Very recently homeless in Seattle, mainly due to theÂ economy, but I’m sure that a doctor Â could add a large heaping of ‘depression’ to the list. Â No drug orÂ alcoholÂ problems, I am an IT Pro/Geek and have been drugged screened for many positions over the years and have a beer or two when the Steelers are playing on TV, but that is about it. Went through a serious back injury years ago that killed myÂ career, marriage andÂ financialÂ security. EVERYTHING that I had what to hospitals, doctors and PT to get myself back into shape so I could live a ‘normal’ physical life and IÂ achievedÂ that, but did not recover a steady work situation before the ‘recession’ Â bloomed thus making even more difficult to find work. And I had even been doing physical day labor at $40 a day to cover expenses (i.e. I am not just looking for IT work, but ANYTHING that I could find available).
But the couple of years in and out of steady workÂ destroyed my resume and it become very difficult to find a good position and I accepted positions (in and out of IT) to pay the bills that hurt me even more professionally. Fast forward and without a nestegg and working contract positions that were not available forÂ unemploymentÂ benefits and found myself unemployed and unavailable to pay rent.
I have made the Â rounds; first ‘friends’ to see if I could couch surf for awhile while I continued the job search, no go there. Figured out the difference between the term ‘friend’ and ‘acquaintance’Â really fast. I have no family to fall back on, only some distantÂ relatives that could not or would not help… Went on the social service rounds that are available in the Seattle area; Men shelters, housing programs, free meals, etc… Â The result of this is:
Food: I will notÂ starve, might eat poorly and miss some meals, but there are a small number of places that provide regular meal services. Nothing to brag about, but you will not starve nor is there a reason to panhandle in Seattle for food like what occurs on every corner in the downtown area… And in another month or so, I would qualify for ‘food stamps’ which will help (but remember, you can not purchase ‘hot’ prepared food and I have no food storage or kitchen…that is why most of the individuals that I have meet sale theirs for 50 cent on the dollar or just buy chips and soda during the month.
Temp Housing: Regular style bed to sleep on? NOWAY. As a single male regular housing is not an option for me, you must be married and/or have children to qualify for normal housing options.
Transition Housing: I am NOT in a drug orÂ alcoholÂ program, not on work-release from jail, not a senior, nor have a documented history of mental illness. Even if I did qualify for a ‘treatment program’, there are LONG waiting lists to enter some these housing environments. (I have actually thought about getting hook on crack but the lack of money and common sense haveÂ prevailed).
Subsidized housing (HUD style): 18+ month waiting list and you need to be receiving ‘some’ type of income (state welfare, SS, SSDI, Veteran)…. Again I do not qualify.
Nightly Shelters: Â Spend a night or two in a few that I will never go back to, ever. Between theÂ hygiene problems, yourÂ neighbor’sÂ mental issues, sexual predators, junkies, propertyÂ theft,Â bed bugs, etc… you would rather sleep outside in a doorway. You might be cold at 3-4am but just trust me, I ‘feel’ safer…(How f’d up is that…)
There are a couple of night shelters that I have not been able to get into due to no opening and some that I do not have the money for (yes, there are some nightly shelters that charge), and some that I have not made it through the ‘process’ to get yet. Almost of the nightly male shelters only allow you to be inside for ~7 hours at night and thus you will get less then 7 hours of sleep per night (just ONE reason you see the homeless sleeping around town during the day. Others include they walked around all night to maintain their personal safety and would rather safely sleep in public during the daylight, or they got move by the police from their sleeping spot, or its drug caused, or….etc..)
Hygiene: There are quite a few options to preserve a socially acceptable level of personal hygiene, but between signing up and waiting to take a shower, shave, cloth washing, etc… and scheduling you time to eat at the free meal areas, you will spend a large portion of your day on just this! (waiting for services; hygiene, food, social services, clothing, etc.. can take a 4-5 hour chuck out of your day, every day, this is why a portion of the homeless ‘look/smell’ like they are homeless.)
I have a netbook, so when not working on the things above, I find free wireless to continue job searching in my primary career, also my library card only allows 90 minutes of computer time (something else to schedule in), plus Worksource give you an hour a day for job searching.
Not that I will be able to accept a position (or even alway be able to interview) in the future if I still have to spend hours a day on food and hygiene as these services are not available ‘before/after’ a standard 9-5 work day and most of those services are not available on weekends, so I would I ‘make it’ several weeks of sleeping on the street and having a normal job, figure that issue out and let me know as most shelter systems are not supportive of the working homeless (I have personal experience with this, just ask!)
A large issue for me has been an almost complete lack of normal human interactions as I only interact with other homeless people (during all the waiting in line for food/services) and most of these individuals areÂ chronicallyÂ homeless for reason…. and then the social services people are not there to be your friend, hang out and have a coffee and talk, but to point you in a direction and move on to the next individual (this applies to the Churches also).
So now, to be blunt, I’m going the suicide route as what is really left for me and how only can I really continue at this level on the street before I develop severe physical and/or mental issues that will prevent me have ever returning to a normal self-sustainingÂ existence. I wish I had the money and a place to perform the inert gas process from ‘Final Exit’, or money to buy enough street drugs to OD on, soÂ realistically nowÂ I am down to being a jumper. I have a couple of dollars left in my pocket and I’ll buy a couple of beers to reduce theÂ survivalÂ inhibitionsÂ once I find an area of height that is accessible (Aurora bridge has new suicide prevention fencing but is a perfect?, I’ll have to walk it a few times I guess to determine if I can scale it, but there are other areas around town…
I amÂ hungryÂ as I missed two meals today (busy with showering and sending resumes to craigslist.org posted jobs) so I am off to see if I can find something,Â over-wiseÂ Â another 3 hours until the free meal site is serving tonight, but sometimes they no-show, so you need to plan ahead… great way to live, right….
-Alone in Seattle