Author Topic: The homeless  (Read 2785 times)

skdadl

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The homeless
« on: September 12, 2008, 07:28:19 PM »
I'm not sure whether we've had an earlier general thread on the topic; I can't find one, although I know the topic has come up often in other contexts; please correct me if I'm duplicating.

I'm simply beside myself with a mix of anger and sadness. What happened:

I'm walking along my usual path to the boring store, and I see a woman slumped on our local bench. (We're small -- we only have one bench.) She has shopping bags with her, which I mistake for shopping. I look at her for a bit, wonder whether I should interfere, think maybe she is one of those people who has temporary narcolepsy ... I start to step away, and another woman, who I think might be one of the kind careworkers from the nursing home, comes up to me and asks whether we shouldn't do something.

So together we go back. I kneel down and take sleeping woman's hand. In her hand, I discover a lighter. Woman wakes up. She tells us that she is homeless; she's tried several shelters already, and there are no spaces. I ask her whether she has any ciggies, and she says no, all out, so I give her my last pack and promise to come back with more. She has masses -- really beautiful masses -- of long red-blonde hair, but she is thin as a rail and 'way stressed out. And exhausted.

Conversation ensues. Kind careworker tries coming up with positive ideas, all batted down. I finally go off to get money, more cigs, and grokkeries, promising to come back.

I was thinking at first to buy her one of the prepared sandwiches that boring store makes, but then I thought that might be condescending, me making the choice. Maybe I should have done that because she was weak. I dunno.

So anyway. I went back. There she was, slumped over again, ciggie in her hand having gone out. But she woke up again; I gave her a new pack and a $20 bill, and talked to her for a bit. I asked her where she'd spent last night. "Right here," she said.

Oh, shit.

I asked her whether the cops ever came by, and she said yes. They are apparently nice; they make calls for her; but she says there's no place that will take her in.

The whole way along my walk I was looking for cop cars. I hate to do that, but I was sorely tempted. Would that have been wrong? To say to them, "Look, you guys -- you gotta help that woman"?

Anyway, there weren't any, and I had to get home. Oh, shit. What do we do?

deBeauxOs

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2008, 07:43:24 PM »
You could try phoning around, see if there are any places where she could stay, how she could get there.  Take the information to her, let her make the decision, find out how you can facilitate that for her.  She may be dehydrated, but if there are no facilities for her to use near or around her bench, what will she do?

If seems as though she is street savvy.  The bench is located in a relatively safe neighbourhood, right?

skdadl

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2008, 07:51:08 PM »
Well, yes and no. The neighbourhood itself, off the main drag, is ultra-douce, mainly  because it is dead-end streets of douce family housing. But the bench is on a main drag, in a wee parkette, and we know there have been sudden rapes and abductions there.

It is dark here. I'm not going out again. But I'll think about phoning. Is it wrong to call the cops? Maybe I could look up the native peoples' org that takes food out to street people -- she isn't one of them, but I don't think they discriminate.

deBeauxOs

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2008, 08:00:01 PM »
It can't hurt to phone a shelter for information on what is available to her.

Sadly, based on the reactions that I've received when I've helped street persons - once I invited a woman I met who was begging near Bousheys on Elgin Street into that grocery store with me and I let her pick about $20. worth of groceries - not a lot of people actively try to help them them so if the first place you call can't help, ask for another number.  It's not like they are swamped with calls from concerned citizens who want to do something to help.

Toedancer

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2008, 08:00:31 PM »
It sux when one sees it eh, right there in front of you. And some people don't walk around with earphones in their ears listening to music, or sending a text msg. on cell, or the other 101 ways we have to ignore what we see.

She probably is dehydrated. A big thingie of O.J. or the kind the astronauts drink, forget name now. Take that to her in daylight. Meantime:  1-866-392-3777
Offers assistance in finding emergency shelter or a meal. And then of course if you think mental health is involved there is good old http://www.gersteincentre.org/

I've been off the streets for too long now to remember the resources skdadl.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

skdadl

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2008, 08:16:05 PM »
I left a message at the Native Friendship Centre. I'm still thinking.

ETA: Damn and drat: I wish I had bought her some food and a drink. I just wasn't thinking fast enough.

Toedancer

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2008, 08:35:15 PM »
You've lifted her spirits, she knows you'll be back Take heart.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

skdadl

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2008, 08:47:55 PM »
Walking over with apple juice early tomorrow. We'll see. Lord, have mercy.

pogo

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 10:15:02 PM »
The worst is that even agencies designed to help cannot help.  What a sick society we live in.  Of course most Canadians are basing the vote on who has the best solution.

skdadl

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2008, 02:12:01 PM »
Well, she wasn't there, but you probably knew that ...

One other thing I didn't think of fast enough. Just a parking lot away from that parkette is the nursing home T lived and died in. On the main floor there are public washrooms and couches, and there's a cafeteria (although it keeps odd hours). I could have just steered her there -- there's a code to get in the main doors, but (1) I know it, and (2) it's not hard to wait for someone else to come along and let you in with them.

I am so slow.  :(

deBeauxOs

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2008, 02:17:13 PM »
Next time.  She may be back.

BCseawalker

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2009, 01:39:46 PM »
Incredibly intolerant, insensitive, even hateful comments are dominating the comment section of this CBC report on Victoria's homeless. Word must have got out that the few comments in support of the homeless were winning the ratings game.

Alison

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2009, 03:40:07 PM »
Ocean, it's almost always a bad idea to read CBC comments.
Do you already know of David Eby? I'm sure you must. Lawyer to the homeless, ran and lost in last Vancouver civic election - very very bad sign that he lost, just made Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
Just networking here...

BCseawalker

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Re: The homeless
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2009, 05:21:24 PM »
Didn't know Eby had been made ED of the BCCLA. Great news. Was disappointed he didn't make it for mayor, but there may be hope for the future. He did do very well.

Had the pleasure of meeting David at a Poverty Forum in Vancouver a couple of years ago. We'd been invited to attend as "expert speakers," along with two other people, both academics.

 

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