by Travis Mateer
From the link (emphasis mine):
Sanderson said one of the challenges of transitioning from living on the street to being housed is the temptation for houseless friends to live there as well.
“It’s got to be very difficult living on the street all these years, you get an apartment, and then your friend says, ‘Can I come stay with you? I need a place to stay’, and you have to say ‘no’, and quite frankly, we’re the reason that they get to say no. We’re not putting the pressure on these folks to say you can’t stay with me. It’s the rules by which the property is run, and it is also a best practice. It’s not to say that the principal’s friends will be able to come and visit. It’s just in a controlled manner.”
When I hear the phrase BEST PRACTICE my body tenses up in preparation for whatever coming next being a load of bullshit. Why? Because, imho, this phrase is intended to stop both the public, and the service providers laboring inside the hostage situation known as the non-profit sector, from doing this thing called THINKING.
Guess what? Some people don’t like following “the rules”, and I suspect there is a disproportionate amount of people with this mentality living as “urban campers” across the valley (and country).
Back in 2017, the Missoulian helped Steve and Tina tell their tearful story about not wanting to follow rules at the Poverello Center, so they chose to camp illegally, then ignored all the warnings that a clean-up was going to happen.
Before getting to the quote, here is the image that scared away the Clark Fork Coalition from the collaborative relationship I had established during my time coordinating the Homeless Outreach Team:
From the link (emphasis mine):
A homeless couple who gave their names as Steve and Tina, and declined to give their last names, were distraught as they sat in the shade a short distance away with two shopping carts full of their belongings. They were in their 40s, and said their house recently had been foreclosed upon. They agreed that they had been given a lot of advance notice of the cleanup, but they were still to the point of tears because their truck recently had been stolen and they didn’t know where to go.
Steve said they don’t like staying at the Poverello Center because there’s nothing to do, they aren’t allowed to have physical displays of affection and they don’t always get along with the other residents. He also said he understands why the city needs to keep people from living in the Reserve Street Bridge area and why the trash needs to get cleaned up.
This bullshit piece of “reporting” did an incredible amount of damage, and it still pisses me off thinking about how my work was undermined by this irresponsible piece of heartstring-tugging crap.
Since we’re talking about “the rules” that exist when you do something like sign a lease, let me give a little personal example of how us non-houseless (yet) people can get ourselves into trouble if there is even the PERCEPTION that we aren’t following the rules outlined by a legal agreement, like a COMMERCIAL lease.
I have an art studio and the owner of the building (who I found out later is married to the woman who provided counseling services for my doomed marriage) was worried that I might be LIVING at my studio instead of just WORKING at my studio. Isn’t that fucking terrible?
He also interpreted some sounds he heard coming from my studio in a manner that compelled him to communicate with me, through the property manager, that only PROFESSIONAL sounds should be coming from commercial spaces during business hours.
I had to explain that my VIGOROUS WORKOUTS with weights, and my LATE NIGHTS in the studio, were the result of a personal life transition. I further explained that the PROFESSIONAL sound of doors banging LOUDLY all day long keeps someone who uses recording equipment from being able to do his podcasting and ukulele song recording during regular business hours.
Rules can be funny, though.
For example, if you have POWER in a relationship, like my landlord does, you can apparently not give a shit that for several months I didn’t have a key to lock my studio door. I could lock the main external door that SEVERAL people have keys to, but not my studio door. When I finally complained enough to be heard, I got my key and a financial break on the next month’s rent. Isn’t that nice?
Rules exist, and sometimes they’re going to be enforced, like if you don’t pay your property taxes, someone from the Sheriff’s Office will show up and tell you to leave.
But sometimes rules are NOT enforced, like if you don’t have any money for the system to squeeze from you, then there’s a chance the system will decide to NOT enforce a rule, especially if it means doing so would result in having to pay the cost of feeding you in jail.
If you would like to help cover my cost of living as I pursue elusive answers to persistent questions about who might consider themselves ABOVE those pesky rules us normies have to follow, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to that, and the donation button at my about page is another.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the Week in Review on Sunday!