Maltreatment of our homeless will be resolved, one way or another

November 11, 2011

LETTER FROM BECKY JORGESON TO COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERS

I am disappointed every day of my life as I hear more stories of how, and more importantly why, homeless people are kicked out of the Prado Day Center.

For not doing being able to do a chore, one mentally challenged man can’t form a lucid sentence, so I see why it may be difficult for him to follow instruction. For calling another client a name. This told to me by a homeless man who I’m putting on the bus today to go back to Arkansas to be with his wife he hasn’t seen in six years, thanks to one of our own city councilman’s generosity.

The man was kicked out of Prado for life for calling another client a name. A tad harsh for this veteran who served for years in Iraq and saw more pain and heartache than I’d like to even think about — the homeless man with two purple hearts who has severe PTSD and can’t take meds due to their crippling side effects, for whom the V.A. will give no benefits because he can’t/won’t take those meds.

You have no idea how he’s suffered because of the inability of homeless services to handle people with mental disabilities. This man who we should be honoring for his service to us and our country, has been homeless on the streets for months with no money, no way to get a meal, other than standing by the fence at Prado at mid day to ask for a sack lunch like a child, in hopes that staff don’t call the police and have him arrested as they promise to do for trespassing. He has no way to shower, do laundry, make phone calls, or those other little niceties in life that the rest of us sometimes take for granted.

One man in our local government told me tonight that he’s gone round and round with management about how the homeless are treated and how they are kicked out of Prado way too often.

I realize there are rules, and natural and logical consequences. I know how difficult it is to deal with so many mentally ill people at the same time. I realize that there as to be some order or chaos will rule, but these people are being kicked out because no one can handle them. Some are people who grew up in foster care, or girls who have been raped by their fathers and had their baby. Some are bipolar, schizophrenic, personality disordered, and depressed; they are 290’s, 5150’s, felons, and teenaged moms; they have PTSD from the wars we send them to. They deserve better.

And this is but one story. And the real frightening question is if this size shelter can’t be run without kicking people out daily who need help, how will the homeless fare in a bigger shelter? I also see the ads in the Tribune all the time asking for food items, volunteers, etc.

I am greatly disappointed too, Biz Steinberg of Community Action Partners, I thought you’d be someone I could come to with this long term and never-ending problem. I went to Grace with four homeless people who painfully told their stories about being kicked out of Prado and the way those who come are treated — staff allow falling down drunk people in at night to MLM (so they won’t die in the bushes) instead of sober people who adhere to the rules.

But she was obviously so bored, or at least acted that way, in the meeting that I asked if any of this bothered her. She seemed less interested in listening, let alone doing anything about it, than Dee Torez but I will not give this up. There are other options, and I promise homeless people on the streets who have been kicked out of Prado every single night that things will change.

So please – don’t talk to me about being disappointed. I will not put these people through any more than they’ve already been through – especially groveling to be able to ‘panel back in.’

And if it takes a class action lawsuit to get things changed around here, as was done in Fresno, so be it.

I, for one, am sick to death of the whole thing.


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Pizmo

Why doe’s CCN continue to publish these poorly written diatribes against our local shelters from this seemingly unstable woman. I read her latest screed twice and my head hurts.


Becky, you’re doing the cause more harm then good. It’s becoming embarrassing.


everyman

I was wondering, why are all those folks camping out at the county building?

is this revenge for what they did to Sunny Acres? If it is, what a brilliant plan.


r0y

Some people just NEED to be advocates more than anything else. Find a cause and fight for it for the sake of fighting for a cause!


You always seem so emotionally-charged in your advocacy – which is fine, up to a point. I believe you, and many here, are past that point. I am waiting to hear solutions, compromises, and coordinated efforts. I am not willing to listen to your rants any further, as they take the conversation and the issue nowhere.


How do you expect to recruit any new people to your cause with such vitriol? How are you encouraging volunteerism? How does spite bring in much needed donations of cash, food, clothing, or any needed goods?


r0y

Think of your missed opportunity here! With VETERANS DAY just past, and THANKSGIVING DAY coming up, why did you NOT take this opportunity to REACH OUT to the community and remind us to perhaps SHARE anything we may not need anymore (clothing, canned foods, gift cards, etc).


You took a perfect opportunity to be incredibly POSITIVE and filled it with negativity. Poorly done, Becky. Poorly done.


Maxfusion

Love the constant reference to veterans that “we sent to war”. Rubbish, most are street based drug addict bums. And NO, they are not my homeless. If you care so much, take them home with you. Fundanomics, pure and simple.


Citizen

Who ever decided that the homeless man should be given a bus ticket home has the right idea. Homeless people with mental problems should be with their families or near relatives, if possible. They will be much better off close to family than in an environment where they have no advocates. We should encourage them to go home, not to stay here.


racket

Who woulda thunk there was such back-bitery in serving the homeless.


slohomelessadvocate

Interesting Becky because I, for one, am sick of hearing and seeing you attacking other Homeless Services organizations with half truths, misinformation, and quite frankly bold face lies.


Just a few items of clarity for you: The Prado DAY Center and the Maxine Lewis Memorial NIGHT Shelter do not serve 290 Registrants or Sex Offenders. Chores are NOT mandatory at Prado (making a suspension for that impossible). Calling someone a bad name would at worst be A day out of services. I could go on and on about the inaccurate information you are putting out there as 100% fact.


Becky, you mix and meld stories adding in your own words and spinning these stories to your desired text. This does not do justice for the homeless population.


It’s unfortunate that you circumvent homeless individuals from using the panel or conflict resolution process, keeping them from resolving issues and going back in to services. Encouraging the homeless population to stand up and fight by your side instead of eating, showering, and sleeping in a bed. You also don’t offer temporary solution by giving the clients the North County or Good Sam information as an alternative place to stay. You are so focused on tearing down other services thinking it’s going to open the door for you and Duval. You have lost sight that you are all on the same team and should be partnering.


There have been a good deal of complaints about you as well, harassing and degrading homeless, high-pressuring them in to siding with you, dragging them to the media and in front of any audience or camera you can get attention from. If I believed and broadcasted every piece of information I hear about you, you would be surprised how much worse you look than your “enemy”.


The Prado Day Center and Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter are dealing with upwards of 185 homeless people on their site at one time with 2 to 3 staff on to maintain the entire environment, to keep the peace and the safety of all (battered women, children, elderly, physically disabled, mentally ill, veterans, parolees, etc) for the whole day and/or night. I think they are doing a phenomenal job handling everything they are with the resources available. Rules, guidelines, and structure are extremely necessary. The panel and conflict resolution process are very effective in addressing behavioral issues and assisting the population back in to services.


It’s unfortunate all of your letters, emails, phone calls and stories are packed with juvenile negativity, game playing, and half truths. I am sad to hear you call yourself a Self-Appointed Homeless Advocate. The local homeless population has enough hardship without your kind of advocacy. Do us a favor and quit harming the homeless population by interfering with their limited services. Why don’t you focus on something we can all get behind for the homeless, WE NEED LOW INCOME AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING in this area.


Sincerely,

A real homeless advocate with education and 30 years experience in dealing with mentally ill and homeless individuals and organizations.


Cindy

You offer a reasonable and eloquent rebuttal. You definitely are believable when you say that the homeless aren’t forced to do chores and therefor it is impossible to exile someone from services for not doing them. Likewise, it makes sense that antagonizing (name calling) of other residents would result (at worst) in a day of restricting services rather than a life time. This all sounds sensible as does the entirety of your response to this opinion piece.


Now that I’ve heard from you, I believe that I stand corrected on my initial post and Thank You.


korie

The same tragic stories can be told about the vast majority of patients at ASH and we see how that can play out. The situation at Prado can easily become very dangerous. You may recall that a child was recently kidnapped in Atascadero by a mentally ill woman in a homeless shelter. Side effects of psych meds, while crippling at times, are a necessary evil when balanced with other issues involved and, with due respect, I doubt you truly “realize” the challenges of meeting the myriad of unique needs of the diverse group of people we call the homeless.

I worked in healthcare for the homeless for a year. Went into it very idealistic as well. It challenged many of my core beliefs. Its easy to say we care about others and want people to be fed, clothed, and housed – who doesn’t?


Cindy

This is an interesting story. I had no idea that the Prado Shelter was so intolerant. Of course there are going to be many mentally challenged “customers” as well as those who are suffering from PTSD as the result of war. That is why most of them are homeless to begin with. To refuse them food is heartless. It seems to me that they could have a bad boy table for name callers. If that doesn’t work then make then take their food outside to eat. I can understand that they might have consequences for people who refuse to do chores if they are capable of doing them but to throw them out for life rather than refusing ti allow them to participate until they do the chore makes more sense to me. That is how children are treated and if they act like children then treat them like children but you don’t throw them out in to the cold and raid for life and no nourishment. People who lack compassion shouldn’t be working in the capacity of a welfare provider. Fire the manager. What’s with Dee Torez? I heard in the past that she was an advocate for the down trodden but I’ve been hearing that this isn’t the first time that her motives are being questioned. Have you tried bringing any of these “exiles” to the A-Town Shelter?