http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/9510 This Real Change story has some great insight into the necessity of homeless encampments.
Tag Archives: experiences on the streets
Adult content. Copyrighted material.
The brick exterior of the massive asylum building towered over Vic as he slipped around its contours. He peered into some of the windows as he made his way to the place were the Day Room was on his map. Moonlight shone into the large windows and gave Vic a clear view of each room’s contents. Cheap, broken furniture lay scattered beneath ornate windows and graceful high ceilings. Sweeping oak staircases hovered over checkerboard tile floors warped from water damage.
Vic was overcome by how the decay, erosion, and splendor, all mixed into each other. He also wondered about the total senselessness in erecting enormous buildings and then finally abandoning them altogether. Letting them stand and rot, unwanted and forgotten; while the former residents were put out into the street to fend for them selves, as mentally ill people still are, in many cases. If the ‘system’ was wrong, why couldn’t anybody fix it? Vic shuttered from a chill. The wind blew from the East. Vic knew it was bad weather wind. He hoped any rain would come down later in the night, when he was finished with what he had to do.
The directions on the map lead him to the door that entered the Day Room. The doorway was a tangle of vines. Vic used his pocketknife to cut through the mass before he could open the door. Stepping into the ramshackle building, he felt the crunch of debris under his shoes. He was worried about the beam of his flashlight being seen from the outside, so he wrapped his handkerchief around it to dim the light.
The enormous room was a jumble of peeling paint, shattered glass, and littered objects. A large ornate arched window lay at the far end, but tracing the way to it was a set of cheap florescent light fixtures from the 1960’s. Vic glanced at Trudy’s map and tried to figure out where the Main Hall was. Finally, he found the interior passageway. It was lined with doors and had very few windows, so he could remove his handkerchief from his flashlight and let the beam shine brighter.
Vic’s intended destination was Dr. Max Woodruff’s office. He wanted answers that could only be found in Dr. Max’s files. Maybe he could find copies of the pictures that were in the file box that he had found in Ralph’s trunk, and later lost. With that evidence in hand, he could go to the police and put an end to Doctor Woodruff and Nurse Witenganz’s unethical experiment.
Walking through the Main Hall, Vic wondered how long it would take him to find the right room. There must have been more than a dozen doors along the hall. Most of the rooms were tiny. Were they used for treatments, isolation, or counseling? Vic couldn’t tell. Some doors were partially open and Vic peered into them for just a few seconds. Many of the small rooms held strange equipment and Vic could only guess what the machines were used for. One room held some kind of apparatus with electronic switches and cables running from it. There was a gauge in the shape of an arc, the danger zone marked in red. A table with arm and leg restraints was nearby. Vic guessed that this was the electro-shock room. He stared at the sweat stained leather restraint straps.
At that moment, a creak came from outside the door in the hall. Turning the flashlight off, he stood in the darkness for a few seconds. Thoughts of the three zombies he had encountered the first night he was at Brightbrook came to his mind. Vic’s heart was beating at a rapid pace. He listened and waited. No other sounds came, so slowly he walked back out into the hall and looked around carefully. Another creak came. It was the wind blowing through a broken window pane disturbing the door of another room.
Relieved, Vic progressed down the hall. He saw a door that had the sign ARCHIVES on it. He turned the door knob and cringed at the loud creak it made when he opened it. The room was filled with large, dust covered medical reference books. He stepped into the room and surveyed the shelves that were sagging under the weight of the massive volumes. Wiping the dust off of some of the bindings, he read the long ponderous titles with words like anatomy and psychiatry, blended in the mix. He flipped through pages of a few books sitting on a large table. The musty smell forced him to close the outdated volumes with crumbling pages.
Taking notice of a peculiar set of framed objects on the wall, he moved closer to get a better look. Vic was stunned when he realized they were human brains, thinly sliced and pickled in some preserving solution. He removed one of the framed brain sections from the wall and studied the gray form. Each frame gave a patient’s number, the mental illness they suffered from and, a brief description of what caused their demise. The typewriter imprinted card on the frame he was holding gave an account of patient #303’s slow and painful death. Having some medical knowledge in the Marines as a medic, his eyes scanned the card. Stroke… contractures… sepsis… gangrene… death. Seeing the words contractures, sepsis, and gangrene indicated to Vic that the patient suffered a long, painful, and avoidable death. Basically, a stroke patient was left unattended in a bed, in their own filth, for long periods until their demise finally came.
He stared out the window as the impending storm tossed the tree branches. The moonlight defined the tree branches blowing around outside the window. The shadowy black shapes danced around the floor of the room and around him. Vic was absorbed with the terrifying thought that an absurd end such as this could happen to anyone, including Carter. Unexpectedly, the frame slipped from his grip and crashed to the floor. Within seconds, the smell of formaldehyde filled the room. Afraid that the noise had attracted someone’s attention, Vic swiftly left the archives and crouched behind a desk in the Main Hall. Minutes ticked by, but no one came. With a sigh of relief, he got up slowly and went to the open door of the archives room. The brain section of the anonymous mental patient lay on the floor. It glistened in the moonlight from the window as the shadows of the tree branches moved around it, and seemed to stroke it. Vic wiped the sweat off his hands and slowly closed the creaky door. His heart was pounding in his chest.
Quote from the article: “…people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness. Addiction does increase the risk of displacement for the precariously housed; in the absence of appropriate treatment, it may doom one’s chances of getting housing once on the streets.”
Check out the complete study:
I think libraries that have big issues with homeless people should designate a meeting room for their use. If it is obvious that someone is homeless (like when they are found dozing on the premises) security could direct them to the room. That space could also be used for classes and informational seminars that will help homeless people find shelter and work.
Combining the resources of these public and private services may be a good idea:
1. If someone uses their food stamps to “buy” a hot meal at a soup kitchen, those facilities will be funded AND the homeless person will have a hot meal (hot meals are currently not allowed under food stamps ).
2. If people using the food banks and soup kitchens are required to have a food stamp card to get services, there would be a system to track the people getting food. Then cases where people who “double and triple dip” into the system will be discouraged and more people can be served. I know a man who has food stamps, disability checks and every day he eats 3 meals at the free feedings at shelters, etc. AND he goes to the food bank for snacks. He is 400 pounds, at least!
3. If people were at the food banks to assist the homeless in filling out applications for food stamps, there would not be cases where homeless people are falling through the cracks.
4. Food stamp fraud would be greatly reduced, because people would have only a portion of the amount they get in food stamps available for shopping at grocery stores. Maybe 20%. The rest they would have to get at food banks. No more people paying homeless drug addicts to use their food stamps. No more people buying junk food and unhealthy food on Uncle Sam’s dollar. No more steak and lobster on food stamps.
Sound good? Write your congressional representative or senator.
Just went by my old storage facility today. Glad I have a place now and don’t have to rent a locker any more. It is awful when you can’t get to something and then have to dig 5 feet in to get to a box with the stuff you need in it. Sometimes you just end up buying another one of the thing you can’t find, but know you have. I think storage places would be a great place for the VA to put brochures about their services. Lots of homeless vets use lockers. Just an idea.
But, they seem to be getting worse. The state lawmakers have gotten back from their holiday break and the homeless abuse has began again. Yesterday a couple with 2 small girls got all their clothes and food taken from them. I hope all the new residents of this country (that are pushing for these kinds of sweeps) get a chance to experience the same sense of loss some day. They returned our welcome with such cold hearts, and I think it only fair.
As a psych major, I am always intrigued about how the subconscious affects human behavior. This is an interesting article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-big-questions/201203/person-or-object-the-case-homelessness
Glen James is our October Homeless Hero:
- Homeless Man Who Returned $40000 Finds Out That Karma Is Just The Greatest – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
- Selfless act paying off for Boston homeless man who returned bag of cash (bangordailynews.com)
- Boston Homeless Man With A Heart Returns Backpack With More Than $42,000! (huffingtonpost.com)
Finally. Read about what is being done and take action in your city and state.
- Homeless In America (brainsections.wordpress.com)
- The Homeless of L.A. (behance.net)
- 5 Screwed Up New Ways America Is Abusing the Homeless (rinf.com)
- What would you do if you were homeless? (revolvingdoorbook.wordpress.com)