I’m Hiring

Hey everyone! We’re hiring two case managers in the homeless shelter that I manage.

If you, or someone you know, is ready for the most challenging, frustrating, inspiring, mind-bending, and rewarding work experience of your life – here’s your chance! We do the work, on a daily basis, that helps people end their homelessness for good. I’m excited because now that we can expand our team, we can do that work faster than ever before.

Here’s the link to the posting on Indeed. Feel free to ask me any questions that you have, share, and comment!

Too Much at Once

A quarter of my town burned down. One of my participants at work passed away. I worry about people at work, and work in general has been really hard for me recently. Coronavirus is still going on and drastically affecting my family’s quality of life. Politics in this country are as alarming as ever…

There has been too much going on for me recently, too much to write about. I’ve sat down quite a few times to write, and it never felt right.

Right now, I don’t know how to write about my experiences at work without violating my participant’s privacy. Nor how to do it while capturing the wide vacillations of views I take on any given circumstance. Working with people who are homeless is great for forcing you into moral quandaries that you aren’t ready for. I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently, but I nonetheless feel wounded from the experience.

Burning Man didn’t happen, either.

Damn.

Anyway, for those of you who regularly read this blog, I wanted to let you all know where I’m at. I’m good, but there’s been a lot. Too much. Love to you all

How I Made Facebook More Tolerable

Since I haven’t deleted my account yet…

Let’s be honest, Facebook sucks. Those of us who are on there, are there because it meets some sort of utility for us. But the blatant – uncritical – sharing of propaganda by friends and family, the clickbait, the ads, the profiting from hosting disinformation and hate, the extreme disincentives to having constructive discussion on the platform… not to mention the stupid algorithm. THE ALGORITHM! It’s just all so much.

But the ability to connect with folks I care about on their platform is still unrivaled amongst social networks, and that’s why I haven’t deleted my account already.

So, what I did do, is unfollowed everyone who posts something once a day. Specifically, posting something that they didn’t create, on a once a day average. It has totally changed my experience of my facebook feed. I’m no longer bombarded by… crap. I unfollowed people whose politics I agree with, and whose politics I disagree with.

There are still political posts, there are still memes – but it’s thoughtful stuff now. I see the people’s posts that have some thought in them, and where they share about their lives. Because the facebook algorithm prioritizes what you interact with, and I will talk politics with anyone, all I was seeing before I made this change was rage and division inducing headlines. I didn’t unfriend anyone, I just removed some folks from my feed.

If you’re out there posting a bunch of stuff you wrote, photos you took, etc… I still see all that! I’m here for that stuff.

The Second Wave of Coronavirus is Already Here

I’m very frustrated looking at the data on what is going on with COVID-19 in the US. I’m frustrated because this virus spreads when people are circulating together, and we’re opening up and having more people circulate together. My home county of Santa Cruz hasn’t even finished opening up, and it is already experiencing it’s second wave.

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The source of that graph is here. I know Santa Cruz has relatively low numbers, it is the smallest county in California – however this info is unmistakable at this point.

The data for California (found here) is even more amazing – in the sense that there does not appear to even be a peak in cases yet. It is absolutely not the time to be easing shelter at home restrictions if we want to beat this virus. The headline I wrote for this blog is accurate for Santa Cruz County, statewide¬†the first wave isn’t even over yet.

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Nationally, the next week or so will tell us a lot. Will the recent rise in total new cases continue, or will the slightly falling overall trend keep up? With the amount of people protesting and generally circulating again, I’m guessing it will go up. But the next week, and possibly the week after that, will tell us if that guess is correct. Here is the data from the CDC:

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Looking at national numbers isn’t terribly useful for fighting this disease, at least not in a country as large and diverse in population density as ours. But national numbers do tell us an overall trend. What’s alarming is that we’re nowhere near staunching the tide of new people getting this disease, yet we’re opening up as if we are. I’m planning accordingly, I hope you all are as well.

Running a Shelter during Coronavirus

Made an appearance on community television talking about running a shelter during coronavirus

I made an appearance on community access television talking about running a homeless shelter during the coronavirus. Check it out here.

The website for our shelter is here at Housing Matters.

We mention the Free Guide as well.

Coronavirus: Day 54

the hatches are battened

So much has gone on in the last ~40 days. I’ll make a list:

-My brother in law passed away unexpectedly. He was 36 years old, married, with a four year old son. It’s still not clear why he died. He did test negative for COVID-19. Nonetheless, his death has been shocking, tragic, and painful for all of us. You can read what his widow wrote here (on Linkedin) and my wife wrote here (on facebook). The gofundme for his family is here.

-The homeless shelter I manage has been able to increase capacity while maintaining social distancing. We have increased staff. It’s now also looking like we will be able to increase the rate at which we are helping people to get housed. One of the reasons that we’ve been able to increase capacity is because of these. The organization I work for is Housing Matters, and I manage the program that those pallet shelters are in. I’m really proud of how we have responded to this crisis.

-Santa Cruz County has, as far as I can tell, done really well in it’s response to this pandemic. We’ve shut down beach access to folks from out of town. The county has opened more shelter and managed camping, including just across the street from our shelter. Our peak of cases was relatively low, and we already seem to be on the tail end. As long as we don’t open up again too soon…

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Here’s the source for that image.

-Speaking of opening up again too soon, it’s really frustrating seeing people in the right-wing media bubble saying that we need to open everything up again to keep the economy from getting bad. There is no way that I’ve seen to open up again without infecting thousands of people with this disease, and thousands of people dying. An effective president wouldn’t have closed down the CDC office specifically responsible for containing outbreaks in their country of origin. An effective president would have moved quickly and decisively when this virus appeared in our country. An effective part of the shutdown would have included a total pause on all rent, loans and mortgages. It would have made sure people had access to food and medical care, as needed. All of these steps would have mitigated the impacts on our greater economy significantly. It seems to me that Trump supporters don’t know how an effective president would behave, and so they champion his unending string of failures, claiming they are successes. Of course, if you are reading this, I know you are going to have one of two reactions. Either you are outside of the right-wing media bubble and you’ll essentially say “no, duh.” Or you’re inside the right-wing media bubble and you’ll essentially say “I’m so sad to hear that you’ve been manipulated by the mainstream media.” Such is the state of our world today.

-Shopping for supplies is completely different now. The aisles in the grocery stores are one-way only, and everyone is supposed to stay at least two shopping cart lengths apart. A staff person is wiping down every shopping cart after they are used. Early on, a lot of store shelves were nearly bare. Now most stuff is at the store. But toilet paper is sold by the roll (it used to be sold 8-12 to a pack), and for a while at least there was a limit on how many rolls you could buy at once. Clorox wipes, which used to be a staple of our house, are now essentially impossible to find. I’m now doing all of the shopping for the family, because there is a limit to how many people in a party can go in a store at once. Below are my shopping lists, you can see as time goes on more things were available in stores.

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-Geez, I nearly forgot! We had a wedding in our front yard during the stay-at-home. Short story shorter, this couple had to be married by a certain date but their courthouse wedding was cancelled due to coronavirus. So, they got married in our front yard. It was them, our family, and the photographer. We all maintained social distancing, and all of their family and friends watched online with zoom. I officiated. I’ve anonymized what I wrote for the occasion, but I’d like to share the text of the wedding with you all here:

Life has a way of taking us down unexpected twists and turns. And often, it’s those unexpected paths that take us exactly where we need to be.

Today, on an unexpected day, in an unexpected front yard, with an unexpected ceremony, We are here today to celebrate two people, who met by chance, not by design. Who found each other while swimming upon the wild seas of fate, and took a leap together. And, I presume, have kept taking leaps of faith together – and found themselves, after each leap, where they’ve always wanted to be.

Times, I understand, are always uncertain, however these times feel more uncertain than most. But uncertain times have a way of crystallizing our priorities. Today’s priorities are clear; love, commitment, family, each other.

I am honored, we all our honored, to be able to be here with you to celebrate your love and commitment to each other.

-My wife is still working from home, while overseeing our kindergartner’s schooling, while wrangling a two year old, while managing two dogs and a cat. Often when I get home she is exhausted from having to juggle too much in a day. Often when I get home, I’m exhausted from the highs and lows of managing a shelter and getting people who are homeless into housing. Though we have hit our stride, and made this our new normal, it is a fragile normal. It’s a high-stress normal.

-Nothing illustrated the fragility of our new normal than when the internet went out at our house. My wife, our kindergartner, and our friend who rents our back house all rely on being able to use the internet everyday during the stay-at-home to get work done. My wife and our renter do provide essential services, that thankfully are able to be done remotely. To suddenly be without internet doesn’t just impact them, but it imperils the commitments that they have made to the people in the vulnerable populations that they work with. I had to take the day off of work and spend 8 hours attempting to communicate with Comcast to get the internet working again. It turned out that Comcast wasn’t at fault for our internet going down, but it also wasn’t able to help us figure out what wasn’t working. Because the three of us weren’t able to work that day, three essential workers weren’t able to provide their services because of one bad internet connection. This pandemic amplifies everything else that isn’t working in our lives.

-Every day I work with folks who are carrying a lot of scars from life. Something that has struck me, in hearing stories from friends and family since this pandemic has started, is that the scars that people are getting these days are going to last a lifetime. I have a rule, not to tell anyone’s story on this blog but my own, but what people have gone through so far is going to stick with them forever. And…

-All of this may just be getting started. I’m wrapping this blog post up on May 9th, 2020. I fully expect that there will be another wave of coronavirus cases as many states in the US open up in the next few weeks. I expect the federal response to continue to be wholly inadequate – which means that not only will we be too slow to shut down again, but the second shutdown will also be mismanaged. Which will lead to a recession or a depression. We’re already hearing about meat becoming much more expensive soon, because so many meat processing plants have had to shut down because their workers are getting sick. The headline on the paper as I walked into the store today was that unemployment was at 14.7%. What else will we all lose before the federal government does the right thing?

-I miss hugging. I miss shaking people’s hands. I miss being able to relax. I miss being with my friends. I miss having lunch with people, in restaurants. I miss going to dinner. I miss walking through downtown. I miss seeing family. On a national level, I miss what life was like before 2016. I miss being able to focus enough to feel like I’m writing well.

I tell you what, though. There’s going to be a lot of fun to uncork when all this is over.

 

Conversation to End Homelessness Update

The Conversation to End Homelessness in Santa Cruz is currently on hold due to the county-wide shelter at home. However, after all the participation in the previous sessions, I expect that we will have an outline at our next session of a plan to end homelessness here. Keep your eye on this space for updates, once the shelter at home is lifted.

I’m Thankful For All Of You

Growing up, I had a lot of ideas about what my life would look like as an adult. Thankfully, few of them came true. One thing that I did not imagine, that I was really incapable of imagining, was the depth and richness I would feel every day from my friends and my community.

I did not imagine that I would have friends who shared their victories and their losses, their strengths and their foibles, their tragedies and their triumphs. I did not imagine that I would have friends that I could share all of those things with. I didn’t imagine that I would experience tragedies at all… but tragedy is a part of life, isn’t it?

I did not understand being there for the people I cared about, and allowing them to be there for me. Nor did I understand, as I do now, that I would find those two things to be the best parts of life. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, to be upset, to fail… and then to reach out for help. And to be there for the people I care about to reach out to me. To be there for friends as they figure out and get through the hardest parts of life, and to let people in as I figure out and get through the hardest parts of my life… this I truly treasure.

I treasure doing this with you. I treasure seeing you grow and change, and adapt to the challenges the confront you. I treasure your wins. I treasure sharing in your struggles, and seeing you overcome them. I treasure sharing our lives together – even if most of that sharing, in our modern world, is done online or over the phone.

For all I have faced in life, it has been sharing my struggle that has gotten me through it. It has been doing this thing called life, with all of you, that has made me experience a richness far beyond I have ever imagined. A richness that money can’t buy.

So thank you. I love you. I love you all. I look forward to tomorrow, tomorrow’s tomorrow, and beyond… knowing that we are doing this thing called life together. I’m eager to ride this ride with you.