So, I’m reposting something Tami Miller from Friends of the State St. Family wrote . . . because I am still thinking about it this morning. From Facebook.
I AM FURIOUS…. Imagine someone you don’t know waking you up at 12:15 am on a work night by banging on your windows or walking up to you and shaking you awake….then asking you these questions:
What are your initials?
gender? – f/m/t
What race are you?
Are you Hispanic or Non Hispanic?
Do you identify as LGBTQ?
Are you a single adult?
How many people live in your household?
Are you chronically homeless?
Do you have a mental illlness?
Do you have a substance abuse problem?
Do you have HIV?
Do you have physical disabilities?
Do you have a history of domestic violence?
Did you Age out of foster care or juvenile system? if yes – what age and state?
Have you served in us military?-
and then walk away.
I got a terrified call from Ray, one of our regular car campers last night because this was done to him- and every other homeless indvidual around the city.
It takes a long time to develop trust with people who live like this, and Ray was SO dehumanized by the experience at 12:15am- on a WORK NIGHT- (yes, a lot of homeless individuals WORK….) He said he doesn’t want any contact from us anymore, and he is moving where no one can find him…..
Because that is exactly what some homeless outreach workers (NOT FSSF) did on the behest of the City for the National Point In Time count.
The Point In TIme (PIT) was last night. The City asks homeless outreach workers to collect information on homeless individuals… we help, but because we have regular, sustained relationships with the folks we do outreach with we do NOT follow protocol and wake them up AFTER 10pm in the dead of winter and ask them those questions.
We go out and check in on all of the known sites we have and offer them emergency supplies- and we are done by 8:30pm…hey, if the city tells trick or treaters not to bother folks after 8:30 pm then why is it acceptable to do that to an extremely vulnerable homeless person???
If you have sustained relationships like we do with the folks outside- you don’t have to ask them those questions, you know most of the answers by the time you have spent getting to know them and what is going on in their lives and helping them connect with the services that are appropriate…..and you wouldn’t out of respect for thier human DIGNITY. What happened to a trauma- informed approach???
I am outraged at the blatant disregard for people’s well-being, and the disregard to the trust we have built over months and years which is now shattered- because the people who did this identified themselves as outreach workers- and WE are the only outreach workers that they have known to come out to them on any regular basis— so they THINK they were with US. AND there was no reason to do this- I informed the worker from the unnamed agency around 7:30pm we did the count in this particular area, and were swinging through again to see if anyone else came in as we finished an hour later…and I would e-mail him the stats in the morning.
WHY is it such a foriegn concept to treat people who are homeless like we would any other citizen of this city? I don’t know what to do at this point, I feel like crying- sitting here, worrying how many more relationships were ruined last night? How much trust was shattered? How many people were so humiliated by this protocol, that they will simply slink away and we will never be able to find them again….?
If you are homeless and this happened to you in the middle of the night last night… I am so sorry… you deserve better than that- and I thought we had made sure you were spared by volunteering our time and efforts to help. That was not FSSF…please know, we do this NOT because we are paid, we all volunteer our time— we do this because you MATTER. And I am appauled that you were treated in such an intrusive and humiliating manner. I think the intentions are probably good- for getting govt. grant money and federal funds for homeless programs… but I think it’s time to weigh prescribed protocol versus human dignity. We can get the information and do it in a way that does not terrify, endanger and embarrass human beings… it is time we apply some common sense and compassion to this ridiculous exercise. It is time to make a change.
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