We think any program that claims it gets housing for people should do that in ONE YEAR.
We think much more time than that and it's a lost cause.
Some shelters are using a lot of donation and government money for salaries for employees who don't even conduct themselves professionally or fairly. Just think. One person making $24,000 a year when that $24,000 could be used to give 24 people DEPOSIT MONEY FOR APARTMENTS. What does someone who is making $36,000 a year DO? How about $100,000?
Why spend years there in shelter hell saving money for deposits? They are busy getting government funds to build or buy buildings!
Probably because it's your only option.
We know the shock of loosing everything. We know what it's like to be totally exhausted and to keep moving. So we think at first when you get to a shelter you may be in a kind of shock. You may just need some time to GET SLEEP and GET WELL. However, the shelter itself is hell. It's noisy. You aren't protected from being victimized. Ambulances are coming in. People are snoring. Some idiot is blasting music. Someone is hitting on you or threatening to beat you up. The security guards are a joke.
But now you know where you're sleeping at night and maybe you're eating regularly now.
Then, maybe a few weeks or months into it, comes the day that you are there and on your feet more or less and your time you used to spend waiting in lines for food and all else has opened up. You are leaving your old life behind slowly.
Besides getting yourself signed up with a medical/dental clinic and health insurance and starting to take care of your health, you may want to...
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
DO NOT SIT AROUND GOSSIPING.
DO NOT THINK BEING A HATER and PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE DOWN is going to get you anywhere good.
Join a religious or spiritual church, temple, or other organization. This is a perfect time to go exploring to find a congregation you feel good with. Southern California in particular has religious and spiritual opportunities all over and they are free or require a couple dollars in the basket. We're not pushing you in any one direction and can totally accept that you may have had enough of religion, be a humanist, a pagan, or godless. Some of you may have been prayed upon countless times in order to eat or get church pantry groceries. No doubt about it, many religious people an organizations wish to convert you and seize upon your desperation to show you THEIR way! If we didn't post links to some of those opportunities on this blog, we wouldn't have much to post.
We are telling you just to be careful you don't get caught up in a cult. Some homeless have joined a cult just to have a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. It might even work for a while but are you really heading for housing if you're chanting on a street corner and panhandling for them instead of for yourself? BE CAREFUL OF CULTS
You should NEVER be in lock up at a shelter that isn't a drug or substance abuse rehab. But we did hear of one like that that is well funded by celebrities.
Someone we know escaped through a window.
WE JUST WANT YOU TO GET MOVING INTO A NEW LIFE WITH NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND NEW PEOPLE IN IT! Involvement in a church, temple, or other religious or spiritual organization sometimes means you have new network and with people who are trying to improve themselves and be good! Maybe it's time to try meditation!
Do volunteer work. Maybe you're too disabled to ever get a paying job again, but maybe volunteering a day or two a week or a few mornings is just the thing to IMPROVE YOUR SELF ESTEEM AND SELF CONFIDENCE and snap you out of that depression. Once in a while volunteer work turns into paid employment. Otherwise most shelters consider it a conflict of interest to go to work for them while you are living there.
Be sure that wherever you volunteer they at least have it set up that your work is acknowledged and that they give references and that you are covered if you have an injury on site. The volunteer work should be of the type that can go on your resume. Informal volunteering like just doing things for free because someone asked you or it's an expected part of living at the shelter doesn't count to the future because you may not want anyone to know you ever lived at the shelter. We've experienced it where someone makes a lot of promises, you do free work, and then they disappear. Find volunteer work with an organization or cause that you can relate to or really care about. It doesn't have to be a homeless charity. It's easy to find volunteer work. They all want free labor.
Redo your Resume. We haven't heard of any shelters that have really good resume writing and job placement help. Some offer phones, computers, computer print outs, and have someone supervising all this, but no, we just have not heard of any place to go that is going to get you a job. You may as well go to governmental places like a WORK SOURCE.
It seems to be mostly do it yourself and prove to us you're "trying." You can get a regular resume done at most job placement places like the ones the state runs for people on unemployment benefits and at some libraries. Sometimes though it takes a special person to kind of REIMAGINE what it is you've been doing and where you want to head. We're not saying lie on your resume. We're saying that there may be new lingo being used for the work you used to do and you don't know it. Maybe you never really knew how to show on a resume that you had a career track. You may have been underselling yourself. We still don't know if you should tell an interviewer you were homeless. We suspect that you should not say so on a first interview or if not asked about your living situation. We figure with background checks they can find out.
Talk to Department of Rehab. We last heard that they didn't have the funding to help everyone who asks for it but at least go to one of their introduction meetings and ask some questions. Find out what they want from you. They will probably tell you to apply when you already have health and housing stability. Both volunteer work and reeducation are a way to paid employment.
Improve your Wardrobe and Look. Very difficult if you're very overweight, get your clothes from giveaways or thrift stores, or if you have no money for good shoes. But if you've been wearing the same clothes for days between showers, let your roots grow out or are trucking around in flip flops, we still think you can improve your wardrobe and look bit by bit. At every shelter there is usually some person who you look at and think "wow! They're looking good." Maybe it's time to ask that person or a fashionable room mate to help you get your look together, dye your hair back to it's natural color, tell you if that dress fits or not or if that Foo-Manchu suits your face. If you are job hunting ask your Case Worker for any funds for a wardrobe available (and check at GR if you're in a back to work program with them), any referrals to places that give away suits or work search clothing, any special resources for vets. Check out beauty schools that offer discounted hair cuts. Get a referral from your health care provider for new eyeglasses.
Control your Diet! You're eating regularly now and are piling on the pounds with all that donated cake. Time to be grateful for the food you are given and then eat only the good stuff, like the veggies! so you can add years to your life. Gain or Loose weight to get back into the healthy zone with as healthy eating as you can manage. (Use your EBT to buy roasted chicken and more veggies!)
Quit Smoking! Ask your health care provider. There are special programs to help you quit.
Join a Twelve Step or Group Support Program. Another way to meet people, get some support with overeating, drinking, doing drugs, get over your sex addiction, coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, or whatever ails you is to join a Twelve Step Group or go for Group Support or Group Therapy. We have links for AA and CA on our sidebar, but the support groups out there are countless!
Clean up your Language. We recently overheard a person, newly homeless to Los Angeles, coming from the Deep South, start yelling at another person that they were "full of California Racist Bullshit" because this other person, a stranger, didn't want to loan a cell phone! Give us ALL a break! Live here a while and you'll learn Southern California is all mixed with so many different cultures, so many ethnicities and colors. The problem here is ECONOMIC INEQUALITY with the rich so very rich and the poor getting poorer all the time due to the cost of HOUSING. When we say CLEAN UP YOUR LANGUAGE, you know your language reveals a whole lot about your attitude and your values. Besides, a lot of people think that people who swear are just plain STUPID that they don't have more word choices. So Professor, start acting like it!
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