Friday, January 15th, 2016 -( -22˚C / -8˚F lighter and not windy at the moment in Atlantic Canada @ 8:30 am )- Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday & my niece Jenny A.’s birthday too. 🙂
— I received email from someone who has sent me a link to her page of mostly positive predictions for 2016 and into the future: The link is coming up :
— Link —> http://www.auracolors.com/blog/general/2016-predictions/ <—
— Graphic Image from the page linked above —> ⇓
“Indigo-Cosmic” Image from the 2016 Predictions page linked above.
— The person who made these predictions seems to be plugged in to the same desire to refocus our consciousness from the current trends in media toward more positive and empowering subjects – the same desire I have been trying to embody here in this blog.
I will try to send her a link to this article and hope she is pleased with what I’ve said here.
— Thank you, have an inspiring, light filled day —
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 -( -6˚C / +21˚F — Dark, overcast & anticipating about a foot of snow in Atlantic Canada @ 10:15 pm )-
— The universe is responding to my desire for positive inspiration. “How to raise your vibration” is a Facebook community. A friend of mine liked the following message at the right time while I was checking things. The images below were copied and pasted, so what looks like links won’t work that way.
— I’m hoping I can pop at least one positive, reinforcing message in here every day.
Monday, January 11th, 2016 -( +4˚C / +39˚F — Grey, damp & raining in Atlantic Canada @ 10:30 am )- Happy Birthday, Emily S. 🙂 & Dalila C. 🙂
This is today’s Dharma Quote of the Week. I get these through my email since I subscribed at either their facebook page or on Twitter. Some quotes are better than others. And I’ve been warned that trying to ‘digest’ one school’s philosophy while embracing another can lead to ‘spiritual indigestion’. All true Religious/Spiritual sects/schools/systems come from the same Source. Their messages vary according to the culture and times in which their Truth was delivered to the disciples & citizens of which ever region the Inspiration was delivered to.
— The weekly email comes from:Shambhala Publications <firstname.lastname@example.org> which has a presence on both facebook and twitter.
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
This was the example post that came with this WordPress blog when I activated it. – I had recently had an annoying problem with another ‘premium’ Hosting service that I’d paid for and nearly lost the WordPress blog I had started there with the intention of trying to keep its content purely positive so I could send friends there who might want to know I was doing well, and didn’t need to know about any of my rants or darker moments.
I learned how to copy a whole blog and ‘port’ it over to another blog. And, after I tried that and it worked I felt pretty good and then went to other blogs and copied much of their content, and made sure the dates the original articles were posted remained, and/or any new date (the date of the copying) was edited back to the original date of the original article/post.
And recently – In January of 2016 – I had a positively inspiring day communicating with a new friend and decided to go back to this blog and fill it with positive stuff.
And that’s where I am here now – keeping that going forward 🙂
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 -( 20°C / 68°F & we still have that one small patch of snow here in Atlantic Canada at 3:48 pm )-
Orange Moe and stripey-spotty Domino enjoying their nice sunny window spot in Arnprior, 2007 -ish.
— My sister had a poster in the late 60’s / early 70’s that had several examples of how child development shapes the future of that child. – If a child lives with criticism he learns to be nasty to others. If a child lives with encouragement he learns self esteem.— & so on.
— If a child lives with pets he or she learns something valuable. I forget what that was.
— I can’t find that version, but this appears to be the original: Maybe there was a picture of a child playing with a happy puppy or something.
Children Learn What They Live (1969)
BY DOROTHY LAW NOLTE
If a child lives with criticism, He learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule, He learns to be shy. If a child lives with shame, He learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, He learns to be patient. If a child lives with encouragement, He learns confidence. If a child lives with praise, He learns to appreciate. If a child lives with fairness, He learns justice. If a child lives with security, He learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, He learns to like himself. If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, He learns to find love in the world.
— But pets certainly teach us something, including unconditional love. And right now, in deep mourning for Domino, because the life that used to be here, isn’t any more, it’s hard to understand or believe that this love and joy is worth the pain of separation. And I know through and through that we don’t just stop being when death occurs.
Thursday, March 5th, 2015: -(-3°C / +27°F @ 6:17 am in Atlantic Canada )- It’s my friend, Lyn’s Birthday. 🙂
— At 2:34 am I woke up hearing what sounded like a fairly loud crack in the frame of the bed on my side. I thought the mattress might have settled down into a better fit or something. Then at 2:43 am I heard our First Nations / Native American drum go thunk like somebody hit it with a rubber coated drum stick. This was a more normal sounding ‘thunk’ than usual. I thought this ‘felt’ like a Yoga Master, said ‘Thank You-” and tried to listen/ strain my senses -inner and outer senses- to receive any kind of message that might be connected to that thunk. At 4:09 there was another thunk on the drum, this one was more like what we get a lot, like somebody striking a tightly stretched drum head with a stick near the edge, I said “Thank You-” again and fell asleep reaching for whatever message could have been connected to this thunk. I did have a string of dreams that felt like they were related to exploring a computer game world.
— I got more sleep than usual over night, more restful than usual? Didn’t wake up as often.
— When I woke up around 6 am I thought I should get up and write down the times and descriptions of the cracks and thunks I’d heard. I came into the office here and discovered that “Firefox’s plug in container has crashed again” and I “Need to restart firefox” This happens a lot. But while I was restarting firefox I lost a bunch of details from my dreams, so now they’re just sketchy memories. The cats were also loudly complaining that they hadn’t had any treats in a couple hours and they didn’t think that this was at all acceptable.
— Yesterday: The final episode from season 3 of Continuum was broadcast on show case up here. We now have to wait for the promised 6 episode last season that will tie up all the loose ends to this evolving story of time travel and the complications of trying to change history to avoid the nasty consequences of a surveillance state. The third season ended with one hell of a monkey wrench after the characters thought they had safely fixed their problem.
— And Cathi was happy that there were a lot of interesting programs last night, X company, about Canada’s World War II spy program, among them.
— & ugh, yesterday at 6:18 pm when I began to worry about Cathi not being home yet, I looked outside and learned that the driveway had a nasty high ridge (two and a half feet high?) of hard packed icy snow that some snow plow had plugged the end of the driveway with since the last time I’d checked. I groaned and went out and shoveled until she got home. No, she hadn’t ended up in a ditch- No, the van hadn’t died halfway home somewhere. Her work load is so crazy that she needed to stay a couple hours late to get through as much as she could.
— I did not drop dead from frantically shovelling through that yucky icy snow ridge. My back muscles were screaming at me though.
— It’s 6:45 am and the world outside is glowing a very strange blueish colour. Maybe I did wake up happily in a positive paralle dimension?
Special Edition? Tuesday, 17 February, 2015 – Why we should have ended homelessness a long time ago:
This tweet led me to the story below. —jim w—
End Homelessness? – Copied and Pasted from an article in Mother Jones – March/April 2015 Issue – “Room for Improvement/Clean up cities. Give the homeless a place to live. And save money too? The shockingly simple, surprising cost-effective solution that won over a bunch of conservatives in Utah.” by Scott Carrier – w/Photos by Jim McAuley
It’s early December, 10:30 in the morning, and Rene Zepeda is driving a Volunteers of America minivan around Salt Lake City, looking for reclusive homeless people, those camping out next to the railroad tracks or down by the river or up in the foothills. The winter has been unseasonably warm so far—it’s 60 degrees today—but the cold weather is coming and the van is stacked with sleeping bags, warm coats, thermal underwear, socks, boots, hats, hand warmers, protein bars, nutrition drinks, canned goods. By the end of the day, Rene says, it will all be gone.
These supplies make life a little easier for people who live outside, but Rene’s main goal is to develop a relationship of trust with them, and act as a bridge to get them off the street. “I want to get them into homes,” Rene says. “I tell them, ‘I’m working for you. I want to get you out of the homeless situation.'”
And he does. He and all the other people who work with the homeless here have perhaps the best track record in the country. In the past nine years, Utah has decreased the number of homeless by 72 percent—largely by finding and building apartments where they can live, permanently, with no strings attached. It’s a program, or more accurately a philosophy, called Housing First.
Scott Nowlin, 60, was homeless for 20 years before he was given a home as part of Utah’s Housing First program.
One of the two phones on the dash starts ringing. “Outreach, this is Rene.” He’s upbeat, the voice you want to hear if you’re in trouble. “Do you want to meet at the motel? Or the 7-Eleven?” he asks. “Okay, we’ll be there in five minutes.”
Five days ago, William Miller, 63, was diagnosed with liver cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno, Nevada. The next day a friend put him on the train to Salt Lake City, hoping the Latter Day Saints Hospital might help. For the past two nights he’s been sleeping under a freeway viaduct. He vomits when he wakes up in the morning and has gone through two sets of clothes due to diarrhea. Yesterday he went to the LDS Hospital for a checkup and slept for five and a half hours in a bathroom. Now he’s sitting on the back of the van in a motel parking lot. A friend staying at the motel let him take a shower in his room, but then William started feeling weak, so he called Rene.
“I’m one that rarely gets sick,” he says. “It takes a lot to get me down, but I’m all out of everything.”
He has bushy sideburns and a lot of hair sticking out from a beanie and looks as if he was once much bigger than he is now, like he’s shrinking inside oversized clothes.
“I had two cups of Jell-O yesterday. My buddy got me a cup of coffee and a couple of doughnuts, but I’m gagging and throwing up everything. I’m nodding out talking to people, and that’s not good.”
Rene helps William get in the passenger seat and drives him to the Fourth Street Clinic, which provides free care for the homeless and is where Rene used to work as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He knows the system and trusts the doctors and nurses. William gets out of the van and walks inside very slowly and sits down in the waiting room. Rene checks him in. “I’m a tough old bird,” William says to me. “I ain’t never had something like this. I’m just weak as all get out, and in a lot of pain.”
Watch: Hanging Out With the Tech Have-Nots at a Silicon Valley Shantytown
Then he nods off.
The next stop is at a camp next to the railroad tracks. A 57-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman are living in a three-man dome tent covered with plastic tarps. Patrick says he’s doing okay, even though he’s had two strokes this year and has two tumors on his left lung and walks with a cane.
“My legs are going out. I’m sure it’s from camping out. We were living in the hills for two years,” he says. “My girlfriend, Charmaine, is talking about killing herself she’s in so much pain.” Charmaine is a heroin addict who suffers from diabetes, grand mal seizures, cirrhosis, and heart attacks. “When we lived in the foothills we both got bit by poisonous spiders,” she says, showing me a three-inch scar above her swollen right ankle. “The doctor tried to cut out the infection, but he accidently cut my calf muscle.”
She walks slowly, with a limp. As Rene is getting Charmaine in the van, Patrick takes him aside and asks if maybe Rene could get her into one of the subsidized apartments for chronically homeless people.
“If she comes back here she’ll die,” he says. “Especially with the cold weather coming.”
Rene tells him he’ll look into it.
On the way to the Fourth Street Clinic, I ask Charmaine how many times she’s been to an emergency room or clinic this year.
He lost his job, home, and kids to drug use. Now Patrick Bartholomew is clean and has full custody. “I can talk about my story now,” he says. “For a long time I couldn’t.”
“More times than I can count,” she says.
By the end of the day, Rene has met with 12 homeless people, all with drug and alcohol problems, many requiring medical help, all needing the sleeping bags, warm clothes, food, and supplies that he hands out. As the sun sets we head back to the office with an empty van.
“I do it for the money and glamour,” he says, laughing. “No, I mean you cross a line and you really can’t go back, ’cause you just know this is out here.” We could, as a country, look at the root causes of homelessness and try to fix them. One of the main causes is that a lot of people can’t afford a place to live. They don’t have enough money to pay rent, even for the cheapest dives available. Prices are rising, inventory is extremely tight, and the upshot is, as a new report by the Urban Institute finds, that there’s only 29 affordable units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. So we could create more jobs, redistribute the wealth, improve education, socialize health carebasically redesign our political and economic systems to make sure everybody can afford a roof over their heads.
Instead of this, we do one of two things: We stick our heads in the sand or try to find bandages for the symptoms. This story is about how Utah has found a third way.
To understand how the state did that it helps to know that homeless-service advocates roughly divide their clients into two groups: those who will be homeless for only a few weeks or a couple of months, and those who are “chronically homeless,” meaning they have been without a place to live for more than a year, and have other problems—mental illness or substance abuse or other debilitating damage. The vast majority, 85 percent, of the nation’s estimated 580,000 homeless are of the temporary variety, mainly men but also women and whole families who spend relatively short periods of time sleeping in shelters or cars, then get their lives together and, despite an economy increasingly stacked against them, find a place to live, somehow. However, the remaining 15 percent, the chronically homeless, fill up the shelters night after night and spend a lot of time in emergency rooms and jails. This is expensive—costing between $30,000 and $50,000 per person per year according to the Interagency Council on Homelessness. And there are a few people in every city, like Reno’s infamous “Million-Dollar Murray,” who really bust the bank. So in recent years, both local and federal efforts to solve the homelessness epidemic have concentrated on the chronic population, currently about 84,000 nationwide.
In 2005, approximately 2,000 of these chronically homeless people lived in the state of Utah, mainly in and around Salt Lake City. Many different agencies and groups—governmental and nonprofit, charitable and religious—worked to get them back on their feet and off the streets. But the numbers and costs just kept going up.
The model for dealing with the chronically homeless at that time, both here and in most places across the nation, was to get them “ready” for housing by guiding them through drug rehabilitation programs or mental-health counseling, or both. If and when they stopped drinking or doing drugs or acting crazy, they were given heavily subsidized housing on the condition that they stay clean and relatively sane. This model, sometimes called “linear residential treatment” or “continuum of care,” seemed to be a good idea, but it didn’t work very well because relatively few chronically homeless people ever completed the work required to become “ready,” and those who did often could not stay clean or stop having mental episodes, so they lost their apartments and became homeless again.
In 1992, a psychologist at New York University named Sam Tsemberis decided to test a new model. His idea was to just give the chronically homeless a place to live, on a permanent basis, without making them pass any tests or attend any programs or fill out any forms.
“Okay,” Tsemberis recalls thinking, “they’re schizophrenic, alcoholic, traumatized, brain damaged. What if we don’t make them pass any tests or fill out any forms? They aren’t any good at that stuff. Inability to pass tests and fill out forms was a large part of how they ended up homeless in the first place. Why not just give them a place to live and offer them free counseling and therapy, health care, and let them decide if they want to participate? Why not treat chronically homeless people as human beings and members of our community who have a basic right to housing and health care?”
Tsemberis and his associates, a group called Pathways to Housing, ran a large test in which they provided apartments to 242 chronically homeless individuals, no questions asked. In their apartments they could drink, take drugs, and suffer mental breakdowns, as long as they didn’t hurt anyone or bother their neighbors. If they needed and wanted to go to rehab or detox, these services were provided. If they needed and wanted medical care, it was also provided. But it was up to the client to decide what services and care to participate in.
The results were remarkable. After five years, 88 percent of the clients were still in their apartments, and the cost of caring for them in their own homes was a little less than what it would have cost to take care of them on the street. A subsequent study of 4,679 New York City homeless with severe mental illness found that each cost an average of $40,449 a year in emergency room, shelter, and other expenses to the system, and that getting those individuals in supportive housing saved an average of $16,282. Soon other cities such as Seattle and Portland, Maine, as well as states like Rhode Island and Illinois, ran their own tests with similar results. Denver found that emergency-service costs alone went down 73 percent for people put in Housing First, for a savings of $31,545 per person; detox visits went down 82 percent, for an additional savings of $8,732. By 2003, Housing First had been embraced by the Bush administration.
Still, the new paradigm was slow to catch on. Old practices are sometimes hard to give up, even when they don’t work. When Housing First was initially proposed in Salt Lake City, some homeless advocates thought the new model would be a disaster. Also, it would be hard to sell the ultra-conservative Utah Legislature on giving free homes to drug addicts and alcoholics. And the Legislature would have to back the idea because even though most of the funding for new construction would come from the federal government, the state would have to pick up the balance and find ways to plan, build, and manage the new units. And where are you going to put them? Not in my backyard.
This is when two men who’d worked with the homeless in Utah for many years—Matt Minkevitch, executive director of the largest shelter in Salt Lake City, and Kerry Bate, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake—started scheming.
“We got together and decided we needed Lloyd Pendleton,” Minkevitch said.
Pendleton was then an executive manager for the LDS Church Welfare Department, and he had a reputation for solving difficult managerial problems both in the United States and overseas. He’d also been involved in helping out with homeless projects in Salt Lake City, organizing volunteers, and donating food from the Bishop’s Storehouse. Dedicated to providing emergency and disaster assistance around the world as well as supplying basic material necessities to church members in need of assistance, the Church Welfare Department is like a large corporation in itself. It has 52 farms, 13 food-processing plants, and 135 storehouses. It also makes furniture like mattresses, tables, and dressers. If you’re a member of the church and you lose your job, your house, and all your money, you can go to your bishop and he’ll give you a place to live, some food, some money, and set you up with a job…no questions asked. All you have to do in return is some community service and try to follow the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. A system very much like Housing First—give them what they need, then work on their problems.
Minkevitch and Bate believed if they could get Pendleton to come on as the director of Utah’s Task Force on Homelessness he could mobilize the LDS, unite the different homeless-service providers, and sell the Housing First paradigm to the Legislature. Minkevitch’s agency had a close relationship with LDS leaders; the church had been a big donor for his shelter, The Road Home. Bate had worked with Lt. Gov. Olene Walker, who had just ascended to the governorship when Mike Leavitt was appointed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He asked her to write a letter to LDS elders, requesting that they “loan” Pendleton to the state. She did, and the church leaders said yes. It was a perfect marriage between church and state.
Once Pendleton took over the task force, he traveled to other cities to study their homeless programs. But he didn’t see anything he thought would work, at least in Utah. “I wasn’t willing to go to the Legislature until we could tell them we had a new goal and a new vision,” he said.
Then, in 2005, after a conference in Las Vegas, Pendleton shared an airport shuttle ride with Tsemberis and got a firsthand account of the Housing First trial. Tsemberis bore his testimony, as the Mormons would say, about the transformative power of giving someone a home.
Kim Hansen moved into Grace Mary Manor in 2014, after 15 years of homelessness. Hansen, who once owned a restaurant, now runs the kitchen at another homeless residence.
“Going from homelessness into a home changes a person’s psychological identity from outcast to member of the community,” Tsemberis says. The old model “was well intentioned but misinformed. It is a long stairway that required sobriety and required stability in order to get into housing. So many people could never achieve that while on the street. You actually need housing to achieve sobriety and stability, not the other way around. But that was the system that was there. Some people called it a housing readiness industry, because all these programs were in business to improve people to get them ready for housing. Improve their character, improve their behavior, improve their moral standing. There is also this attitude about poor people, like somehow they brought this upon themselves by not behaving right.” By contrast, he adds, “Housing First provides a new sense of belonging that is reinforced in every interaction with new neighbors and other community members. We operate with the belief that housing is a basic right. Everyone on the streets deserves a home. He or she should not have to earn it, or prove they are ready or worthy.”
When I asked Pendleton if that struck a chord because Housing First seemed akin to the LDS Church Welfare Department, he was careful to insist that “the Mormon church is no different than other Christian churches in this way.” Whatever, he was sold. Lloyd Pendleton is 74 years old, fit and spry with silver hair and pale-blue eyes that have the penetrating and somewhat mesmerizing stare of a border collie. He grew up relatively poor on a dairy farm and cattle ranch in a remote desert of western Utah and maybe has some cow dog in him.
“As a kid,” he says, “I was expected to do everything on the farm, from building fences to chopping wood to milking the cows. Every year I was given a new pair of work boots and a new pair of Levi’s. That was all my family could afford.”
He earned an MBA from Brigham Young University and was hired straight out of school by the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. “I remember my first day on the job, sitting at a table in the corporate headquarters, looking around and realizing everyone else had gone to Harvard or Yale, and I was just a country hick from Utah. It was intimidating, for sure, but I thought, ‘No one here can outwork me.'”
At Ford, Pendleton began to hone what he calls the “champion method” for getting results. Champions, according to Pendleton, have stamina, enthusiasm, a sense of humor, and they focus on solutions rather than process. Getting stuff done is more important than having meetings. A perfect meeting for Pendleton amounts to him clasping his hands and saying, “Let’s get going and not waste any more time.”
Pendleton asked Tsemberis to come speak to the state task force, which he did, twice. Then Pendleton called a meeting of “all the dogs in the fight” and announced that they were going to run a Housing First trial in Salt Lake City. He told them to come up with the names of 25 chronically homeless people, “the worst of the worst,” and they were going to give them apartments scattered around the city, no questions asked. If it worked for them, it would work for everybody.
“I didn’t want any ‘creaming,'” Pendleton said. “We needed to be able to trust the results.”
Many of the people in the room were uncomfortable with Pendleton’s idea. They were case managers and shelter directors and city housing officials who worked with “the worst of the worst” every day and knew they had serious personal problems—terrible alcoholism, dementia, paranoid schizophrenia. Something bad was sure to happen. There could be lawsuits. And who would be responsible? No, they thought, it will not work.
Pendleton, however, did not want to hear complaints. This was a small-scale trial, and he only wanted them to answer one question: “What do you need to get this done?”
So they did it. They ended up with 17 people and gave them apartments, health care, and services. They took people without a home and made them part of a neighborhood. And it worked, surprisingly well. After nearly two years, 14 were still in their apartments (the other three died), and they are still there today. They haven’t caused problems for themselves or their neighbors, Pendleton says.
The cost of housing and caring for the 17 people, over the first two years, was more than expected because many needed serious medical care and spent some time in hospitals. They were, however, the worst of the worst. Pendleton felt confident that, averaged out over the whole homeless population and over a period of years, they were looking at a break-even proposition or better—it would cost no more to house the homeless and treat them in their homes than it would to cover the cost of shelter stays, jail time, and emergency room visits if they were left on the street. And those “cashable” savings wouldn’t even include less quantifiable benefits for the rest of the state’s residents: reduced wait times at ERs, faster police response times, cleaner streets.
This is when Pendleton announced a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness in Utah by 2015. But finding scattered-site housing wasn’t going to cut it. To house 2,000 chronically homeless people, they would build five new apartment complexes. Around 90 percent of the construction money would come from the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which gives tax credits to large financial corporations that provide financing for housing authorities or nonprofits to build low-income housing—an average 6 percent profit on their investment. It’s a rather complicated and circuitous route, but it’s politically easier than getting lawmakers to allocate billions for poor people. The remaining 10 percent of construction costs would come from state taxes and charitable organizations. Most of the rent and maintenance on the units would come from federal Section 8 housing subsidies—and, at the time, Utah was fortunate enough not to have a long waiting list. On-site services, such as counseling, would largely be paid for by state and county general-fund dollars.
It took the task force only four years to build five new apartment buildings with units for 1,000 individuals and families. That, and an additional 500 scattered-site units, reduced the number of chronically homeless by almost three-quarters. And nine years into the 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness, Pendleton estimates that Utah’s Housing First program cost between $10,000 and $12,000 per person, about half of the $20,000 it cost to treat and care for homeless people on the street. As anyone who’s followed social services can tell you, however, cheery annual reports can hide a world of dysfunction. So I go to see for myself.
Sunrise Metro was the first apartment complex built following the 2005 pilot study. It has 100 one-bedroom units for single residents, many of whom are veterans. Mark Eugene Hudgins is 58 years old and has brain damage. When I first start talking to him, I wonder if he’s been drinking.
“I always get hassled because I sound a little drunk,” he says. “My brain works a little slow. They drilled a hole in it.”
He had a motorcycle accident in Santa Ana, California, the year after graduating from high school. After that he spent 22 months in the Navy, then worked as a groundskeeper for the aerial field photography office of the Department of Agriculture for 13 or 14 years. He says he was homeless for five years before he came here, but he’s not sure: “My memory is a little fuzzy.”
“This is a nice place to live,” he says. “I put up with them and they put up with me, and it’s a good deal. I like it here.”
While we talk, two other residents come up to listen. One is in a wheelchair. His name is John Dahlsrud, 63, and he says he’s had MS for 45 years. The other guy looks like a weary Santa Claus—Paul Stephenson, 62, a Navy vet who lived for three years in the bushes behind a car dealership.
“The caseworkers are good,” Paul says. “They take us bowling on Saturdays. The apartment pays for one game, we pay for the second game.”
“They let you do what you want,” John adds, “as long as you keep things down to a minimum and don’t run up and down the halls naked.”
“Utilities are included, except for cable,” Paul says. “They gave everybody a free cellphone with 250 minutes a month. We get a pool table, a pingpong table, 60-inch television, eight recliner rockers. They give us food boxes once a month. I got 22 cans of tuna fish last month. There’s nothing to complain about.”
They each receive about $800 a month in Supplemental Security Income, and pay a third of that toward their rent. (The balance is paid via federal vouchers, along with some Utah funds.)
Over at Grace Mary Manor, I am given a tour by the county housing authority’s Kerry Bate—one of the men who helped persuade the LDS church to loan Pendleton to the task force. Grace Mary Manor is home to 84 formerly homeless individuals with disabling conditions such as brain damage, cancer, and dementia. You have to have a swipe card or get buzzed in at the front door, and there’s a front desk manager during the day and an off-duty sheriff at night. Bate explains that one of the biggest problems in giving homeless people a place to live is that they often want to bring their friends in off the street—they feel guilty. So there are rules to limit such visitations.
“It gives the people who live here a way out,” Bate says. “They can blame it on us.”
Tom Pinkerton, 67, from Red River, South Dakota, has cancer of the esophagus. He needs to have surgery, but first has to gain 10 to 20 pounds to make it through the anesthesia. (He has since passed away.) Howard Kelly, 44, from Denton, Texas, has brain damage from falling out of a car when he was a kid. David Simmons, 39, from Texas, was living under a bridge before coming here. I’m no doctor, but I’d guess he has some mental-health problems. Lorraine Levi says she’s “over 50.” Her boyfriend beat her up and broke her back. She needs surgery and is on strong doses of pain meds.
“The average person at Grace Mary was homeless for eight years before coming here, so their health condition is really poor,” Bate says.
On the third floor there’s a library with big leather chairs, nice wooden tables, and a portrait of Grace Mary Gallivan hanging above the fireplace. She died in 2000. Her father was a manager of a silver mine in Park City, and her husband was publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune. Her family foundation put up $600,000 for the construction of the apartment complex, matched by the foundation of the heirs to Utah’s first multimillionaire, David Eccles, who built one of the biggest banks in the West. From a window in the library you can look outside and see a gazebo for picnics and a volleyball court with evenly raked sand.
Bate introduces me to Steven Roach and Kay Luther, young caseworkers who check in on their clients every day to see what they need. They take them to the Fourth Street Clinic and Valley Mental Health, bring food from the food banks—pretty much anything they can do to help.
“The point is to have a service person on-site,” Bate says. “So if Sally Jo is having a crisis, we got somebody here who can help. Their goal isn’t to take everybody off the street and repair them and turn them into middle-class America. Their goal is to make sure they stay housed.”
“We have a guy who goes out to sleep in the park every month, and we have to go get him, talk him into coming back,” Roach says.
“There’s no mandate for participation in substance abuse or mental-health care, but we can certainly encourage it,” Luther says. “We had one guy who got completely clean from heroin and is off working in a furniture store.”
Bate shows me an empty apartment, a fairly spartan studio with linoleum floors, new sheets on the bed, the kitchen stocked with canned food, silverware, plates, etc.
“The church donated all of this,” Bate says. “Before we opened up, volunteers from the local Mormon ward came over and assembled all the furniture. It was overwhelming. For the first several years we were open, the LDS church made weekly food deliveries—everything from meat to butter and cheese. It wasn’t just dried beans—it was good stuff.” (The Utah Food Bank now makes weekly deliveries.)
I ask him if this is why the programs work so well in Utah—because of church donations.
“If the LDS church was not into it, the money would be missed, for sure,” he says, “but it’s church leadership that’s immensely important. If the word gets out that the church is behind something, it removes a lot of barriers.”
“Why do you think they do it?” I ask.
“Oh,” he says, “I think they believe all that stuff in the New Testament about helping the poor. That’s kind of crazy for a religion, I know, but I think they take it quite seriously.”
“Do you think you can meet the goal of eliminating chronic homelessness in Utah by 2015?” I ask.
“Yes,” Bate says, “we have a little less than 272 remaining unhoused, and that’s a number you can wrap your head around. Not like California and other places.”
“So do you think your success can be duplicated in other places?”
“I think it can be duplicated,” he replies. “San Francisco has Silicon Valley. Seattle has Bill Gates. Almost all of our larger cities have local philanthropic organizations that can help a lot with funding and building community support.” And that’s the question, isn’t it? Can Housing First scale to areas where land and services are expensive, where NIMBYs are accordingly more powerful, places where the full organizational zeal and experience of the LDS church aren’t in evidence, and where data about the benefits of offering the homeless a permanent residence might not withstand the whims of politicians? In New York City, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg rolled out a well-regarded Housing First program focusing on mentally ill individuals. But he then gutted housing subsidies for the general homeless population, including families, after saying he thought they promoted passivity instead of “client responsibility.” Today, homelessness is the highest since the Great Depression, with 60,000 New Yorkers—including 26,000 children—on the streets, in the subway tunnels, and in the city’s sprawling network of 255 shelters, conveniently located far from the playgrounds of the 1 percent. “Every month I get a paper from Welfare saying how much they just paid for me and my two kids to stay in our one room in this shelter. $3,444! Every month!” one exasperated mom told The New Yorker. “Give me $900 and I’ll find me and my kids an apartment, I promise you.” The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has pledged to reinvest in supportive and affordable housing, but 1 in 5 residents now live below the poverty line, and demand is high.
But the real test case might be California, where 20 percent of the nation’s homeless live. Los Angeles has 34,393 homeless people, more than a quarter of whom are chronically so. San Francisco has 6,408 homeless, Santa Clara County—home to San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley—has 7,567, and housing costs are among the highest in the nation. It takes three minimum-wage jobs to pay for an average one-bedroom apartment there. Tax credits for construction and Section 8 vouchers for rent don’t come close to the actual costs.
That’s the dilemma facing Jennifer Loving, the executive director of Destination: Home, a public-private partnership spearheading Santa Clara’s Housing First program. As in Utah, the leaders of Santa Clara’s initiative were able to marshal different agencies, nonprofits, and private groups, unifying their vision and goals to house the chronically homeless. “At first, it was tough to move out of the shelter way of doing things. It was new to all sit around the same table and change the way the system responds to homelessness,” Loving says.
Like Pendleton, they addressed the chronically homeless cases first. In 2011, in conjunction with a national effort called 100,000 Homes, they began a trial to house 1,000 people who’d been homeless for an average of 18 years and estimated to cost the system upward of $60,000 a year. “Our motto was, ‘Whatever it takes,'” Loving says. “We built the plane as we were flying it.” That meant lots of innovation along the way, such as creating a $100,000 flex fund to do things like pay off small dings on people’s credit, so they could qualify for vouchers and establish rental history: “So if Bob has an eight-year-old violation on his credit history, we’d just pay that off,” Loving says.
By the end of 2014, they had housed 840 people in apartments scattered around the county. The remaining 100 or so have rental subsidies but can’t find a place to live due to exceptionally high occupancy rates. Still, the trial was considered a big success—in part because supported housing only cost an estimated $25,000 per person—and Santa Clara County has now officially adoptÂed the Housing First model. “We made a system out of nothing, and we used it like an assembly line to house people,” Loving says. “And the only thing in our way is the high cost of housing stock.”
So now they’re embarking on a five-year plan to house the county’s remaining 6,000 homeless. First, they’ve launched an extensive study on exactly how much homelessness actually costs taxpayers. Those costs are very hard to determine: There are so many agencies involved—hospitals, jails, police, detox centers, mental-health clinics, shelters, service providers—and they all keep separate records, separate sets of data used for separate purposes, all run on separate pieces of software. “Each department has an information system and a team that looks at the data,” says Ky Le, director of the Office of Supportive Housing for Santa Clara. “They have small teams who know their data best, how it’s configured and why, what’s accurate and what’s not.” Ky says that merging datasets has been “a tremendous effort,” but by integrating and analyzing it, Santa Clara hopes to better understand who’s already a “frequent flier” of clinics and jails, and, more tantalizingly, to develop an early warning system for who is likely to become one, and how they can be housed and cared for in the most cost-effective manner.
New housing needs to be found, or built, but with the market so tight, finding housing—any housing—is a huge challenge, one made worse when Gov. Jerry Brown slashed all $1.7 billion of the state’s redevelopment funds during the 2011 budget crisis. (Those funds have not rematerialized now that California has a huge budget surplus.) So they’re getting creative—”tiny homes, pod housing, stackable—we’re looking at it all,” Loving says. And they’re employing creative financing efforts, like “pay-for-success” bonds, in which investors (mostly foundations) would stake the construction funds and get a small return if the savings materialize for the county.
After a year and a half on the streets of Salt Lake City, Madeline Wesson, 63, moved into Grace Mary Manor when it opened. Seven years later, it’s still home.
Advocates estimate it could take up to a billion dollars, half from grants and philanthropy, the other half in the form of county land and services. “The work we’re going to be doing in the next year,” Loving says, “is determining where and how to create new units and how much they are going to cost and where we can get the resources from—whether it’s private or public money. The money is all here. We have eBay, Adobe, Applied Materials, Google.” The hope is that the emphasis on quantified efficiency will persuade tech firms and billionaires obsessed with metrics that Housing First is a solid civic investment. “It’s fascinating because we have this problem we could totally solve if we wanted to,” Loving says. “We solve complicated problems all the time, right? Silicon Valley is an example of solving complicated problems all the time.”
If places as different—economically, demographically, politically—as Salt Lake City and Santa Clara County can make Housing First work, is there any place that can’t? To be sure, the return on investment will vary, depending on how you count the various benefits of fewer people living in the streets, clogging emergency rooms, and crowding jails. But the overall equation is clear: “Ironically, ending homelessness is actually cheaper than continuing to treat the problem. This would not only benefit the people who are homeless; it would be healing for the rest of us to live in a more compassionate and just nation,” Tsemberis says. “It’s not a matter of whether we know how to fix the problem. Homelessness is not a disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s where we don’t yet have a cure. We have the cure for homelessness—it’s housing. What we lack is political will.”
Monday, January 26th, 2015 -( -17°C / +2°F & Still light outside @5:22 pm on Catherine E’s Birthday 🙂 )-
Icicles hanging from the roof over the porch Sunday morning.
— A couple days ago Cathi meditated on our future by visualizing going to her safe place in the upper astral world and opening doors. The last time she did that, every door she opened showed her chaos and ‘really weird’ futures. Between then and now during another meditation she asked her higher self what those weird futures were all about and why hadn’t she found one she could love and believe in. The response she received was, “You can open more doors-” So, this last time she opened several doors onto weird futures, closed and locked them and then found one that she really liked. ‘Weird stuff’ that has been happening to us in the past couple years wasn’t there. Both of us were really getting somewhere with our writing and we were both working on writing stuff that had publishers very interested. She could see that she really didn’t need to work outside – no more ‘day job’ was necessary. –> She visualized that she stepped through into that future and closed the door on this one behind her. — Almost immediately after she told me that I started feeling the need to ‘tidy up around here’. I actually got things done from my ‘to-do’ list. I finally cleaned up the top of her desk in this office here, contacted a long lost cousin in California, had a great online conversation with him, actually called Mom and Sharon in Alaska like I said I would. We skyped for almost an hour. Today, I’m looking at the entrance to this room and thinking I need to get the clutter off the bookcase and maybe start a file/scrapbook for that stuff I want to keep and trash the stuff I don’t. This is a real step forward.
— Today is somebody’s birthday. When I was feeling like my life was pretty much over, she came along at the wrong place in the wrong time and flirted, and convinced me that I still had something to offer and maybe all my dreams could actually come true instead of continually being squashed by evil authoritarian ice-holes all around me. I wished her happy birthday in email.
— I was stiff after slipping on the ice yesterday and landing on my backside. I think I landed on the best possible angle so I was jarred, but I didn’t send the top of my spine up through my brain or anything that catastrophic. I had a bit of a rough time last night lowering my head into sleeping position. There was a big black dog on my side of the bed and he’s too big for me to pick up and move through sheer muscle and grit, I could still pick up the 125 pounds of Labrador Retriever, but with him squirming and fighting back, I would probably throw something out in my back worse than landing on my rump in the driveway yesterday did. I tried to sleep in the recliner in the living room. I immediately had purring orange cat help and that complicated things a bit. But I did manage to sleep with a 25 pound orange cat trying to tangle his claws up in my beard without messing my back up any worse that it was when I sat down.
— Monday is garbage day, I pried myself up a little after 7:30 with Cathi getting ready for work and got myself together enough to get the garbage and recycling out, started the van to warm it up before she had to sit in a freezing cold environment and started getting a little bit of new ice off the windshield. After she got out I puttered around, looked through email and stuff and waited a bit, then gave the animals their morning routines and then went back to bed. Again, it was a bit difficult lowering my head past a certain point, my jarring yesterday had the muscles at the top of my back, and in my neck, complaining, but I got into a position that worked and did waft off into dreamland.
— I know I dreamed, and I think the dreams were consistant, like visiting alternate dimensions more than creating a whole weird universe inside my head – at least that’s what it feels like lately – but right now, I don’t remember any details. Which is sort of good, I was not terrorized by nightmares or anything. And here I am, less achy than I was before I went back to bed and thinking about further sprucing up my web pages.
— It’s a lot easier to add stuff to a wordpress page than it is to open up DreamWeaver or any of those earlier web editing ‘apps’ The only weird thing is, you have to ‘log in’ to you different pages one at a time, which is still a lot easier than firing up DreamWeaver and an ftp client and getting things done that way. And, if you have all the pages in different versions of wordpress on your website linked to the same account, same username and password, you don’t have to log in to each one individually. That helps, too.
— Interesting stuff about my long lost cousin in California. He was born on my 13th birthday. Back in those days it would have been scandalous, we heard that my aunt had ‘female problems’ and had to go into the hospital while she was in California, visiting a relative who lived out there. Eighteen years later we met her ‘female problem’ and I thought he was pretty cool. Last night he told me that I was pretty much the only person he met when he came out here to meet his biological parents that he could relate to. That felt great. He’s also a sound recording engineer with his own sound studio out there. He’s got a couple children and we will probably talk quite a bit in the very near future. — Yay!
— So now, in keeping with my weird sudden nesting instincts kicking in here -shudder- I should save this and go clean up the corner of the bookcase nearest to the desk I uncluttered the other day.
— ‘Have a nice evening,’ he said to the world. And the loving bits of this universe smiled and said, “He knows we’re here!” and chattered among themselves wondering how to show him that they appreciated being acknowledged. [ insert wide silly grin here ]
Friday, January 16, 2015 -( -5°C / +23°F w/light snow falling @ 7 am in Atlantic Canada )-
— 528 Hrz is supposed to be the frequency of Love, and also the frequency at which cats purr. I dreamed I was writing in this blog and composing email at the same time and the email contained an old family recipe for a home remidy cough syrup that tasted horrible but worked? I woke up and heard our Native American/First Nations drum, which we have hanging on the wall at the east-facing window in our bedroom- go ‘Thunk’. I looked at the digital clock, it read “5:28” -a.m.-. This happens fairly often and we keep praying and hoping and projecting white light with the intention that, if this is a ‘Spirit’ saying hello, it’s a guardian angel type or above. And we keep getting different impressions of who it might be, anything from an aunt or grandmother that Cathi vaguely remembers or didn’t know in this life at all, to White Wolf, an Elder First Nations Medicine Man / Spiritual Guide. At times I’ve also felt that it might be Paramahansa Yogananda, a bonafide Hindu Indian Guru who came to North America in response to our growing hunger and thirst for Real Spiritual Truth and Guidance over here.
— I hovered between dream and waking up for a while. I dreamed a young man from India was very upset with a group of Maharajas who were meeting at a Hotel and wanted to confront and possibly assassinate one or all of them. I knew where the Maharajas were meeting, In the dream I knew there were 5 of them, but I was using my best acting skills to convince the young man that I had no idea where they might be. I did not feel like I was in danger. I felt like I was trying to save everybody’s lives including the angry young man’s. I might have been the young man’s hostage, sort of a shield, he had me open doors and stand in front of him as he was directing me to search around the area where he thought the Maharajas were meeting. When I opened one door we looked outside through a screen door, saw a sparkling white vehicle. The young man grumbled that it would be like the Maharajas to travel around in something called a Grand Caravan, and he repeated that he was upset because he believed that these Maharajas were fleecing his country of its wealth. I took another look at the white vehicle and it looked like a limousine version of a Chrysler Grand Caravan with a kind of enclosed pickup bed behind the van part. It was still all clean and shiny white. The young man then had me open another door and we did, and stepped into an older room in the hotel. It had two twin beds and a window, the walls were all plain unfinished wood and when I looked toward what might have been a bathroom, there were large clumps of dust on the floor. I was slightly worried that somebody may have rented that room and might be there and might be in danger if the angry young man saw them, he might kill them.
— I woke up and glanced at the clock, it was 6:48 am. I thought I should get up and go to the washroom. I thought I should keep the 5:28 am episode fresh in my memory and write it down in my blog as soon as I could. As I stood up beside the bed in the dark the drum went ‘Thunk’ again. I smiled, put my hands together, bowed, “Namaste – Thank you-” and felt a slight thrill.
My favourite artist drew and tweeted a drawing she felt moved to create for #JeSuisCharlie:
“#JeSuisCharlie / Nous Vaincrons” -We shall overcome- by Cathi Harris
And I went to talk to my future daughter, Evelyn (?) in my Higher Self Corridor:
— Adventures in the higher realms:
— Yes, we’ve been shaken again by the Charlie Hebdo massacre. & Yes, we can see both sides of this.
‘Perspective’ from “Meanwhile in Canada” — While it looks like evil ice-holes are manipulating public opinion to divide and conquer — Please, do not lose your heads and jump on the bandwagon.
— Lately, I failed and fell asleep every time I’ve tried to prepare myself to climb the spiritual stairs to consult with my higher self, or my daughter from my next life, my finer angels or whatever is actually there- I haven’t gotten through the process of clearing away the tensions and distractions before I could climb those stairs. I was relaxing, preparing for another try, when I thought about sending Evelyn a message, “Are you upset with me because I haven’t been able to connect with you in a couple days?” And, received the answer I was not expecting, “Yes, I decided never to talk to you again-” with the unexpected humourous realization that she was indeed, talking to me. I was thinking about saying, “I really need a two way conversation here-” when she answered, “We have that, don’t we?” — ‘Wow, I guess we do.’ I can feel something, I get the very strong impression that after praying that only positive communications, positive inspirations, positive connections with positive angels and ‘beings’ that Jesus and God would approve of, she’s there. She’s telling me things I do not expect to hear, she really feels like she has an existence beyond my imagination.
— So far, every time I’ve been there, she’s been a kid, somewhere in the nine to twelve year old range? – it’s hard for me to gauge, kids were younger longer when I was growing up- but this time, she looked more like a 17 year old. I had recently felt almost compelled to write a story about a runaway girl who had almost been forced into prostitution by the idiot who convinced her that he loved her, introduced her to the adult world of making love and then forced her outside in the pouring rain and told her if she didn’t come back with at least fifty dollars, he would give her to the thugs he has protecting him and let them rape and do whatever they felt like with her. I didn’t know how preposterous the story line I came up with might be, whether me trying to find a happy ending for one hopeless kid would ever make a difference to anybody, whether the story could eventually be any good, or good enough to get out into the public consciousness. I was wondering if my future daughter, who apparently knows more about what I’m doing than I do, would approve, or be appalled, or what. I was truly shocked that she would appear to be a seventeen year old when I expected her to still be nine years old. I betcha every parent out there knows that feeling. You blink and your tiny cherub who was struggling to learn to walk is grabbing the car keys and charging out the door, coming back home with a lover and asking for your blessing to marry, or your understanding that, since you blew it, they don’t trust marriage and feel that seeking God’s Blessing, ‘living in love’ and, by human standards, ‘living in sin’ – is the way they want to go.
— The last couple times we’ve been together up there, we’ve gotten down on our knees, facing east, and prayed. She is almost always on my left side, I often hold her hand as we get down to kneel. This time, as soon as we were kneeling, getting ready to pray, not knowing what I might pray for, if anything, I glanced to my left as I was holding her hand and saw a very bright cone of white light blasting her- so white, so bright I couldn’t see her face, I couldn’t see much above the knee socks she was wearing. And they were odd, they were striped, in the kind of colors my mother would choose to wear, a creamy off-white and a subdued, almost greyish tan. She asked, “Why are you doing this to me?” and I was shocked by this, I said, “I don’t think it’s me-” and she was surprised and we both wondered who might be doing something like that. I thought it was some kind of highly protective blessing.
— I came away from this believing there is somebody waiting for my next life who loves me unconditionally. Somebody who is human and was human and knew me before, and might be some kind of official guardian angel’s consultant or something. ( I really don’t know enough, or remember enough, about what actually goes on in the ‘next world’ or the next higher levels to feel like I understand what any of this is all about. )
— I’ve had interactions with a kind of awesome entity who just might be my higher self. I’ve felt the presence of ‘angels’, ‘archangels’, and what felt to me like ‘Undeniable Representatives of the Divine’ – Jesus was not the only one. I don’t know if I would recognize Moses if I bumped into him while not quite looking where I was going or whatever. I don’t believe that God would only send hope and salvation to a tiny percentage of His Creations. It’s painfully obvious to me that dark hearted men -mostly men- have tried to pervert and hi-jack the messages brought to us by Jesus, Moses, Muhammad – God Bless All of The True Prophets – And that those dark hearted individuals had a dark agenda and meant to warp the messages we receive toward their own evil ends. Jesus said we can all find God and listen to our inner directions and the bad guys try to tell us, no, we need to be ordered and pushed around and conform to the whims of idiots who have convinced us that they know the only true pathway to God and we have to pay them dearly for their services. I believe that Muhammad wanted His daughter to have a lot to say about how His message would be shared with this world, and greedy evil power mad men re-wrote the basic tenants of Muhammad’s message to give themselves huge amounts of power and tossed Muhammad’s Daughter into poverty and shame because she was a woman.
— I could be wrong, and I’m willing to learn. I might not believe that I know enough about this subject until I’ve had a nice long conversation with my Creator, and that might not be possible while I’m still breathing the polluted air and eating the poisoned GMO foods that we apparently are stuck with down here in this day and age.
— God Bless Everybody who is trying to find their own way, and God Bless Everybody who is trying to show us the truth and help us find our own ways.
— Billions of paths lead to God, and almost everybody believes they know the only way. “Do your Dharma – Do your best, let others argue and confuse themselves to death.” I wish I could remember the original quote and who said that.
I began this life about 50 miles East of New York City, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and would probably be a suicide statistic if it wasn't for the 'Real' friends I made in Vermont, New Hampshire & upper New York State. Being creative and sensitive has its ups and downs - mostly up lately- loving life and love in Atlantic Canada. :)