If you’ve nothing better to do…

9780819573407…I’m speaking about Isabella Beecher Hooker (of course) at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Litchfield Historical Society.

The event is free, there will be light refreshments, and to register, go here: http://www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org or call 860-567-4501

When We All Get to Heaven

Used to belt this out at Fourth and Forest church of Christ — minus the great piano and organ — but I love this song. What if we all make it to heaven — or a place very much like it? And then we will just have to get along, whatever our belief system?

In an acknowledgement of the church’s true purpose:

indexPope Francis has ended the benighted investigation into U.S. nuns — some of whom were known collectively as Nuns on the Bus.

This makes sense, as the nuns appear to be at the forefront of doing precisely the kind of church work favored by Pope Francis.

Funny how different news outlets have different takes on this. Check out the coverage of Catholic.org. Then check out the New York Times. And here’s the Los Angeles Times.

Good on you, Pope.

A letter from a former Rapid Re-housing skeptic

homelessYou can read the background of the email below here. And thanks, Lou, for sharing this.

Hi Kay,

I was at your CCEH (Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness) sponsored Rapid Rehousing workshop last Tuesday in New Haven CT.  I was your “skeptic” for the day. Though I came prepared to leave the day thinking it would not work for our shelter clients, I will now admit I think it makes sense. We have been having internal conversations about how we might start trying rapid re-housing to test it and get some experience with it. I shared the concept with a board subcommittee last Thursday evening.

Like many emergency shelter providers, we have been sheltering for over 30 years since the uptick in homelessness arose in public consciousness. It is hard to turn the model on its head, but the fact is we have many “institutionalized” people making shelters a way of life. We need to do better. A couple key points you made that stuck with me:

  • We are not solving economic poverty; we are trying to get the client housed; they will still be economically poor, but they won’t be homeless.
  • We don’t have to assume that, when we house people who are poor, they will be set up to fail. Most economically poor people in a housing crisis never become homeless; they use their own support networks before they ever reach the emergency shelter system.
  • In changing the paradigm from our current emergency shelter model to a rapid re-housing model, we will have to develop separate approaches for working with our clients: one for our current  long-term “institutionalized” shelter clients, and another for new clients who will understand that re-housing begins immediately, rather than being sheltered for months or years.
  • We need to stop thinking of housing only in the middle-class model (a bedroom for every person, etc.); an economically poor person can be placed in the most suitable housing environment, whether it be shared housing, micro apartments, or some other model; this approach offers the best chance of the person maintaining the housing after the subsidy ends.

This summer, our agency changed our mission statement to: “ImmaCare strives to eliminate homelessness in the Hartford region, while building a more vibrant community, by creating safe and affordable housing options and increasing the skills, income and hope of those who struggle with housing crises.”

Our new mission statement speaks of building a more vibrant community. If we can get people housed quickly, our focus on community-building may help provide that “support network” that helps keep economically poor people from slipping back into homelessness.

It’s the difference between providing a “house” versus a “home.”

It’s starting to come together in my head. Thank you for challenging me to think differently.

Louis Gilbert

The best day, like, ever

IMG_5249Today on WNPR’s “Where We Live” program, I got to report that Sal Pinna, a 52-year old man who’s been on the streets for something like 20 years, just got a housing voucher as part of Hartford’s 100-day challenge to greatly reduce chronic homelessness. [If you hit the “Where We Live” link above, Sal’s story starts at about 35 minutes, That’s Sal pictured above, after he got the news last week that he would be housed. He’s hugging the fabulous Sara Capen Salomons, one of those activists who Does. Not. Quit.] And thank you, Nate Fox, for being on the show, and also for being another one of those activists who Does. Not. Quit.

Right after the program aired, Sarah Simonelli, of Chrysalis Center, took Sal to look at apartments, and he loved the first one he saw, a one-bedroom centrally located on a bus line. The apartment is being readied now, and he could move in as early as next week. He’s promised to give me a tour.

Chrysalis Center has stipends for recently-housed people, who, like Sal, are basically moving in with whatever bags they’ve been carrying around homeless. In Sal’s case, that’s a backpack that weighs roughly 45 pounds (I know. I lifted it this morning.). No furniture, no kitchenware, no linens, nothing.

I don’t know how far the funds go, but feel free to think about any extra stuff you might have that Sal — or someone like him — could use. I’ve started what I’m calling a Sal Pile (a name that makes Sal giggle). The goal is to house 100 people housed by June 19. That’s a lot of Sals, and a lot of kitchenware, linens, etc.

So this is a happy ending, so far, though Sal has a lot of work to do. I know him. He’ll do it.

IMG_5316I met Sal and Sarah Simonelli for lunch afterward, and he was wearing his favorite Batman jacket. It’s pretty ratty. He’s been sleeping outside since March 31, when the no-freeze shelter where he was staying closed. He won’t come inside, though I told him I very much wish he would. He’s waiting to move into his full-time, real-live apartment this next week. I’m hoping his luck holds and he’s able to take care of himself outside a few more days.

To celebrate, I went to pick up the grandbabies (twins who are nearly 4) for a sleep-over. We came to my house, and we were outside in the spring sun playing with their new golf clubs (Hey! We’re Scottish. Start ’em early, I say.). I had my back turned when a plastic bag of…something…landed in my yard. My neighbor had been cleaning up the winter flotsam and for a minute I thought, “Why would he throw his crap over here?”

But it wasn’t that neighbor. It was Vinnie (honest to God; that’s his name), a kid who lives next door with whom I once had deep conversations I enjoyed very much, but then he grew up and that, as they say, was that. I’ve made efforts, but nope.

Vinnie had heard the grandbabies outside (they’re not quiet) and run inside to get some of his old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spiderman figures. These two entities — along with Bathman and Wonder Woman — pretty much form the core of my grandchildren’s lives, and they stood with their mouths open as Vinnie explained he thought they could enjoy the figures as he is now, you know, in sixth grade and stuff. With his own cell phone. And he walks from the bus stop, too. He’s matured.

2491485-turtle859That’s a direct quote.

I was so happy about this gift that I nearly hugged him, but he’s, you know, in sixth grade and stuff, so instead I thanked him profusely for his generosity and the kids are going to make him a card.

So now I’m sitting in my little bungalow with the grandbabies, who insisted on coming inside to play with their loot. I’m feeling just really awesome about the world. I mean, really.

Can we learn anything from Miami?

IMG_20150415_112416673Jac has graciously spent some time in  Miami for us, and walking around in the tropical sun she saw the parking meter at left.

She took the photo, and then found this, a Miami-Dade County poster contest on homelessness awareness and sensitivity. What a cool idea. And thank you, Jac, for serving as a temporary Florida correspondent. The pay’s the same as when you’re a New England correspondent, you know…

Just a few days after Equal Pay Day (April 14)…

1wgXtoE(That’s the day each year when a woman has worked through one year and into the next to earn the same amount as her male counterpart. Same job. Different pay. Awesome.)

So this store in Pittsburgh allows women to pay what they’ve earned — roughly 76 percent what men pay, for the same items. (Here in Connecticut, a similar shop would charge slightly more, 78 cents on the dollar. Yay, us.)

And thanks, Julia, for the link.