I attended project Homeless Connect at the Minneapolis Convention center. It began at 10:00 a.m. I got there about 10:15 a.m.
There were many happy volunteers, social service agencies, and government workers in attendance.
I stood in line for a while to get assigned a guide. It is a typical role for a volunteer. Usually, they do a short intake in which they asked you the same tired questions and then try to figure out what you will need. My guide was a very nice young woman who was studying public health issues and looking for a new job this summer. We parted ways at lunch, in part, because I knew that too many services would not be forthcoming and her volunteer opportunity could be more productive with someone else.
As my stay at Our Savior shelter ends tonight, securing some kind of housing was my first priority. I already knew that housing issues would not likely get resolved. Too many programs require either mental illness or chemical dependency problems to get into. Others programs requires some kind of government assistance to qualify for. One odd pre-requisite for assisstance is the one that requires at least one year of homelessness. As expected, nothing was going to work for me. I spoke to Robert from Simpson shelter and explained I would go to the lottery to try to win a waitlist spot tonight.
Discussions with the William Mitchell legal clinic proved more fruitful. In my discussions with legal clinic staff, they made several constructive suggestions for handling a specific issue.
Volunteers from Willliam Mitchell Law School
Even more interesting is the possibility that one organization said they might have the discretionary funds to pay my parking ticket in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine that my parking tickets are greater than other peoples needs.
I got a very nice haircut from Pam who works at a salon in General Mills. I had to wait hours to get my haircut, but finally they worked me into the rotation. Scissor cuts moved faster than buzz cuts. I also reminded people that Tracy Muse is cutting hair at St. Stephen’s shelter. Tracy is cutting hair on Mondays starting at 3:30 pm. He only takes up to 6 people, so sign up and get there early.
Technology issues remain a mixed bag. Margaret from Branch 3 employment center informed me that the computer situation has not changed. (I left her with Linux distros on CDs for anyone who wants to install them on an old laptop- be sure to back up your files.) Ed from TCVM indicated no progress has been made on the internet cafe idea, but it is still being kicked around.
On site at Project homeless connect, a computer lab was set up for making resumes. It was constantly busy. As for internet access, the on site internet cafe closed early. It was supposed to be in the room next to the telephones.
The job fair had a handful of employers there. Doherty Staffing solutions, Hilton Minneapolis, Hyatt Regency, Kraus Anderson Construction company, the Mall of America, Marquette Hotel, and Sheraton Hotel had a presence at the site. Not too many employers in light of the number of homeless people in attendance.
On the transportation front, the MTC did not provide any free bus fares or cards. One bright spot, Minneapolis Public Schools did have some one fare rides in the Education section.
As for me, the sad truth is that I will not, in all likelihood, have adequate shelter beginning tomorrow. The emergency shelters at Tramp Camp and Harbor lights are only good for staying warm- not good sleep or showering.
The lottery did not go well last night. The place was brimming with unmet needs, despite the project homeless connect earlier in the day. At present, I am only eligible for waitlist stays because you become ineligible after each 28 day stay for a period of 28 days. I attended the lottery and did not get on the waitlist.
I spent my last night at OurSavior and must now return to the emergency shelters (either Tramp Camp, Dorothy Day in St. Paul, or SafeBay). None of these options is good. There is no locker in SafeBay or Tramp Camp on the first floor making it a risky environment. At the same time, I find the showers inadequate at these locations. I currently have all of my things packed around with me. I can store a few items at Our Savior, but not until 6pm. I had to do my laundry before obtaining storage- no point in not having clean clothes or storing dirty ones. (As regular readers know, locker storage is a critical unmet need for homeless people.)
Of course, I conducted as much outreach as I could under the circumstances. Thank you to all who listened.
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