32 Degrees

Last year I worked on the Cold Weather Shelter here in Nashville with some really amazing people that made things happen. They had one goal in mind, getting those homeless into a shelter on cold nights and later even raised the temperature to 32 degrees. This was amazing to me however this year, more politics.

With the recent cold snap hitting the US there have been some really cold nights with temps dropping to below freezing. Anxious to help at the bus station again this year I was saddened when a text came through my phone that the cold weather shelter wouldn’t be open Tuesday night. Interesting because the next 3 morning lows are predicted to be at 32 or below.

Last year the cold weather shelter committee put together a cold weather overflow shelter together in just 8 weeks. I know amazing. Watching these members of our community, leaders, get things done showed me there was a side to politics I didn’t know. This all happened during a very turbulent time for the Homeless Planning Council, Judith Tagget just resigned and Jay Servais stepped into Judith’s former role. While members tried to get the temperature raised to 32 degrees, period, before it was 28 degrees or below for 2 or more hours. They’re trying to do that again and I say bullshit. An email stated that a document was being drafted and more news to come. Well I kept my eyes open to the regular social media outlets and messaged those who might know what’s going on. Well eventually I found out that they wanted to set the temp to 32 but only if it’s 32 or below for 2 or more hours. REALLY? Last year a committee member stated he couldn’t justify opening up the shelter if it’s 32 for less than that time. Shocking. He said it was a money thing. Well news flash we have $50million dollars for the homeless. No excuses anymore.

I’m just going to come out with it…..

So much of my life I’ve had to bite my tongue so to speak because it wasn’t proper for the ministers daughter to be saying that. My fathers image was important not only because of the important role he had in the community, it was because I loved and respected him. Yes my tongue was sore back then also. I believe this is why I’ve never really held any weight in those who don’t know me yet assume and judge me unless I call you my friend, then I care. So when I give my opinion below, it is just that, mine.

$50 million in American Rescue Plan money going into Nashville’s Homeless population but, not immediately. No surprise the politics involved, it might start hitting the streets in about 3 months. Hey I get it, accountability and transparency are the code words of today. New law passed making it a crime to camp in public/state parks, a felony. Well here’s my take on it, when these funds are finally working for those who want help great, those who refuse the help and stay in these parks anyways, the law should immediately go into effect and arrests should be made. I hear a lot of “let’s get the language right” before they can disperse said funds, will you be held accountable for those who died while waiting for you? Will criminal charges be sought against you? How arrogant! Start moving and then tweak what needs to be tweaked. There doesn’t seem to be enough urgency in this world today and that’s sad when lives are being lost.

I have to step away from the tables. A loud and aggressive voice has come to the table and his movements just scare the hell out of me. In a room full of people my anxiety makes it feel like the walls are closing in and everyone looks really weird. My flight comes into play and I’ve got to get out of there. Memories of my marriage come flooding back. I can’t continue on.

Life will be changing for residents here at Hadley Park at the beginning of the new fiscal year, January. I applaud the work that Ms. Hardy, property manager, has completed in such a short time since being here. From new 24/7 security to more ample lighting for the grounds. When I got the email I sat and cried tears of joy. I love my apartment but I couldn’t continue to go one living like this. She changed it. I can continue loving it now for as long as allowed. Walking through the wall of hate to enter the building probably will never change but, then their opinion has to matter to me in order for me to care about what they say so….It’s becoming more amusing then anything.

50 Million Dollars

No I didn’t win the lottery or a lawsuit. The winners here are the homeless in Nashville. The Homeless Planning Council and the Mayor John Cooper have spoken as to how it’ll be spent. I was honored to be at the signing by Mayor Cooper after the Homeless Planning Council meeting the day after the marathon Council Meeting approved the Mayors plan to help Nashville’s homeless and get into housing through a housing first approach. Living in an MDHA property, that is affordable housing but, now comes the wrap around services that is desperately needed for successful housing. It’s just not that simple to hand someone the keys and say “There you go” and leave never to be seen again. We need to learn how to live in this diverse living quarters, we need to find out how to get what we need to make it into a home, a home. Lovely words to hear daily.

Does this $50 million dollars means that’s it? We’ve got what we need to end homelessness? NO but, it’s a great beginning that’ll get thousands off the streets and into shelter, temp housing and even permanent housing. It’s hope for the future that no one shall be seen sleeping on the steps of a church or over a grate downtown for heat. This is giving us dignity and self respect. We still will need metro funds to continue the work of ending homelessness in Nashville. Now is when the real work begins and the next steps will define Nashville by the present and not the past.

I’ve been brave

So bringing Faith in from her morning ritual, I stopped and talked to a resident in the lobby, Ms. Connie, and asked her why residents hate me. She stated and I quote “it’s the way you carry yourself”. I actually had to look up the meaning of “carry yourself”. It obviously wasn’t the meaning I thought it was. It appears that my sarcastic personality is of great concern here. I really try hard not to say anything to anyone, unless asked something, except a Good Morning and a wave. I’m mostly a people watcher in an introvert kind of way but, mostly stay by myself. To have the problems I’ve had here because I have a sarcastic type personality is no reason to hurl death threats, intimidation and bullying at someone is just ridiculous. However she’s giving me insight on an issue I can control. I’m just like my mom, if someone says something really stupid the only response is something equally stupid aka sarcasm.

Here it is in a nut shell: why do I have to accept you for the way you are but, you can’t accept me for the way I am? When I was homeless we all accepted each other for who we were, we didn’t judge, we just were. Coming into a community that’s the opposite of what was for many years is hard. There appears to be a different set of rules in the housing community, rules I wasn’t notified of. I will be asking more residents about this and see what they have to contribute to this issue, just those who haven’t stolen from me, threatened me, bullied or intimidated me.

My no filter blog post

Those who know me, know that some days I just have no filter on my thoughts, it just comes right out my mouth. So, today I’m going to blog without a filter and say most of what you’re not suppose to say in this day & age.

Since moving into affordable housing I’ve experienced bulling, intimidation, threats of violence and over all fear of some residents, this even stems into the office. Trust is no where to be found here. A transfer to another property isn’t done anymore so, that’s out. I continue to love my apartment but, that’s it. Residents here think I’m stuck up because I’m not a real social person. If it wasn’t for Faith needing to go out 4-5 times a day, I doubt I’d ever leave me apartment, ever. All, most get out of me is a good morning and anything more is…. not the norm. I like my alone time, my private time. Then I’m called a racist by 2 men , who just want to stir up hate towards me within the community. both while threating me. The the new resident who tells others that “she doesn’t like me”. I respond with “you don’t know me well enough to not like me”. So life hasn’t been easy at all. It’s made me miss my days of homelessness, the peace, the campgrounds, the nature. I’ve moved into a concrete jungle where whites aren’t wanted. It’s a shame to because I don’t really see color, I see what’s inside, then make my decision as to whether or not to want a friendship. If that’s stuck up then I guess I’m stuck up.

Then there’s my sweet ESA Faith. It seems that some are afraid of dogs, large dogs, for one reason or another so, how do the residents react? One woman tried to assault Faith with a full water bottle. I don’t understand the thinking.

I’m ready to end it. No not suicide. I’m ready to pack everything up and put it in storage, go buy a van and live in it. No I won’t make any rash decisions but, it’s an option at the top of the list. It’s effecting my mental health. It’s effecting Faith.

I know that God has placed me here for His purpose and I have failed Him. I just can’t continue.

What I’ve learned living in an MDHA property

Hey you finally get affordable housing great right? WRONG.

This is my experience living in an MDHA property.

  1. If you’re going to break the rules do it when the office is closed. After all with all the security cameras on property, if the office staff didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.
  2. The security cameras are for corporate use not property use. Calling them on their bull shit and asking questions to understand they call you a trouble maker and difficult.
  3. You don’t get recertified once a year they do it when they feel like it.
  4. You alert the office to people who don’t belong on the property and they’ll look at you like you have lobsters coming out of your ears. After all they have to much work to do.
  5. There are different rules for different residents. Mostly bias shown.
  6. Assaults verbal or physical are told to the office and their response is “Well you have to consider your surroundings”. Tells me they justify it.
  7. You give up your rights to a peaceful safe existence when signing your lease. Inappropriate sexual comments are ignored by staff when reported.
  8. Failure to comply with “house rules” has no consequences yet they’ll threaten you with a violation of your lease. God forbid they’d really correct any issue.
  9. Security has increased and might finally work but, some guards have their nose stuck in their cell phones and don’t really care about what’s going on. Other guards are top notch and active in their jobs.

Yes there’s a new sheriff in town but, the deputy needs to go through sensitivity training.

Depression

Depression just sucks. You want to be happy, you want to feel good but, it’s just not. It’s like feeling blah all day and saying it’s okay, its not. You feel yourself slipping into this state of unhappiness when you have so much to be grateful for (words of my mother). I had at one time felt it coming on and fought so hard against it that I slept for 2 days. I was so exhausted.

Last month I felt myself slipping down that path again but, this time I didn’t catch it in time. I had to ride it out. Being alone, faking a smile, saying it’s okay when it’s not, was the normal. I didn’t even want to listen to music and reading lol that was the hardest struggle. Not 1 thought would stay in my head for very long. Concentrating was down to zero and yet I couldn’t shake it. I had to just ride it out. Well a break from it has happened and I’m back writing again. I wanted to see a therapist about it but no ones taking new patients. To see one virtually would be perfect but I didn’t have the $49 a session to see one. Maybe that’s a good thing. I may be normal, everyone’s depressed. So much work to make a smile. If it weren’t for Faith I’d just stay in my apartment becoming a hermit. Doing the laundry is the hardest. My arms feel like they weigh 500 lbs. each.

I try my best, that’s all I can do.

There’s a new sheriff in town

We’ve had our share of problems around here and with a new manager coming in I honestly wasn’t expecting much. What I ever wrong. She listened and took appropriate action in a list of priorities with the residents in mind. Could it be that this was the one? Was this the change we all needed?

I am basically a very impatient person which is one reason why I hate politics, but I want things done NOW, not next week but, NOW. So that being said after a week of what seemed like nothing was going on but in reality things were going on behind the scenes and finally she won. 24 hour security especially 1st of the month and a holiday weekend. I’ve never felt safer. Arriving home after 2 days with the kids I was happy to be home but even happier to see security in the front. Even dog owners are starting to pick up after months of ignoring it. I know I’ve stepped in enough.

There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Ms. Hardy at Hadley Park Towers. A safer, more pleasant atmosphere to reside in. I can even hear my radio now LOL. It’s good to be home.

Is all this really worth it?

As many know I love my apartment but, if I don’t feel safe, is it really worth it? I’ve wanted housing, any housing, for so long but, is it really worth it? First of all let me say it’s not MDHA’s fault. This goes much deeper. Being harassed, verbally assaulted, bullied and intimidated isn’t the fault of MDHA’s, it’s the residents. There are some here who have always made me feel welcomed and there are those that filled with hate.

The latest in a long list of issues happened last night when I took Faith out. I shouldn’t be afraid to take my dog out and be fearful of the bulling the shouts of intimidation and those comments of “I’ll knock you out”. This isn’t what I thought housing was going to be. I’m doing what I’m suppose to do and let the office know what and when things happen. It’s a slow process and recently I’ve learned that the process has to happen in order to get changes made. I’ve thought many times about when I was homeless I didn’t have to worry about threats and intimidations just, had to worry about making it through the day.

I thought the answer was out of sight out of mind. I’d stay in my apartment where I felt safe but, I have to go out because of Faith. I’ve never been the type of person who cared if people liked me or not but, this is unbearable. Keeping to myself isn’t working and it seems like it’ll never end unless I move out. Give them what they want and yes they’ve won. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. Depression has set in with everything going on this week. I remember what I felt the first time I saw the apartment. I want that feeling back again.

Other Side of the Coin

Is it really to much to ask to feel safe in the building where you live? To be able to take your dog out without getting shot? To exit the elevator without having to step over a pool of blood? I determined it was blood by the color and the fact that Faith walked around it.

I love my apartment. It’s not to big. It’s not to small. It’s perfect size for the both of us. It feels like home to us except for the occasional yelling and screaming the lesbian couple does about once ever 6 months or the weekend radio blaring over my TV because she alone for several hours. These are all things I can deal with and aren’t worth a huge battle.

I keep thinking back to the first day the new manager was on property, he said that I had to be more aware of my surroundings. Why would anyone say that to a 59 year old woman who uses a walker? Lack of empathy or even compassion is simply unacceptable anymore. However I am seeing the other side of the coin. I am living with the problems of Housing First. I live with the overdoses and parties with questionable characters. The summer gets worse with the homeless sleeping in the stairwells and rotunda’s. This is the bad side of housing first. You hope and pray they will find recovery but, until then you stay cautious.