My situation with homelessness continues. I attended the lottery at the Simpson’s shelter again. This time, I was third on the waiting list at one of the shelters. The shelters are much nicer than the one’s downtown.
So far, I have been to Dorothy Day in St. Paul. They provide a mat for sleeping on the floor, but no bedding. You have to pay for a locker if you want storage. They require a catholic charities card. The food was adequate, but nothing to get too excited about. The shelter wakes people up very early and puts them out on the street fairly early as well. Usually, people end up walking the skyways until breakfast.
I also stayed downtown at another Catholic Charities branch. The Hennepin County secure waiting area provieds shelter on two floors. The upper level is pay for stay and costs $5 a night. The upstairs provides a bed, a locker, and access to showers. I have recieved a voucher from Mary’s place for a week with a renewal. So I can stay there if I do not get moved up on the waiting list.
A few problems with the Hennpin County Secure waiting area are the early wakeups. You always feel tired. The place ran out of towels. The blanket I was provided had holes in it. They do not have razors for shaving and barely have shampoo/soap. A step up from Dorothy Day, but still needs a lot of improvement.
The early wake up usually forces people to find some food. I usually grab some oatmeal at Harbor lights. They also serve grits. I’m not a big fan of grits, I usually get oatmeal. The problem is that after a brief service, you have to leave. It’s usually pretty early and cold. Sometimes you can stay in the Harbor Light chapel, but sometimes they force you out into the skyways. There are a lot of factors, including the temperature. I ask them to commit to keeping a warm place for people to stay even if they are not volunteering or working on bell ringing.
I’m not yet into Simpson’s shelter or the system they provide. I spent one night at St. Stephen’s and it was good. The people are very friendly. They providing bedding- and it seemed very quality. The wake up time was much later 6:45 am and people who were staying there could lounge around in the morning. It has couches and a television. The breakfast at St. Stephen’s was mostly sugar cereal (so that’s a minus) but overall it seems well run. Laundry is communal. If I get into one of these shelters (and they look fairly nice), it would be a real boost.
A special mention should go to Excelsior United Methodist Church. They have a program in which they volunteer as Holy Cows, to cook and serve excellent meals at Simpson’s men’s shelter. The food was diverse and excellent. I went back for seconds.
(Later today, there will be a special meal at Sharing and Caring hands provided by GREEN MILL. Should be excellent.)
The WORKFORCE CENTER continues to provide some decent but LIMITED services. The use of computers for job searching has been reduced from 2 hours to 1 hour. This is not adequate for most people. When I attended the Monster job fair, they recommended that you spend 40 hours a week looking for work. With the Workforce center hours, a person could do an online search for maybe 5 hours. The Workforce center is also closed on the weekend, so that makes it hard as well. The upsides are the communication of job fair information, the resume printing, and other services people seem to gravitate towards. It’s too bad the Workforce center is quite a long walk.
Finally, transportation remains an issue. As it gets colder, I’m having more trouble walking around. I caught a cold. I would like to take the bus to more locations, but am only eligible for a few destinations. Take a page from California and provide the courtesy rides already.