[Hpn] Ex-homeless people make good staff? Why or why not? Your experiences?

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Wed, 27 Sep 2000 17:03:03 -0700

aw gee, Tom. you just keep baiting me along, don't you?

one basic tenet of the advocacy we do at the Coalition is inclusion 
of homeless and formerly homeless people in every aspect of program 
design, implementation, and operation. unfortunately, all too often 
the only jobs these programs will hire homeless and formerly homeless 
people to do are the entry level positions - and often these 
positions have zero advancement potential. the folks who take these 
jobs are frequently set up for burnout because the programs and 
services don't have decent staff support and training opportunities.

so, here you have, let's say, a shelter monitor stooping beneath a 
glass ceiling that's only five feet from the floor. the monitor is 
homeless, so when his shift ends he goes "home" to another shelter. 
the pay is shit - not a living wage in anyone's book - and so plans 
to save for permanent housing become fleeting in the face of the 
rising costs of living. (I've actually heard shelter management 
defend the $5.15 hourly wage for homeless shelter monitors under the 
rationale: "it's not like they're paying rent or anything.")

he also gets treated like shit and blamed by shelter management and 
residents alike for every little problem and fuckup - yet his 
responsibility is to serve as an example for others who are trying to 
exit homelessness.

I've seen some who are really motivated. they take classes and work 
hard and take their experiences with them into social service work, 
but being formerly homeless is a barrier as much as an asset in the 
homeless services job market. and I've seen just as many who use the 
job to make money on the side - everything from selling dope to 
clients (with the understanding that if they get behind on their dope 
bills they also lose their bed) to stealing food and other donations 
- even stealing shelter resident's belongings. the absolute topper 
was a report we substantiated and grieved to the city, when night 
staff at SF's Mission Rock emergency shelter intimidated an 18 
year-old young man into accepting $120 to let them gang-bang his 15 
year-old sister, or they were going to kick them both out in the 
worst el niño rains SF had seen in years.

religious charities are the absolute worst, the only homeless 
management level staff they employ are zealots chosen by "poster 
child" potential, much like the guy in the article below.

the thing you must remember when you read shit like that article is 
that the sole purpose of articles like these is to raise money for 
the charity. this is another prime example of how these organizations 
pimp homelessness to perpetuate themselves. it's also pretty clear 
that seeds of hope doesn't have any homeless programs, or they would 
have pimped off them, too. and they don't do the first damned thing 
to end homelessness, why should they? they want to have their jobs 
for a long, long time.

so, the question becomes: what does this guy being formerly homeless 
actually have to do with the article? and we should all be so lucky 
as to have an uncle, or any relative, to help when we hit bottom.

>``They must see the Christ in me. I can't tell them, I must show

yeah, well I sure hope GEEEZUS is wearing a condom when he's in you, 
pal. otherwise the Pope's gonna really be pissed.



ps- in a related note, STREET SHEET's recent exposé on the financial 
misfeasance of Frank Hudson - CEO of Catholic Charities San Francisco 
- cost that asshole his
$175,000+ per year job, and also delayed the potential closure of 
Guerrero House - a residential program for homeless youth - for at 
least two years. Now, if we can just shame the Archdiocese into 
giving all the real estate their pimping gained them back for 
homeless services, preferably permanent housing, we'll call that a 

>How do formerly homeless people "work out" as staff in programs for
>homeless people, such as shelters?  What's your personal experience?
>What factors might explain how well or badly ex-homeless staff "work out"?
>FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 24, 2000
>      Photo Advisory  AZCAS101 of Sept. 22
>      Casa Grande Dispatch
>CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) _ At one time, Randy Schafer was living
>on the streets, eating from trash bins and sleeping in the open air
>while suppressing his drug addiction. Now, more than 20 years
>later, Schafer is lending helping hand to the homeless as the new
>Seeds of Hope director.
>Schafer lived on the streets for almost a month when he first
>moved to Arizona from California. He tried unsuccessfully to change
>his lifestyle and desperately wanted out of the drug societal
>circle. Schafer hoped for a change.
>After basic needs overtook pride and shame, Schafer called an
>uncle, who lived in the Phoenix area, for help. That was 1979.
>Since then, Schafer has obtained his GED and received a bachelor's
>degree in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University. He
>became a Christian and got married to the daughter of a preacher.
>They have three children and Schafer said he has since devoted his
>life to God.
>``That's what we're here for. We're here for Jesus Christ, to
>honor him,'' he said.
>And since Seeds of Hope is a Christian-based organization, it
>seems like a good match.
>Sure, there is more money in engineering, he said, but Schafer
>felt led to this job. There is more satisfaction here than in
>engineering, he said.
>``This allows me to work with the disadvantaged, and that is
>where my heart is.''
>It is a scriptural mandate to help others, Schafer said.
>``They must see the Christ in me. I can't tell them, I must show
>Schafer's wife, Jan, taught him about Christianity while they
>were dating. He sang in the choir and has taught Sunday school for
>the past 15 years. Schafer also has been involved in a prison
>fellowship for the last five years, but that wasn't enough for him.
>There was a calling to the ministry in some way, but the road was
>not visible to Schafer just yet. All he knew was that he wanted to
>help people by giving them a hand up.
>His career before Seeds of Hope included being a machinist in
>Phoenix before moving to Casa Grande in 1983. Schafer also worked
>for Allied Signal as a project manager on the B-2 bomber from 1985
>to 1990. For the past 10 years, he ran Vision-Air Inc. In June of
>this year the business closed, but he managed to find jobs for all
>of his employees but one, who started up his own company. It was
>hard to find his own niche in the religious society, but the new
>job is leading Schafer in the right direction.
>This fall he plans to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in
>Phoenix to work on obtaining a master's degree in divinity. He has
>begun the ordination process to pastor for a Presbyterian church
>But going to school will only take up part of his time _
>full-time work will be at Seeds of Hope, expanding the program to
>help more people, especially those in west Casa Grande.
>Schafer wants to meet with the Seeds of Hope board to discuss
>expanding the efforts on the west side of town and to build a
>church-based community there.
>Another goal for Schafer is to open an additional soup kitchen
>for westside residents. Currently, there is only one soup kitchen
>in Casa Grande.
>``We are feeding those who wouldn't eat otherwise,'' he said.
>Peer leaders and adults help children through the Cabana Project
>at Seeds of Hope, and Schafer wants to expand that program as well.
>A peer leadership program is also on the goal list to teach
>children leadership skills, and a program for children and young
>adults who have completed Project YES (a Seeds of Hope program in
>which court-referred youths do community service) and who want to
>continue their service. That is where the churches come in _ to
>entertain with family activities.
>``If you really want to affect people, empower them to give to
>others,'' Schafer said.
>AP-WS-09-25-00 0005EDT
>Received  Id AP1002687644B03A on Sep 24 2000 23:05
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>8000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
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Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
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San Francisco, CA 94102
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