Shelter

Funny, but not funny.

One of my homeless friends was really drunk last night. I’ve never seen him like this before, but I heard second hand about his problem. He was sitting in a chair outside – it was pretty cold. I offered him pizza, but he was not responsive. At all. Ten minutes later, I hollered at him. He opened one eye, looked at me and said, “I love you too much to kick your butt, but I want to kick someone’s butt.”…

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Homeless and healthcare

Danny slept outside the door of Nightwatch, while getting treatment for brain cancer. This week, I met Miles. He spends three days a week on dialysis. He sleeps in a tent. Dirk had all the usual aches and pains of a 73-year-old. These were amplified by having to sleep on a mat in a room with a bunch of other guys. The few times I’ve been laid low by surgery or illness – I’ve been in my own bed, with…

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Come inside

Come inside. We don’t care if you are addicted, mentally ill, or made dumb choices. Come inside. No one should have to sleep on city streets. Summer or winter Come inside. Lay your bones down and rest in peacefulness Knowing that tonight, you will be safe. Come inside. No college-kid will kick you here, No policeman will make you move, No property manager will cuss you out, Come inside. Soothe your troubled mind. You will be among friends. We will…

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Inconvenient

Apparently some folks in local government came to see one of the homeless programs after hours. It must have shook them. Some funding has been restored. It wasn’t our program, so I won’t name them. There’s something about looking into the faces of the people being served – old, physically worn, disabled, broken. This will clear bureaucratic fog, to meet some homeless people at 10:30 at night. Tell us what to tell homeless people at the end of the night…

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Earthy smells

Last night was the final night of the Boat Street shelter, staffed by workers from Compass Housing. The building will be torn down this month to give way to a community park on the edge of Seattle’s ship canal, near the University of Washington. In fact, it was a perfect set-up for a shelter – nice bathrooms in abundance, two large rooms, with plenty of space to spread out. But people have to have their park, I guess. Promises have…

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Roy the Bag-Bumper

Roy was a sweet guy – bright, articulate, with middle-class expectations and outlook. But he was homeless – and a hoarder. In the world of Nightwatch, you have to pack everything with you wherever you go. The shelters are just overnight flops. Our Dispatch Center, where people are fed and sent to shelters is way too full of people to take care of stuff. Roy had rigged up 3-4 bags which he slung across his shoulders. Duffle bags, various shapes…

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gomer

Last night an ancient one, barely able to walk shuffled across the wet sidewalk to the front door of Nightwatch. His cab ride was paid for by an exasperated hospital social worker. The hospital didn’t want him. The shelters are all full. The boarding house with cheap rent is torn down. He has no friend to call. No loving wife or sister or daughter with a couch, for a night or two. He has only the gray-wool blanket given to…

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Stereotypes? Nope.

Two weeks ago I returned from my Thursday night rounds, visiting homeless camps and shelters. It was about ten to midnight. At Nightwatch, all the homeless guests were fed and sent off to shelter. There was one last guy – a young man – sitting at one of the tables, pouring over a math textbook. He’s doing algebra problems. He cackles as he figures one out. I’ve been working with homeless people for more than 30 years. This was a…

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