The authorities grant us a hearing of sorts at the beginning. It’s an appearance before a judge who makes a decision on our eviction process. For many of us, by the time it happens, we’ve been forced to move to a rental unit. The rest, like me, have a mortgage we can’t pay by that point. Different judge, same results.
“I sentence you to live homeless. You will no longer be respected by anyone you meet and no one will treat you as a human being,” says His or Her Honor.
That’s a literal interpretation of the judge’s ruling, be it small claims court for the eviction of a renter or Superior Court in the case of foreclosure. Either way, it’s the same thing. When it was my turn “in the box”, I even said, “This means I’ll be homeless.” The judge’s response, “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
That’s the end of the “help” provided. Pamphlets are handed out talking about free legal services in the courthouse. Following it up finds a desk with a sign saying an attorney works that desk 2-3 days per week for limited hours. Other handouts suggest Social Services where a two-hour wait among dozens of Mexican women with 3-4 kids apiece merits a chance to talk to someone at the counter. Next comes an appointment with a social worker a few days later who hands you a stack of paper, perhaps 20 pages, to complete. I’m not sure what they call it but it’s actually an “application to be homeless.”
From that point I was involved in the process, “getting help”. I qualified for food stamps, an amount of $149.00 per month, which is all an adult male needs to eat for 30 days. To earn it I had to apply for 10 jobs per week … dressed as a homeless guy. Then begins the runaround of all the agencies professing to offer help to the homeless. Each requires 1-3 interviews where they talk about all the good things they can-will do for you … but nothing gets done.
Here’s what the homeless guy ends up with. Places like Brother Benno’s are open early in the morning, circa 6:00 a.m., where hot “food” is offered and showers are available. If you don’t care about walking in water where others with various foot diseases are showering, a dozen at a time, all is well. Breakfast is served using a menu that makes what I ate during the years I was a parochial school student seem like a banquet feast. Either way, they close at eleven a.m. and you’re on your own for another bleak day and night.
Let’s roll forward to 4⅓ years later. After living 1,592 days and nights in my car where I was treated by society like vermin, I managed to connive a way back out. It involved my former work in the insurance industry doing something I’m very good at with a very wealthy client. It was a break provided by our Father afforded to very few. Yet, it came to me and I acted on it.
Still no hearing. Counting the wind-down time as I was losing my home, the last step before I was cut loose to be a homeless guy, approximately five years of my life was stolen from me. My offense? A personal tragedy that left me treated by my physician for depression. If you’ve ever committed that, or any similar offense, I may be describing your future.
I’m just sayin’.
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