Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Too much time with nowhere to go

First I want to thank the people who have commented so far and for those you have offered a little help.

For me the hardest part of being on the streets is trying to pass the time during the day when the shelter is closed. Where I am staying now closes at 8 AM and reopens at 7. On a day like today wher the weather is good it isn't a problem but this being winter you never know.

Today for example I killed an hour at Starbucks having a cup of coffee and reading the Globe. Now I am using a public computer at Harvard to check e-mail and post to the blog, and later will go to the Cambridge Library where I can sign up for another hour on the net.

Au Bon Pain in Harvard Sq is a favorite gathering spot for people on the streets. The management there is kind to the homeless and does let people stay there to keep warm during the day. The only time they get upset is if somebody buys a cheaper coffee at 7-11 and thn goes to Au Bon Pain to drink it and frankly that is kind of rude. They also look the other way when people use the bathroom to clean up.

One big problem is that many shelters do not let clients store belongings during the day so people are forced to lug their bags around all day. It gets compounded that in this post 9/11 world storage lockers simply don't exist. I use the lockers at a hostel on Hemingway Street where I sometimes stay a night or two during the month when no other shelter option is available. The Boston hostels are not cheap....sharing a room with 3 other people can run over $40 at the one on Hemingway Street and the other one in Everett while cheaper is a hike on the T. Still it beats freezing and it allows you to do a laundry and shower up.

Some of the guys spend there day "canning". For those who think the homeless are lazy they should see these people go through trash cans looking for bottles or cans. Some make up to $40 a day doing it ( which at 5 cents a bottle means a lot of work )

Other days are spent in my case going to medical appointments at Newton Wellsley or filling out forms for housing.
The government bureaucracy involved with this is staggering. You would think that somebody who has been approved by the federal government for disability would be able to get Section 8 approval right away but it doesn't work that way.

Bottom line is I can see how the system can wear somebody down and they can get trapped into a vicious circle. I will not let that happen to me.

Thanks for reading.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

2nd time posting this:

I posted this in reply to your LiveJournal post, but in case you didn't see it, I would like to meet you at Au Bon Pain when you're there and give you a cash donation toward the laptop (I don't like Paypal). I have little to offer, since I'm between jobs myself, but I can contribute $25 cash. What times will you be there this week, and how can I recognize you?

Plumtreeblossom (Mare)

Otis said...

Hello Sir,

Reading about your ordeal makes me so angry at the people who complain that we're spending so much money on "welfare." Unfortunately a lot of the money our government does spend goes to wasteful bureaucracy. It's a shame the process can't be streamlined so we're able to provide more efficient services to our fellow citizens who need it.

And we all need services at sometime or another - health care, housing, education, etc.

I'll try to send some money your way again when I get some.

Best of luck.

Mike said...

I worked for Shelter, Inc in Cambridge for 3 years and what this person is saying is very true.

Cambridge has been hit hard in the past 15 years with the loss of rent control apartments and the rooming houses that used to be in the Central area.

Be careful.

Anonymous said...

If you are serious about wanting to get your son a laptop for Christmas, you should search craigslist ( http://www.craigslist.org ) for a used one for under $200. Most will suffice for anything a high schooler needs in terms of classwork...and still handle music/internet/etc just fine. They also have a section of items being given away for free and you might also find something worthwhile for yourself, wife, or kid in there if you keep an eye on it each day as well.

You could probably even convince a Harvard undergrad to set it up and fill it with tons of software too.

Otherwise, you could also go to some of the local academic institutes and poke around asking if anyone has any extra laptops that are unused and considered to be thrown out. In my time at BU, I know we could easily have 2-5 extra computers whose technology no longer handled our extreme high-end needs but would do absolutely fine by any other standard for something like writing up homework or getting on the internet. Often, these lower priced items are not tagged or tracked by the school and so if they just "go home" with a graduate student, then none's the wiser.

Good luck, if this is for real.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Plumtreeblossom again. You said you were available on Friday to meet at Au Bon Pain in Davis so I can give you this cash donation, but I haven't heard anything more from you. Are we still on for meeting?

If it helps, I can send you my phone number so we can arrange it.

-Plumtreeblossom (Mare)

Anonymous said...

Plumtreeblossom, haven't you figured it out yet that it is a scam?

They don't want to meet you in person because the person who created this account is not what they say.

smutly_inclined said...

Hey best of luck to you - This is a shitty situation. Depending on your disability, you may be able to sign up with a rehab services commission to get help navigating the paperwork. I'm sure you've heard it all by now though.
I've been there too, though I was a teenager, and I'm blind - I get it. This sucks but you've got good spirits.
Good luck.

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