This picture is the stuff of a friend of mine who got evicted this morning.
He lived in this apartment for the last year.
He got evicted because a friend of his overdosed in his apartment. He had 4 friends over for his birthday. This person when outside, found one of the many dope boys that trolls Akron. She shot up, came back to the apartment and overdosed.
If he had let her die he probably would still be housed. If he had carried her out of the apartment and dumped her on the sidewalk he would almost surely be housed.
But he called 911. The paramedics came and that was all the agency who runs his house needed to hear. He had to go.
The police always walk through a house in overdose situations. They found no drugs or drug paraphernalia. My friend wasn’t doing drugs. None of the other people having dinner with him for his birthday were doing drugs. It was just a bad situation he got caught up in.
This is how our system works. The system is the system. It has very little room for interpretation. When you’re poor every interaction with the government is a threat to your existence.
On top of that, no one in this system asked my friend where he was going to go from here. He came from our tent village. They knew he was homeless previously. There wasn’t even so much as a single question as to what he was going to do next. Not even, “Can I drop you off in the woods somewhere?” Nothing. He is dead to them.
That’s not their problem. There was an overdoes in the house. He had to leave.
What’s the chance he’s going to get subsidized housing now? Or ever again? Maybe in a few years he could try again.
In the meantime, he is now homeless.
He was an administrator at our village previously. I’m putting him in one of our houses. It needs some leadership that I think he can provide.
The model we are working on is to get run down houses and then have homeless people move in and update the houses. One of the biggest things these people are missing is having a sense of purpose. It’s an incredibly important part of being human. Our program tries to get these people involved in a community as fast as possible.
Dignity and self-respect. These two things are major driving forces of being human. You don’t realize how important they are until they are taken away. The system is incredibly efficient at stripping dignity and self-respect. “You are a failure and a drain on society. Go away!”
On the drug issue:
America is a very judgmental, moralistic society. So we have a tendency to make snap judgments of people when they are involved in drugs. Yet, this decade is the heaviest drug use per person per year in U.S. history.
We can’t just always turn our backs on people with drug problems. It does nothing to help the situation. It’s bad for us and it’s bad for them.
We have so far to go as a nation and world. And sadly the answer is just simple compassion mixed with a little forgiveness.
Judgment does nothing other than hurt the world. But sadly, I see no evidence that the powerful have any interest in doing anything other than blaming the victim. I see it in every system I have the “pleasure” to work in. The system is fine. It’s the people the system serves that are the problem. And so, making change becomes a Herculean task. The powerful hold all the cards. They have little to no oversight. Getting them to change even a little bit takes massive energy.
But it’s worth it. Otherwise, oppression will just get worse. We must push against the machine. Always. The writers of our Declaration of Independence knew this well. They told us to be aware of a government with a “long train of abuses and usurpations.” Pushing against the machine is almost an American obligation. It is our right and duty to do so.
Right now I have one simple goal: To get the government of Akron to say the words: “We have a homeless problem and we need to explore more ways to help these people.”
I’m not even at the point of asking them to do anything. I just want them to acknowledge there is a problem. Because so far all they have said is that they have a “Sage problem.” The homeless would be just fine if Sage would go away.
I’m not going away.