The homeless shelter

When people are reliant on shelters, I believe there are a lot of disconnects. First off, shelters are for emergencies only and should not become a home. 

One of the first things you learn is the hours of operation. The shelter closes each morning and people don’t have a place to stay. Many don’t understand or care about anything when it is time to clock out at 6 a.m., but poverty and homeless people don’t clock out. It’s like I’m at work even when I can no longer stay awake. I don’t get time off or a home, as you would say I should. People are working where I am currently living at. People have lost their lives there or have suffered some form of violence, whether it is verbal or physical. 

Some would say I should be grateful to have a bed at the shelter but I don’t care. I can’t wait to get off the clock. 

Power and control come to some who should not have it. The conditions in shelter are created by the culture of people in power. Their culture is not my life but I can’t get away from the homeless or needing shelter without donations or money. 

Imagine having to be professional all the time. You can’t sleep in your drawers in the shelter, the rules say you must be fully clothed at all times in the shelter. Do you see how difficult just this one rule is? Your clothes will go to the shower with you. You must wear your shirt and pants. You’re living like you’re in college, a dorm with about 50 or 60 people. You don’t get any privacy in the shelter. It is a small space with a lot of people with a lot of different attitudes including staff members. You spend half the night awake trying to figure out how not to come back to the shelter only to have to return to a safe spot to sleep. Sometimes as early as 4 p.m. depending on the specific shelter. Then you wait in line and hope for a placement. While you wait you are often handed forms, whether it be required intake paperwork or surveys to assess how the District spends money on the resources you are using. Whatever it is, you feel like your bed depends on it. 

We value money too much. Not having enough money determines who you talk to and what you talk about. It takes so much effort and time that other needs come last. It’s not as easy as some of us make it look. Homeless means that after you leave I’m still suffering. Recognize and remember that. It’s the only way to show how it’s everyone’s job to end homelessness. I don’t want to be homeless any more in future, so I will pray to God.

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.