metal door handle on a red door

The cruelty of Teasing Families With Potential Housing

I have to go out shortly. We have to go and look at yet another apartment, that we probably won’t get. Hardly anyone from the shelter has actually been housed, even though almost all of us who have been here a long time have rental subsidies approved. There needs to be a manifesto of kindness, a clearly understood checklist that those who work with the long term homeless need to adhere to. Homeless people are human beings. The families here all need help to make sure the children who are also homeless have a chance at life, and the cycle of suffering is not perpetuated into the next generation.

There are things the shelter does well. Individual rooms which have personal bathroom and shower facilities. The privacy is not absolute, but there is at least the ability to shut the door and shower and live without being watched by other people. This is not the case in many shelters. This has been the factor that makes the other less bearable things a little more tolerable.

I have looked at so many places, and not been offered a single one of them. It is beyond ridiculous that after four applications the homeless person has to find the application fees. These fees in San Francisco are around $50 per application with no guarantee of getting the apartment. I have help from a good friend, but this is a real barrier to people getting housed. Homeless people in a shelter simply cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars that they just don’t have, applying for places they will not get. The process of rehousing people is marred by rules and bureaucracy that puts barriers between people who have worked the program, have done everything they can to co-operate, and successful re-entry to housed society.

I have been sent out to places only to be told that the apartment is not covered by the subsidy program, wasting my time and energy. I have been sent out to places which are tiny 200 square foot rooms, not enough room for two beds and a table in there, let alone also me and a teenage boy. I have been sent to places that are suitable and covered, only for the worker not to make an effort with the application, and thus turned down, losing my application fee. It is a huge drain on the Boy, and a source of upset for us both. Imagine dangling a tasty snack in front of a starving animal and then snatching it away. It is inhumane, it is teasing, it is cruel and lacking in decency and empathy.

We have been sent out to the worst blocks of the Tenderloin, areas that are worse even than here, then accused of being fussy when there is no way we can live there safely, not with a teenage boy and my being a slightly built woman with PTSD. We deserve safety and respect. There is no respect for what we have been through. No kindness. We are seen as problems not people. There is no ‘resistance to assistance’ as they so condescendingly put it, merely a need to survive. We will not survive down there. We are happy to take a one bedroom that is large enough for the two of us. We are happy to be in areas which are not ‘nice’ as long as they are not downright dangerous. We are happy to work with people to get us in a place. None of this matters. All that matters is that the homeless are shined on, pushed out, denied actual housing and told to be content with the promise of housing and the threat of losing even this barely adequate shelter.

Not being able to cook, and also not fed food that I can eat without being sick has left me once again dropping weight and not able to keep it on. Having to hide eating and cooking is not humane! It isn’t even reasonable or healthy.

I suppose today will be a bust too. I don’t even want to look at it. I am tired of looking and not ever getting housed. I am tired of being grateful without being heard. Who knows, perhaps today will lead to a miracle. All I can do is hope, but I am fast running out of even that.


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