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What it was like at the Haven of Rest homeless shelter
and on the streets in Akron & Wooster, Ohio:
If you are an “average” American, this could happen to you too:
you are just one major unexpected expense away from
the sort of experience I have related. Could you affluent folks
for God’s sake find some Christian compassion in your heart
and help the poor, please, in the name of the Lord?
November 4, 2016
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Homeless: My Life on the Streets
in Akron and Wooster, Ohio
Homelessness among the poor and disabled:
an anecdote from life at the Haven of Rest in Akron, Ohio
The Daily Walk with Miracles, November 4, 2016, by Paul Evans. I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever given me any financial assistance, especially my friend, Bert Bishop and my friend and pastor, Kevan Franklin.
Homelessness in the News
and in Northeast Ohio
These are some of my experiences living in the Haven of Rest homeless shelter in Akron, Ohio. I simply want to relate one anecdote, and will mainly leave the rest of the experience to your imagination, and to your kind viewing of the video of Tent City, a spontaneously occurring encampment of the “homeless” living in tents near a bypass in Wooster, Ohio, where I lived twice for short periods. But really, it could happen to anyone. In America, and make an “average” wage, you are one big unexpected expense away from homelessness. Did you know that 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck without any significant monetary reserve in the event of an emergency? What happens to you if, say, your car needs a big repair and you have no cash reserve? If you lose your car, you lose your job, and that’s usually it, you become homeless. Sometimes the churches intercede, but not that often, not at that level of help, especially for an individual, though aid to families, especially families with children, is much more forthcoming. In American society it is HARD to get real help of funding if you are, say, mentally ill, or a drinker. Sometimes even if you are a smoker certain churches will not help at all, or if you are just one of those unfortunates who “fall through the cracks” or give up on their job hunting, in which case you are NOT counted in the unemployment statistics, either.
This is How Much Hillary Clinton Cares: See Clinton Global Initiative Causes 1 Million Nigerian Homeless, The Daily Walk with Miracles, October 12, 2016, by Paul Evans: “The Clinton Global Initiative is highly invested in EKO Atlantic City, which so far has caused 1 million Nigerians to become homeless. Nice one Bill and Hillary…. but then they’re only mud people, right?”
See Number Of Homeless People In New York City Reaches All-Time High, CBS News New York, November 2, 2016, by CBSNewYork: “The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.”
Disability in America
What the Disability System has devolved into: It is just a fact that it is very, very hard to keep an apartment, or even a room in a home, on the minimum disability (about $750 a month). For the mentally ill they usually try to stick you in a group home, but for those of us with “live free or die” attitudes, this is not really an option except in a question of life or death. Even if you are holding down even a full-time, minimum wage job, it is damned hard to rent an apartment in Wooster, Ohio, and live on that much money. In Wooster, all apartments are “sewed up” by the realtors and they will not even consider renting to you unless you make a given, set amount, say $1,000 or $1,200 a month. So it would be impossible for me alone to rent an apartment in Wooster, where I have mostly lived since 1971. Most American families have to go to the length of having both partners or parents work as close to full time as they can, with at least one doing better than a minimum wage job, before a decent life becomes feasible. At the current minimum wage level in Ohio this is just barely possible, IF you can get jobs you can stand and worm your way into the boss’s good graces enough to be allowed to actually get full time hours. Many if not most service sector jobs are NOT full time to start. If you are strongly motivated and of good morality, maybe if you are a good budgeter or a magician, you might barely pull off renting a room or maybe get lucky and somebody has mercy and lets you have a one-bedroom apartment, but it didn’t happen that way for me.
I received a full disability for mental illness in 1986, and even though I am usually pretty sane, and an excellent thinker and writer, in fact, I am psychic and also I am somewhat unstable, so I have kept my disability, even though it was very small, seeing really no other choice. In Europe, generally, a full disability pays you enough so that you can live decently, but not really in America, not usually. One thing I have always been extremely grateful for and appreciated very much as a patriotic American is how well I have been taken care of by the system medically. Medicare and Medicaid plans are all basically automatically privatized these days, unless you open all your mail and tell them not to, and I feel this is kind of sneaky and immoral, too. Actually my own plan, CareSource My Care Ohio has taken very good care of me, I have no complaints at all about them, and thank them very much. God Bless you guys!
Yet if maybe you even have some drug habit, or drink much, you cannot really live on basic disability at all, it’s just not feasible. Very likely you will know homelessness at least once, and perhaps multiple times such as I have. (I am a tee-totaller when it comes to alcohol, but it was not always this way, and moreover I once made the mistake of loving and trying to take care of an addict to hard drugs (not me), who used up and stole all I had. After that it has all been downhill, financially.) Back when I got my disability, in 1986, it was not so hard to qualify for a disability, but today the standards are extremely strict and also, the entitlement programs and the lawyers have made a racket out of it. Partly it depends big-time on your who you hire as a lawyer and which judge you get assigned to hear your case. When applying for disability you get that through a disability lawyer, these days. You used to be able to get disability on your own but I would no longer advise you to try that. If you finally do get a disability, the lawyer gets his cut as payment. Almost inevitably you will end up applying THREE times before you get the disability. Don’t expect to get the disability right away (and just how will you live, meanwhile)? You will be denied the first two times, and IF your lawyer is any good and the judge is in a good mood, maybe you might “get lucky” on the third try. That is what the system has devolved into in the 21st century. It really stinks.
Watch American Story: Tent City USA. Find out about the Tent City in Wooster, Ohio, my home town, and what happened to it, here. Please visit the website of the Haven of Rest Ministries of Akron, Ohio. Did you know that $1.92 buys a homeless man or woman a meal. Please consider donating to the Haven. Even $10 or $20 helps.
An Anecdote from my Time at the Haven of Rest
Ministries Homeless Shelter in Akron, Ohio
I could really write a book on my experiences at Tent City in Wooster, Ohio (twice), at the Salvation Army in Wooster (twice) and once at the Haven of Rest Ministries homeless shelter in Akron, Ohio, but I will allow one anecdote to suffice, with this minor introduction. When the last member of my nuclear family, my father, who was a WWII marine officer, NSA, CIA and a Yale Ph.D., passed away, I was wet behind the ears and knew very little about street life or just how “down and dirty” it is. You have no idea, you middle class businessmen, what can happen, how you have to live then, and how degrading and emotionally disturbing it is to have to live that way. I have 11 years of college, have edited 12 books, and had the cover of History magazine, but it sure happened to me. What’s the name of that old song, “nobody loves you when you’re down and out.” You have no idea how true that is. I do. Also, one much more recent rock song had the lyrics, “once you’re down that’s where you’ll stay,” and I have found that this is pretty much true today in America, too. The elite put out the story, drummed into your consciousness by preachers who are themselves pretty well off, that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Well maybe it happens, but I don’t know anyone it happened to personally, America used to lead the word in upward socioeconomic mobility, but now we are around 20th, and the streets are VERY down and dirty. It seems to me we have become almost a “third world country.” What I DON’T understand is how a rich or even moderately well off person can drive through the decaying heart of an American inner city and see all that suffering, and not have compassion, not want to help as much as he or she can. And you people call yourselves Christian?
Well at the beginning of 2015, my fiancee somehow got the idea I was evil and threw me out. I wasn’t on the rental deed, it was in her name, so she could do that, by law. It was in February at 8 p.m., and I was flat broke because I had been trying to help her heroin-addicted son. She had so spread filthy lies about me around her big apartment block that nobody at all would help me, and I walked out into the worst blizzard in some years into the night, amazed and frankly, cursing at her. By the Grace of God, after standing outside at eight degrees in a blizzard for an hour, a bus came by and the driver was Christian and kind enough to give me a free ride to the Akron homeless shelter, The Haven of Rest. It was overcrowded and I had to sleep on a mat on a cement floor, but at least it was inside. Eventually my good friend and benefactor (as well as my teacher in matters of Christian faith) Paul Yuhanick came and took me to his home in Wooster, after maybe three weeks, but meanwhile I had a bit of a difficult time of it. You rich folk simply have no idea. I just want to tell you one little anecdote, and to beg you go please donate to the Haven of Rest to help those who are really down on their luck and need your kind help, and so the Haven can keep serving the greater Akron area. I love you guys!
One Sunday, after I had been at the Haven a while and oriented myself a little, I decided I would go to an outside church, rather than to the Haven’s own service, which by the way are wonderful. I walked a couple of blocks to this fantastically beautiful Episcopal church, and I was in time, so I went in and participated in the service. The art and the organ in this place were unbelievable. After the service I went down to the basement and enjoyed coffee and donuts and talked with some of those guys, who basically seemed to be pretty powerful and rich people, but were in fact friendly. And I managed to get invited to the Men’s luncheon the next day, which was an extremely happy thing. I fully admit I was hoping one of them, since they seemed quite well off, might get me a job, or help me with some financial assistance. So, next day I come to the men’s luncheon, it was great, but they were a little bit of a closed community, and I found it very hard to gain much acceptance among them. After all I had told them I was homeless, and I have found that most well-off people find us almost distasteful, if the truth be known. But I stuck it out and chatted, I know a lot about a lot actually, having all this college and written online news and politics for eight years, and I guess they found me… well maybe amusing is the word if I am truthful. After lunch and a prolonged social bantering with a few of them, I asked about the last rich-looking guy still there if maybe I might be given charity of a few dollars, having at that point downsized my hopes a lot. Well we talked more, and distastefully and very reluctantly, he pulls out his wallet and — hands me exactly $1.00 (one dollar). I tell you, I was almost in disbelief, but I remained polite and started my trudge through the snow back to the Haven. On the way back this black dude I recognized from the Haven comes up to me and asks me, can I spare 75 cents. I asked him if he had a quarter, he hands it over, and I give him the dollar I worked so hard at getting. An hour later he comes back outside the Haven with a beer in a bag, that’s what he used the money for. And that’s typical. I for my part was able to purchase one cigarette. Around homeless shelters, brand name cigarettes go for 50 cents each, or a quarter if they are roll your own. End of anecdote, but THAT is how it is on the streets.
If you are an “average” American, this could happen to you too! You are just one major unexpected expense away from the sort of experience I have just related. You rich folks, do you capish what it’s like? Could you for God’s sake find some Christian compassion in your heart and help the poor, please, in the name of the Lord? Don’t let this go on in America! And don’t let money be your morality. Do you worship Jesus and God, or money and capitalism?? We are like a third world country now, this CANNOT continue!!!
Wooster, Ohio “Tent City”
The Faces of the Evicted
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