Get With the Program or Get Out!

Commentary by Pete Domanovic

     Now that LTV, TRW, the County, Regional Transit Authority and the City of Cleveland have laid off thousands of workers, we need to welcome some of them to our part of the world—homelessness. The first thing you need to know is how to make the program. Many of the new homeless will probably leave the city out of embarrassment, or they think there will be better job opportunities elsewhere. No matter where you are, you will have to know the program. The very first thing you will have to deal with would be your alcoholism or drug addiction. What’s that you say, you’re not addicted to anything. Well sorry; come back when you are. The programming is centered around alcohol and drugs.

     Being poor and homeless is not enough to get you into a shelter. In a lot of emergency shelters, you can get in for a few days, even up to thirty sometimes. The shelters say that you don’t need to be addicted, there are very few that don’t have to claim it. The shelters make their money by working with alcoholics and addicts. If you don’t make that category, then just come back some other time. The Salvation Army shelter at 2100 Lakeside would be happy to take you for as long as you want to stay, but how long can you sleep with your shoes on. If you want a locker you got to have an addiction. Keeping both hands in your pockets wouldn’t be a bad idea either, even for a little bit of change.

     Please don’t mind the mentally handicapped, as they make up about 60 % of the population. No one seems to be doing anything for them, so when you need something yourself, know what the answer is ahead of time. Counselors are there for the same reason as anyone else who has a job. They need pay checks. Usually the newer ones come in with some gusto, but lose that after dealing with the true addicts, or mentally handicapped. The games that they play are very petty, but can suck up any resources that should rightfully go to someone trying to find work.

     When dealing with the shelter staff, you will quickly realize that they are generally not nice people, except when they are talking to their employer. If you feel like you have been wronged in any type of way, the best thing to do would be just smile and walk away. You have the right to file a grievance that most shelters offer, but definitely watch your back from there. People are sometimes awakened in the middle of the night and told they have to leave with no recourse whatsoever. The first thing to mind would be violence or the threat of violence. That will give them more reason to make you leave.

     Remember, even though the shelters go through hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and the money is meant for them to help you. They will be very swift in telling you that your staying there for free, so you need to get with the program.

Copyright NEOCH published 2002 Issue 53