1/5/2020... Hello Internet, how are you today? I am better than expected. Before I get to today's topic I want to share with you what I am eating lately. Today I ate my favorite go to brunch meal of one avocado, two toasted bagels and two hard boiled eggs. This makes two yummy sandwiches and is very filling and energizing. I often use sriracha chili sauce to give it a kick. Sometimes I am able to drink a cup of coffee. For an extra .97 cents per bottle at Whole Foods I get 50.7 fluid ounces of spring water. I try to drink two of those a day which adds up to about ¾ of a gallon. When in this kind of situation you really want to drink a gallon of water a day for optimal performance. Sometimes this is the only meal of the day I am able to afford. I supplement the other quart of H2O by drinking tap water but often the ¾ quarts make due.
I have been seldom fortunate enough to panhandle the $11 it costs at Whole Foods to eat once a day. Some days I make nothing at all. $8 without the coffee. When I am really balling I buy a bag of sea salt and vinegar kettle potato chips. Buying a loaf of bread also cuts down on the daily cost but I then sacrifice being frugal by carrying extra weight. The only government assistance I receive is $194 a month in Food Stamps, or what is known today as EBT or SNAP food assistance. I am able to receive this assistance because I am going to school for my high school diploma at Goodwill Industries. With a place to live and a stove $194 in food assistance affords you to eat three nutritious meals a day on your own. Without a stove and living on the streets I am barely able to afford one meager meal a day. I have been considering buying freeze dried pea protein isolate to at least supplement one meal a day. After exceeding my budget of $6.50 a day my food stamps barely last me three weeks. I am then forced to beg to eat the remaining seven to ten days of the month until I receive more benefits. That happens on the 7th of every month.
Which brings us to the topic of the day. Part of the reason I shared with you my meager diet, paid for by panhandling and the mandated and often controversial kindness of the American taxpayer, is because it goes to the heart of the issues in progressive Seattle. The cities harm reduction drug policies in social services for the homeless and low income citizens. I myself have been sober since September 7, 2013. That adds up to 2311 days. Yes I am counting and yes it helps. A very prevalent and noticeable population of homeless people in this country are not so fortunate. Abuse of substances like methamphetamines, opioids, cocaine and alcohol are tearing our society apart from the inside out. An average of two hundred people a year die of opioid overdoses in Seattle alone. That is 54% of all opioid drug deaths in King County. This is just from heroin and pills. Something must be done. Harm reduction drug policies are helping cut down on those deaths in a big way. I will go into how and what it does below. Also the detrimental effects it has on those of us who are fighting for stability.
First let’s define harm reduction according to Google:
“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.”
It is this homeless bloggers opinion that harm reduction is a policy and method many cities are adopting to reduce overdose deaths for at risk drug users. It also improves the quality of life for the population as a whole. The way they do this is to allow people using drugs like heroin a safe place to use for their safety. Also a needle exchange to prevent Hepatitis C and other blood borne illnesses. If and when they do overdose, people trained in this medical practice can administer a life saving drug. This drug is called Naloxone or Narcan and often stops a fatal overdose in its tracks. Nobody wants to see people suffering from heroin addiction die alone on the streets. The hope is that these people can be saved and go on to drug treatment. That is my hope anyway and I am certain this is the city's strategy. This does not usually happen. They are free to return to a harm reduction facility to use again as a revolving door of pain, suffering, addiction and homelessness. In the end, I am grateful that society and metropolitan cities are ending the war on drugs and helping these people. I used to be one of them. Personally I was more into uppers but it is the same idea. I was one of the lucky ones to survive unsupervised. Unfortunately there are horrible consequences to even the most noble of intentions. Keep reading.
Where are these harm reduction facilities you may ask? If the title of today’s blog has not already clued you in I will tell you. Emergency homeless shelters meant to be a transition off the streets. A place you stay after a tragedy with no other place to go. A place to sleep and rest for work in the morning. A place to save up money with either gainful employment or Social Security payments so you can secure, affordable or otherwise, housing and get off the streets for good. Most of these facilities have everything you need to do so. Showers, laundry, "nutritious meals" (often expired food that makes you sick), "helpful" case workers and secure lockers to store your belongings. These are just a few of the much needed resources that are meant to help you get back on your feet. Now imagine trying to do this with a constant 24/7 tweaker party going on in the bunks next to you. People wandering around looking for something to steal from you or your neighbor for their next drug fix. What is meant to help people has actually endangered lives and caused a revolving door inside of a vacuum with no way out. What starts out as an emergency place to sleep turns into a perpetual residence. A safe place to get high. That is not how emergency homeless shelters are designed to function.
But wait, there's more! Violence, bullies, bedbugs and open drug use are what await you in your local homeless shelter. Pimps, posititution, drug dealers and gang members with homes pretending to be homeless to victimize and the truly homeless that are forced to live there. No real way to confirm if anyone truly needs a place to sleep. These con artists exploit our weaknesses for profit off this flawed system. Diseases, parasitic scabies and lice, black mold and unwashed filth are common and accepted norms in these crack house homeless shelters. Sleeping with one eye open so no one steals from you. How am I supposed to get rest for work in the morning and become productive in this environment? Believe it or not we are safer sleeping on the streets. It has nothing to do with the rules for many of us and in reality there are very few enforced rules. It has to do with safety and dignity. We are humans. We are not animals, and many of us are forced to live like animals in cages. Don’t believe me? Stay in your local city's homeless shelter for one week and report back. You won’t last the full week and will be shocked. If you make it out in one piece. Be very careful.
Believe it or not many in the chronic homeless population are sober, sane and kind people who are working a job or looking for work. We are people who deserve a second chance and should not be subjected to abuse because of other people’s illness. This is not something to get over for a roof over your head. We need sober homeless facilities for people who are working toward stability. There are already plenty of much needed crack house shelters that use harm reduction methods to save lives. Now how about saving the lives of those of us who are sober and ready to get our lives back? Is that too much to ask? Tired of having to step over that man or woman or even a child sleeping on the sidewalk? Open some God damned sober homeless shelters in so called progressive liberal cities! All cities of every political affiliation. Do not blame us for having the self respect to sleep outside rather than sleep around drug addicts and filth.
Going on three pages today and I really let it all out. Thank you for reading and I hope you understand a bit more about what is going on out here. Something I didn't really go into and will sum up with today is that the dangers of harm reduction doesn't only affect homeless shelters. These are the same people you will encounter at soup kitchens who try to sell you drugs and cause fights. As you merely try to get a bite to eat and maybe a warm jacket. It is not worth it and honestly feels like jail. I cannot live like this anymore. A never ending cycle that seems like a money making business. Ok rant over. I need help to escape this nightmare.
Keep coming back for insights into life on the streets and what can be done to help the homeless. I won’t be preaching the entire time. If you feel the urge please donate to my room rental funds and help me attain safe and sober shelter from the storm. I am still sleeping in a city park and having difficulty staying dry. I apply at a city funded job tomorrow called ‘Downtown Ambassador’. They clean the city streets and direct tourists with directions for minimum wage. It comes with health and dental insurance. You also get a monthly bus pass and the biggest perk is they help you get an apartment after the first three months on the job. I just need a place to sleep while I work and save up. Fingers crossed I get this job. Tomorrow's blog will have more details about this opportunity.
One last word on this today. It is an ugly subject but I need to get it out there for people to read. These issues I addressed are not just in the men's shelters. I have heard of sexual assault in the women's facilities along with everything else. Scroll back on my previous blog postings to read more and I hope to see you again. Smiles and blessings to you in the amazing new year 2020. Peace.