Here we go with my third instalment of the year on the weird and unbelievable things I have heard or encountered on the road. This time it covers July, August and September.
1. “They are breeding like bunnies here because the only way the County cares about you is if you are a homeless family. This city has become one big homeless orgy.”
The nice lady in Minnesota was serious when she was saying this, as it was her contention that her organization gets stuck with all the people the County doesn’t want to help. To her this meant all single people.
2. “They can’t take any woman in her third trimester because they deem her to be unemployable, which means they don’t think they can house her.”
Oh Tennessee and some of your organizations that help (some?) families.
3. “If you are going to help someone get another apartment after they lost their first apartment, isn’t that just enabling behaviour that just gives people a free ride?!”
That is one way of looking at it. I call it an opportunity to reflect, learn and come up with a housing plan that is different and hopefully more successful than the last attempt.
4. “You’ve got to hug ’em…all of ’em…all of the time. Every time you see them. That is the only way they know you really care.”
And not a bad way to cross professional boundaries and maybe even get yourself killed. How about showing people how much you care by getting them housed and helping them rebuild appropriate social networks?
5. “I read your email to our CoC coordinator. I am now convinced that so-called “experts” are the reason why [name removed] is a nut-bar. He drank your kool-aid. Now the rest of us have to suffer through this coordinated access crap.”
Some people are really happy, aren’t they? Especially with change and doing things that, I don’t know, are a federal requirement for funding.
6. “Are you more of a RUSH or Nickelback sort of guy? You could be more Barenaked Ladies though…hey, didn’t they do the Big Bang song?”
And now is the time when all Canadians face palm and wait for remarks about igloos, hockey, maple syrup, and the question about whether or not we know Larry in Calgary or Suzie in Montreal…or if we have ever been to “that lake” not far from “that city” that was in the “Province of Toronto” that they went to on a camping trip when they were a kid. They caught a fish there and met nice people, but the water was cold.
7. “I get what you are saying about safer crack use kits, but wouldn’t it be safer to just take the crack away from them or call the police?”
This is proof that some days even when I am at my best delivering my favourite training on Recovery and Wellness, I am clearly not getting through.
8. “How can we possibly need to house more than 192 chronically homeless people to reach zero if we only counted 192 in our last count?”
This one sounds innocent enough, but trying to explain that: a) Any PiT Count will always be an underestimate; and, b) Some people that do not currently meet the definition of chronic homeless will meet those requirements over the next two years – well that just about made the poor man’s head explode.
9. Street Outreach Worker: At least 90% of the people I work with do not want to be housed.
Me: That seems way, way way too high to me. How do you know they do not want to be housed?
SOW: I just know. I have been going this 20 years. You can just tell by looking at a person.
Me: Have you actually asked all of them if you can help them get housing?
SOW: No. That would be a waste of time.
Me: So, of the 100% of people you work with that you have never asked if they want housing, at least 90% you know will say no.
Me: Have you considered maybe a different profession than Street Outreach?
SOW: Why would I? I love this job. My people love me too. We’re like a big family.
Maybe this one is more sad than funny, weird or just plain crazy shit.
10. “We don’t just need small homes for the homeless. We need super-micro homes and tree houses. If we could take people out of the city and to the woods, they would survive and thrive in these homes on small spaces in the forest. And it would be easy to teach them to hunt and know what bushes they could eat and what not. This would help all of them that do drugs get clean. It would give them a sense of responsibility. They could eat the meat and sell the furs and stuff, just like that show on TV.”
This was from an email from a guy in central Michigan asking for a letter of support from us in his application for a reality TV show. In case you are wondering, I declined to provide the letter.
11. “What are your thoughts on sterilization of the homeless?”
Bad idea. And illegal. But thanks for asking. Though speaking of sterilization, have you considered it – oh nice person from a certain elected official’s office in Kentucky looking for content to help you with your speaking notes? I get there are things in Kentucky in the national media you want to take the attention off of, but seriously? Sterilization?
12. “We are doing research on how much experts, academics, researchers and consultants get paid to deal with the homeless issue. Please indicate which of the following is most true: you make less than $600 per hour; you make $600 or more per hour.”
Is there seriously someone that works in this industry making $600 or more per hour? If so, our pricing (and strong desire to only break even and make no money) is way off.
13. “Do you know Dave Morris? He was my favorite college professor. He is funny like you.”
Dave sounds nice. Really, really nice. And no, I don’t know him. I don’t know all college professors. Nor do I know all funny people. And given you live in California and I live in Ontario, and given you did not even indicate which college you went to, I have zero idea who Dave Morris is. If you see him, though, please tell him Iain says hi. Iain from OrgCode…in Canada…you know Iain De Jong?