from as far back as i can remember my favorite chore around the house was sweeping. not sure why but sweeping always relaxed me and put me in a good mood. cleaning my room?
ha! yeah right.
not much as changed over the years. give me a broom and a ground full of dirt and i’m as happy as a pig in the mud. ok, maybe i’m overstating this a bit, but not by much.
i got to flex some of that sweeping muscle tonight at work.
we recently had to evict one of our clients at the rebuilding. my manager and all the staff worked hard with the client in order to keep him in the building but it just didn’t work out. unfortunately for the client that means (most likely) he will have to go stay at the men’s homeless shelter again.
it’s most regrettable. this building exists to give affordable housing to men who are harder to house than most, not make them homeless, but that’s exactly what happened.
one of the stipulations for living at the rebuilding is going through monthly apartment inspections. the apartments are fully furnished with a bed, couch, fridge and other furniture. a worker drops in once a month to make sure everything is still in good condition (except regular wear and tear) and that the living space is kept in a healthy way for the client.
the client we had to evict was a hoarder.
now, i’ve watched shows on tv before on hoarding but it’s a whole other thing to witness it in person.
walking through the door of the apartment a few weeks ago was a task in itself. stuff piled around the door made it hard for me to squeeze between the door and the door frame. the amount of stuff piled high along the walls, practically spilling over, made me nervous walking through the hallways. i reflexively used my hands as a makeshift hard hat in case anything fell. random items pulled from trash bins plastered on the walls and spilling out of the closets. clothes thrown everywhere and anywhere, hanging from doors, curtain rods and makeshift closets. more clothes than i’ve ever owned in my entire life.
because bed bugs have been a problem in our building (and really, the whole city), making sure our clients keep their apartments relatively clean is of paramount importance. their apartments don’t have to be spotless by any stretch, but they do have to keep them tidy.
interviews are being done down at the shelter this week to see who will be coming up and filling the vacant apartment. before that happens we have to clean it up. thankfully we were able to hire a local company to come and take most of the stuff out (i’m told 3 full pick up truck with trailer on the back loads!). that leaves the cleaning for us.
so with a broom and a dust pan in hand i attacked the apartment with some serious zeal.
it didn’t take long for it to hit me. the man who used to live where i was now sweeping had no home anymore. tonight when i leave work and walk home, i have an apartment to go to.
he doesn’t. not anymore.
one of the hardest things i’ve found about working with guys on the street is keeping them housed. whether it’s mental illness, conflict with landlords/neighbors, unwisely spending rent money on something else (like addictions), etc, there’s always a few problems that arise that make it hard to keep my friends adequately housed.
after all these years of working on the streets with people dealing with homelessness, i’m no closer to a solution than i was when i first started.
i’m frustrated and sad, puzzled and mad, wishing there were easier answers.
but i suppose life is not like that.
no easy answers here.