Friday, January 26, 2018
Doggone it. I just listened to this song that came up randomly in my play list.
Early this morning I volunteered to count the homeless for the State wide annual count. From 2-6 AM. I figured, hey, my work hours suck most of the time anyway.
I was in a team of three, a guy from Vashon Island, Gregory, our guide who is a homeless man with intimate info about the area we are canvassing and me. We had flashlights, hot tea, gloves and hats and raincoats. We were given maps of the unincorporated city which we deciphered with the help of the dome light in the car.
Gregory talked almost non-stop. His knowledge was vast and complicated. We learned that there are camps deep in the woods that line the freeway where local cops can't or won't go to because they are so remote. Two men died of exposure with the cold snap in December. Pretty young girls get hooked on meth and they lose their looks. Renton, the city where we were, has three meals a day for 'unhoused' folk. There are places to shower and relax if you're a family with kids. Otherwise, the shelters kick you out after 6AM so you have to find warm and dry places to hang out until the shelters reopen.
Gregory lost his housing after losing his 30 year job because of an illness. Sometimes he stays with his mom ( but her apartment is too warm at 70 degrees), sometimes he has an apartment. He was going for a job interview the coming week that he was excited about. He explained that there were folk who preferred to live outside-no rent, no landlord. One encampment even has a generator, heat and light. He seemed quite impressed with this situation. When my Vashon Island partner asked him about his wishes for the future, Gregory said, "Oh, I want an apartment of my own!"
Seattle is cold and dark and wet, for many days a year. Be well and safe, all my brothers and sisters.