Unwelcome news at the shelter


Friday  2015-11-13

I will soon have to find somewhere else to stay at night.

And eat, shower, and get clean clothes.

As explained in a previous post:

The mission principally serves two groups.

First (in too many ways) are the “clients,” 450 men enrolled in the 12-month residential drug-and-alcohol treatment program; for which reason they are commonly called “programmers.” Each of them has a permanently assigned bunk and some form of closet space, and can use the mission as a mailing address.

I need to keep in mind that, but for the program, most of them would be homeless.

Second (in too many ways) are the “guests,” no more than 60 homeless men on any day, who are provided accommodations overnight; for which reason we are commonly called “overnighters.” We must vacate the premises no later than 6:00 a.m. daily, cannot leave anything behind, and cannot return until 3:00 p.m. We cannot use the mission as a mailing address.

There are other services made available to “clients” alone and not “guests.” Practically any conceivable need a “client” may have, the mission will meet: medical, dental, legal, job search assistance. None of that is available to “guests.”

As mentioned in another previous post:

When winter approaches, applications to the program skyrocket with men who have no desire to get clean, but instead merely want to escape the cold. Program membership may exceed capacity, so that the program comman-deers beds from the shelter. This may reduce the shelter’s capacity by half.

The shelter may fill to capacity at once when the gate opens. This situation strongly favors those who are idle all day long and so can afford to show up early and stand in line. Peacekeepers will come out immediately before the gate opens and count those in line. If 35 beds are available, only the first 35 will be admitted. This accounts for two of the three nights I spent around the corner.

Then there are the “regulars,” about 25 of us, as explained here.

Somehow, in 2015, program applications never fell off when the warm weather came.  All year, we’ve had some of our “overnighters'” bunks occupied by “programmers.”

Last night there were 32 programmers, with six more expected today.

Last night also, we were told, given that cold weather is coming and program applications are certain to rise, that no program applicant is going to be turned away.   “Regulars” will not be protected.  They will commandeer all our bunks, if need be, to let programmers in.

That means no more “overnight.”

A few weeks ago, I obtained authorization to lead chapel from time to time.  I’ve currently targeted the second Tuesday and third Friday of each month.  As with the community prayer service I lead each Saturday at church, I’ve chosen to have each service begin with singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” and end with “This little light of mine.”

Some of the men have been puzzled by that choice.

This morning I was explaining the news about housing, to the clerk at the little Pakistani convenience store in St. Paul Plaza where I buy my smokes.  My last words in that conversation:

“Something good will happen.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands.

Related: I stay at the best shelter on the East Coast

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4 thoughts on “Unwelcome news at the shelter

  1. If you enroll in the Program, are you able to leave during periods throughout the day to work? Upside is you have a guaranteed spot for next 365 days. Downside could be that you are stuck in meetings for nearly entire day which limits your ability to look for work …

    1. Whew! I had wondered if you were still following this blog.

      For the first six months in the Program, there’s no such thing as “looking for work.” The first 45 days are a “blackout,” during which time one cannot leave the premises at all, cannot use a cell phone, cannot do various other things. The function of that time is to orient a person who’s coming straight out of lawless active addiction: “You’re here now. Is recovery something you really want? Or would you rather walk?” (Keep in mind: these guys are coming from a context where there have been no laws, no rules, no directions to follow, no requirements to observe, etc. It’s been, do what you want, when you want, and f**k anyone who suggests otherwise.)

      The rest of one’s first six months are divided into two phases, called “Alpha” and “Omega.” One is allowed various times away from the premises; is required to attend some religious classes and other classes; is required to attend a certain number of Twelve Step “meetings” each week (Five or seven, I think.); and is assigned “work therapy,” which is on-site, normally full-time, and completely “volunteer.”

      After six months, one enters “Life Prep,” which has other requirements, but one is permitted to seek full-time, paying work off-site.

      Premiere eligibility criterion for the Program is active addiction. I’ve been “clean” now for nearly 20 years.

      Anywhere I might wind up where I could come and go as I please, would permit me to work any shift. It is, generally, very difficult to find any job with hours that fit “Overnight’s” schedule. The option I’m looking at most seriously is [Name redacted 12/07/15],* which is residential, has a good reputation vis a vis its facilities, and is strongly oriented towards helping you find work.

      *See “This program turned me away,” due for release 12/19/15.

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