliefs, and experiences.  If you met them in different circumstances you might not want to be friends.

TRY TO MAKE THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE POSITIVE AND THIS PLACE A PEACEFUL HAVEN! 

It can be a place of healing but that's at least partly up to you!

1) OBEY LIGHTS OUT

First thing is, OBEY LIGHTS OUT.  If you get home after lights out, don't wake everyone up going into the room and getting into bed.  TIP TOE, WHISPER if you have to talk. 

SLEEP IS HEALING. (Lack of sleep, stress, is associated with acquiring diseases including diabetes.)

SLEEP IS SOMETHING EVERYONE NEEDS. 

No cell phone calls after lights out.  No radio or music without earphones and the sound level should be low enough that no one else can hear sound coming out of them.  No TV or movies at all cause the flickering screen light will drive people crazy even if you do wear earphones.  If you make noise you can control (snoring doesn't count!) during lights out, you're making enemies.  If you don't care if you make enemies instead of friends you need therapy to get over yourself and your selfishness.  (It really isn't ALL ABOUT YOU!)

You  might be surprised just how much we hear about rude, hostile, and gone nuts room mates.  We've heard about women who are doing phone sex with their men and could care less if other people hear them!   We've heard of late-comers who pretty much crash inside, doing things like putting all the lights on or the heater way up (who cares if other people wake up covered in sweat?), or have other people in and party, even girlfriends they have sex with in front of other men in dorms!

(If you're in your own RV why would you want to trade that lifestyle in for this?)

Hey, if you were God's Gift would you be HOMELESS?

Be considerate while you can, and then when you can't, like maybe when you're sick or having a hell day, they'll give you a break.

2) YOUR STUFF IS YOUR STUFF, THEIR STUFF IS THEIR STUFF!

DON'T BORROW  SOMEONE ELSE'S CLOTHING, PERSONAL CARE SUPPLIES, or anything, without specifically ASKING THEIR PERMISSION each and every time.  They aren't home to ask?  Then don't!   Not the shampoo just this once or just a little of the bottle of nail polish remover.  If you need things you can't afford then ask your case manager to help you! That's their job!

Remember that this other person is probably as broke as you and their stuff came at a price for them.  The shelter probably has some donations of clothes and personal care supplies and there are giveaways.  We know it's funky but that's better than nothing.  So if someone lets you wear their sweats, hey, wash and dry them before you give them back! Worse story we heard was about a guy who refused to bath and stunk up the room and who kept "borrowing" a clean persons DEODORANT to cover up his greasy stink!

Your room mates will love you if, when there are clothing donations to pick from or giveaways you bring back something for them when they can't be there.  But don't hoard and don't take things to give to your girlfriend, family, or other people who don't live there!  That stuff was donated to help the residents!

DON'T GO THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE'S THINGS. 

DO NOT STEAL!

3) KEEP YOUR OWN SPACE NEAT AND CLEAN, COOPERATE ON CLEANING COMMON AREAS.

TAKE YOUR TURN AT CLEANING THE BATHROOM and check to see if you've left any hair that needs to be cleaned up after you shower or shave. Give it the once over.  We've heard of women who left gobs of hair just to get at another person and let them know they thought of them as the housekeeper.  We also heard of people being driven crazy by room mates who have germ phobias and overuse Clorox and other cleaning fluids or used tons of spray in the bathroom.  (Open the window or burn a match!)

When you share a bathroom, you can't take very long showers or tub baths while other people are in need of using the toilet.  Holding people up so they have to go walk down the street to a fast food restaurant or store is mean.  So is banging on the door when you don't need to go just to hurry someone up who just got in there.  That's just looking for a fight.  But yea, we've heard of people who don't just take a three hour soak but also goo up the tub with the bath oil and then don't scrub it, letting their room mates who shower next to slip and slide.

COME TO A MUTUAL DECISION ABOUT THE USE OF PERFUME, SPRAYS, CLEANING FLUIDS, etc.  Some people are sensitive or allergic.  Try having a cleaning schedule, maybe each person cleans the bathroom once a week.

Don't clean someone else's  space.  STAY OUT OF THEIR SPACE, even if it's no more than a dresser drawer!

If it really is truly funky ask a case manager to deal with it - that's their job.  If it's just messy or cluttered or you think someone else has too much stuff, maybe you're a neat freak but it's none of your business.

IF YOU HAVE A PET, it is up to you to clean its cage, clean up if it has any accidents with appropriate cleaner, take it for walks, etc.


4) DON'T LEAVE FOOD GARBAGE AROUND the property or eat in your room if it's against the rules.  Take left overs to the proper garbage can or dumpster and sweep up the crumbs cause you don't want roaches or bed bugs.   BED BUGS that you can take with you everywhere you go are a big problem at shelters and usually to get rid of them they have to keep spraying.  These little vampires can go for a couple years without sucking your blood. They, unlike roaches, actually have little to do with dirt or grime but a lot to do with finding hiding place near their prey!  You! 

Does a landlord really want to rent to someone who is going to bring BED BUGS into their building and cost them a fortune in spraying? NO! 

Ever go on an interview and watch a ROACH crawling on your suit?


5)  SMELL GOOD.   YOUR PERSONAL CLEANLINESS is IMPORTANT TO THOSE AROUND YOU.

This may be your first opportunity in a long time to shower often, shave, apply makeup, get your hair cut, have nice nails, or to have a sense of style.

Some members of the homeless community have gotten used to smelling human.  But when you're living close to other people, we think you should be showering - a good scrub - no less than once a week, twice a week is better.  Be sure you do what your mama told you when you were growing up and sink bath the smelly parts, change your underwear and socks daily, and don't let your dirty laundry bag sit too long!

GRANDMA used to say "NOTHING IS CHEAPER THAN SOAP!"
 


6) YOUR SUBSTANCE USE AND ABUSE IS NOT WELCOME HERE!

YOU PROBABLY AREN'T SUPPOSED TO DO DRUGS, SMOKE POT, OR DRINK BEER in the room, on the campus, or at all, even if you aren't in a REHAB and even if you personally do not over do it.  You or your room mates may be out of a rehab or in AA and not need the temptation. If you have medical marijuana, the smell of smoke may make some people sick, just as cigarette smoke can.  DON'T DO IT IN THE ROOM.  DON'T  MAKE YOUR ROOM MATES COVER FOR YOU, LIE FOR YOU, OR GET IN TROUBLE FOR YOU. 

(If you have to sneak your stuff, do it far away!)


7)  START OUT  NICE! IF YOUR ATTITUDE STINKS YOU'RE A LOOSER.  DON'T BE A "HATER!"

BE NICE TO EVERYONE, even if you don't have much in common after all with someone else you have to share a room with. The last thing you need to spend your energy on is problems with room mates.  Don't be that toxic person that other people think of as Poison.

PLEASE and THANK YOU are still the magic words. 

Being nice doesn't mean you have to be close personal friends or share all your private business and it doesn't mean you take shit from people.
 
(More on that in a moment!)


8) DON'T INDULGE IN MEAN GOSSIP.
What goes around comes around.   Do you really want to be thought of or known as a gossip? Besides don't you have something better to do with your time, like trying to get well, finding at least a part time job, or taking a self improvement class? 

Don't sit around watching people and talking against other people all day. 
Get moving!  Get a life! 


9) DON'T BLAST YOUR MUSIC. CUT THE NOISE POLLUTION!

NOT FROM YOUR CAR IN THE PARKING LOT EITHER.  Maybe no one is home in your room/apartment but what about the people you share a wall with?  What about people who have jobs and have to sleep somehow through the day or on their day off? There are just as many people who hate rap music as there are those who hate symphony orchestras.   WHAT KIND OF TENANT WILL YOU BE IF YOU BLAST MUSIC IN PARKING LOTS OR IN YOUR APARTMENT?  The kind that the landlord wants to evict.  You think people are picky when they aren't paying rent?  Wait till you try that with someone who is paying rent!  They will be to the building manager so quick!

So practice being respectful of others now.


10) DON'T READ ANY MAIL OR LETTERS LEFT FOR SOMEONE ELSE ON THEIR BED or AT THE MAIL PICK UP.

That is SPYING and it can also be considered MAIL THEFT.   Once again, their mail or communications from Social Services, the case manager, anybody, is not your business.  Case Managers are wrong to leave anything on your bed that isn't in a secure sealed envelope.  With all the identity theft issues going on, with you trying to rebuilt your screwed up credit, you'd hope they would be smart enough know better but they aren't always.

(We strongly feel that shelters should provide individual mail boxes, not use general delivery, especially those that expect their residents to find work.)


11) DON'T BECOME MANAGEMENT'S SPY.

Do not get involved in spying for a case manager about their client.  It is unethical and unprofessional for any case manager or management to ask you to spy for them and nothing but trouble for you.   People do find out who is doing it and sometimes this can mean being revenged.  (We hear Bible Study Leaders are informants!)   Case managers should not be sitting out with residents to talk about someone else.  They should not be asking other residents to diagnose someone's mental health - there are clinics for that.  THAT'S AN INVASION OF A PERSON'S MEDICAL RIGHTS and PRIVACY RIGHTS.  It's using other people to "manage" someone else.

Case managers/management should not be asking other residents to seed the rumor mill or to pressure another client to do something wrong, like fake illness to get benefits. We know of someone who experienced several other residents at a big shelter in the San Fernando Valley doing just that.  (Since when is someone who is Disabled for Mental Illness in the position to try and force someone who isn't Mentally Ill to commit fraud?)


12) RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE'S RELIGIOUS CHOICES.  If you're at a shelter that is religion based, this may not be an option, but there are shelters that are not religious based.  The best way to show respect is to keep your religious beliefs to yourself.  That means, sure you can pray or say a mantra but DO SO QUIETLY.  Ask your case manager for bus tokens to get to church or temple. Go to services outside the shelter.  Why?  Because you should be getting back into main stream society, be meeting people from all walks of life, and because some church congregations do help people find work and a place to live.  Expand your connections so then you won't be as dependent on the shelter.

Don't blast your religious programing on a radio or TV when other people are trying to read or sleep in some effort to convert someone.  Their soul is their business.  Maybe you're just rude and who wants to be you anyway? 

SHOW HOW GREAT YOU ARE BY THE WAY YOU LIVE, THE POSITIVE WAY YOU TREAT OTHERS, and maybe then someone will ASK you what turns you on about God. Otherwise, are you really ready to get into a discussion with someone about religion, give them equal time to preach at you coming from a different view point or do you just want to dominate them with your religion that you think is better than all others?

WORK ON YOURSELF - NOT THEM!

Here are some things you could be dealing with besides the "mandatory."  You could be going to AA or CA or Overeaters Anonymous.  You could clean up your foul language.  You could be learning to use a computer at the library.  You could be exploring your spirituality by going to various services all around town.

13) Go to Twelve Step Meetings somewhere else.  We say this because, like church, classes, and other opportunities to get out of the shelter and into some other activity besides sitting around, eating, and WAITING, you should be trying to get back into main stream society and making connections with people in all walks of life.  We hear that there are some 12 step groups THAT WILL FIND THEIR MEMBERS EMPLOYMENT WITH OTHER MEMBERS.

14)  Do not loan money.  Do not borrow money.  Do not give expensive gifts.  Do not take expensive gifts.   Seems every shelter has someone who is borrowing money all the time, owes hundreds of dollars to one or many, and will never pay up.  There are always some users who are going to exploit softies. We hate to say it, but especially those who are buying and using drugs. When you're supposed to be living there to save up for rental deposits, there is no way you should be gifting or loaning hundreds of dollars from your SSI checks or your pay to other residents, even if they claim to be your girlfriend.

It's up to you if you want to use your EBT to buy other people soda or if you want to share cigarettes, or sell them from your pack, or give someone else bus tokens or bus money.  Socially this small sharing can be real important.

See our list below on some of the KIND things you could be doing to get along with others at the shelter, especially those you have to sleep in the same room with.
 WHEN DO  YOU GO TO A CASE MANAGER?

15) TRY TO  PEACEFULLY RESOLVE ANY ISSUES TOGETHER BEFORE GOING TO CASE MANAGEMENT but if that does no good, or you've got room mates who don't consider you because you're the odd man out, then go to SECURITY and to CASE MANAGEMENT.  Follow their process but we STRESS THIS - PUT IT IN WRITING - KEEP COPIES.  Then if they do nothing you have built your paper trail and you can hand that over to a lawyer.

We think you should do your best to be friendly and cooperative with others OR AT LEAST STAY OUT OF THEIR WAY.  Sabotaging someone else is REALLY BAD KARMA!  But there are some things no one should put up with!

TELL YOUR CASE MANAGER if there is garbage piling up, you see rats, bedbugs, roaches, bird droppings - any HEALTH DEPARTMENT issue.  (You could call the Health Department but let them know first!)

TELL YOUR CASE MANAGER if your room mate has threatened you or someone else and you were a witness.  If the person seems to be a harm to themselves, like if they are starving themselves, might kill themselves or someone else, they need intervention.  The intervention is the job of the case manager!

TELL YOUR CASE MANAGER if someone seems to be off their psych meds.  We know that some people who are on these meds may have been misdiagnosed or wrongly medicated and we know that some people don't want to believe they need the meds.  But if your room mate seems to be having a personality change really you might be the first person to notice what could end up with a hospitalization.  Not that you can diagnose, but if someone was cool but is now bouncing off the walls and making threats, what are you waiting for?

Any UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR.    You can become involved in criminal prosecution and activity without really trying to or wanting any involvement simply because your room mate gets busted.  We heard about someone who is in trouble because their room mate was holding heroin for someone else.  The whole room was searched.  Some people are not beyond putting their drugs in your possessions.  So if you know or think that a room mate is going into your space or going through your stuff, we think you should tell a case manager!

HAVING A LOVER IN THE ROOM WHEN OTHER PEOPLE ARE THERE.  Sex is a private matter so this is a good time to rent a motel room or go somewhere else.

If the room/apartment is only for men or only for women then YOU MAY NOT HAVE ANYONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE ROOM, even if they are friends. 

This is for the comfort of others who may use the bathroom, shower, or want to be comfortable in a nightshirt. It's also about rape prevention.

Yes, there are rapes at shelters.   It's not only heterosexual rape.

There are criminals who target mentally ill people, people on meds who are a little out of it.  We've heard of men getting women into vans to rape them.  We've heard of men pimping out women in vans.

And we've heard that shelters try to cover this and other criminal activity up. 

So if you get raped, get to the hospital and make a police report ASAP!

DON'T PUT UP WITH...


BEING STALKED or SEXUALLY HARASSED.  You can date but be careful.  Be sure you're using protection - rubbers - each and every time you have sex.  This is not the time to get pregnant when you're struggling to take care of yourself.  You NEVER want to get a STD - there is a herpes epidemic in LA and HIV - AIDS is deadly and still out there!

BEING PHYSICALLY TOUCHED or BEING BEATEN UP.  If you tell someone not to touch you they should respect that.

BEING VERBALLY ABUSED.  Sometimes it's not the foul language, it's anything meant to deny you your humanity or hurt your self esteem.  (For instance you should not be calling anyone "nigger" or use terms on others like "cracker ass.")

BEING INTIMIDATED by others in the room so that you can't actually use the room equally for sleep or other purposes.  We hear too much about rooms where one person, sometimes someone with experience in prison, who does all sorts of things to dominate the room.

IF A CASE MANAGER/SHELTER MANAGEMENT WILL NOT HELP YOU WITH THESE ISSUES or PUTS UP WITH RESIDENTS WHO DO THEM, then they are PART OF THE PROBLEM, incompetent, unqualified, or have lost their own personal moral compass and THEY SHOULD BE FIRED.  (WE THINK AUTHORITY FIGURES SHOULD ACT PROFESSIONALLY AND BE LEADERS!)

We're often asked what a person should do besides run to a security guard, a case manager, etc.,  if there is a threat to their safety or peace of mind.

HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS:

IF YOU ARE IN THERAPY, your therapist is SUPPOSED TO BE SUPPORTIVE.  So if you find you are telling your therapist you're being abused and they just listen and then bill the state for listening, WHAT GOOD IS IT?  Mental Health is supposed to place people in shelters that are SAFE.  They are supposed to talk to management for you as well.  So if this is you, ASK YOUR THERAPIST what, if anything, they are doing on your behalf.

SADLY IN LA WHAT WE HEAR IS THAT MENTAL HEALTH CLINICS and useless therapists are VERY MUCH A HUGE PART OF THE PROBLEM.  It's hard to believe some of these people are educated!  Who knows what kind of screwy life they lead when they aren't getting paid for listening and doing nothing.

It's STRANGE to us that in therapy you are supposed to be working on improving your self esteem yet some therapists have this "what do you expect, you live in a shelter" attitude when you look to them for support, and are also very much part of the problem, especially when they expect you to put up with being abused. 

So, we think if the situation for you at your shelter is real bad you have no choice but to file complaints with the police and we know it's hard to believe they will help you.   Also those of you who are disabled or seniors may contact ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES if you are being abused by management or other residents.****  To cover your own butt is important and there may be a good outcome.  For instance, if you are a woman being abused at a shelter, and this could be by women as well as men, you may qualify for a smaller, safer program for abused women.

Now we've heard of a shelter where if a "client" says they are going to the police or getting a lawyer, they kick you out, because they don't want the police knowing how bad it is. 

THEY DON'T WANT TO BE ON THE POLICE BLOTTER.  THEY DON'T WANT THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO KNOW!  (It really is tough to get a shelter going.  Most neighborhoods don't want them.) 

SECURITY GUARDS are also part of the problem.  We tell you to go to them if you're having issues with a room mate or other resident but a Shelter may have NO security, BAD security, CRIMINAL security, or JOKE security. 

Here are the complaints we've heard about on the street:

SCREWEY SECURITY GUARDS

Security Guard are not supposed to be getting involved with clients/residents on a personal basis.  They are not supposed to date clients/residents, have sex with residents or stalk residents, just like Case Managers are not supposed to, and they sure as hell are NOT supposed to allow abuse or look the other way when crime is being committed.  So if a security guard is leaving love letters on your cot or bed then take the letter and go to case management!  We heard of one Guard who wasn't even fired when he got a mentally ill homeless woman pregnant.

Security Guards who are gang members and look the other way when other gang members are beating people up in rooms.

Security Guards who play favorites of people of their own race, for instance tucking in someone who comes in drunk and abusive of their own race while reporting someone else who comes in drunk of another race and getting them kicked out.

Security Guards who take bribes to look the other way when people go out to prostitute.

SOMETIMES you simply have to make your complaint with the police or get your lawyer without threatening to.  YOU HAVE A MUCH BETTER LEGAL CASE if the shelter management kicks you after you've already done it.  You may also want to stress to the police that you may experience revenge for reporting criminal behavior.   (See our side bar for some legal info.  LEGAL AID is WORTHLESS for most of this by the way!)

We know that what you really want to do is MOVE FORWARD and we're sad that the realities of shelter life can be so NOT SUPPORTIVE!  That's why when we hear "SUPPORTIVE SERVICES" we have to laugh, because management being SUPPORTIVE is NOT about sending you on referrals to other non-profits when they can't do what they say they are in business for or keep their side of the bargain and get you housing.  At shelters the BUCK REALLY SHOULD STOP RIGHT THERE!  (And we wonder where they get the bucks and how they spend the bucks!)

(BUT BEFORE YOU GO THERE, Read From the Top of this article!)

*****

There are some SWEET THINGS YOU CAN DO for other homeless, including the ones you're sharing space with that can help calm tensions.   Stress and anxiety have probably eaten away at your own health and theirs too, and people who might be real nice in a better situation can be upset. Shelters that have bad management and think they are controlling people by threatening people with being kicked out for not performing miracles, or make "clients"/ "residents" compete with each other for housing and other benefits, or who are not fair, are at fault for causing problems between residents as well.  (As soon as a case manager is willing to play favorites some resident is going to play that favorite!)

*****

BEING KIND AND CONSIDERATE ALSO INCLUDES:

1) If you did do or say something dumb or wrong APOLOGIZE!

2) ACKNOWLEDGE someone else's accomplishments.  Say Happy Birthday, congratulate them on a year in AA, for finishing probation, or when they get a job or their child just graduated!

3) THANK them when they do an extra good job of cleaning the bathroom or when they bring something back for you from the give-away table.

4) Be KIND when they're sick in bed.  Bring them some juice or tea or run a small errand for them.

5) SHARE leads on jobs, let them borrow something to wear on an interview, help them do their hair.

One person told us this:  "I'm amazed at the miracle of the turn around of one of my roomies.  I lit into her because she kept us all up crying night after night.  I was just so tired.  Then she said she was sorry and explained what it was.  We all gave her a little support and encouragement.  She just needed to let the pressure out.  She started sleeping when she knew we weren't all against her.  We all needed to exhale."

*** We think a shelter that claims to get you housing should do that within one year of taking you in.  Any more than that and you're probably wasting your time, getting your hopes up for nothing.

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