Thursday, January 19, 2012

Housing, It's A Wonderful Right

This warm spell is such a relief to me, and I'm sure many more who are also homeless in the state of NM. It was in the 30's by the time I left the shed to let Rio and Gracie out..

Yesterday was such a chaotic and long day. And the high winds were vicious. Jan phoned me to tell me that the round bales were packed full of weed and cotton. I ran to Capitan, to Lincoln County Mercantile to trade out hay, then to the Lazy J.
Jan and I tried to re-wrap a 600lb round bale, and re-load it back onto the flatbed trailer only to watch the high winds dismantle it and blow it everywhere.

As a homeless woman my life is rarely as simple as people want to think it is. My blankets ~ my only source of warmth, are still covered in mud. A lot of mud.

So for days I have had no choice but to remain fully dressed through the nights. It's such a miserable lifestyle. Yesterday I was going to try and wash the blankets but that never happened. I'm going to make it happen today come hell or high water because I am so tired of being this dirty.

ONE night with clean blankets is worth taking an entire day trying to obtain them..

As the temperature soared to 60 degree's the wild horses wondered in to see what free meals were being offered, and drink the fresh water. I enjoy seeing them arrive. Horses just make you feel that everything will be alright when almost everything is wrong.
Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The U.S. government’s steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.

The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfills human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.

Please join the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative and Amnesty International in asking the U.S. to step up it's efforts to address the housing crisis, including by giving serious consideration to the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief for those at risk, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

As we think back on all that Amnesty has achieved over the last year in advancing and protecting human rights, let’s do one more thing.

Amnesty USA

With the snow gone, bar on the Sierra Blanca peak, and a few pockets of snow banks around the mud is drying at a fairly quick rate. This has been a very nice day - and so productive.

But that doesn't mean that homelessness isn't hurting me, or that I don't want to go home...

Homelessness: "The worst may be to come for many people."
While anyone who has been paying attention to the working poor and the poor knows, times are getting tougher by the minute for them. What many folks don't realize however, was succinctly pointed out by Nan Roman, Executive Director for the National Alliance to End Homelessness:
"There just aren't enough units for the number of people who need them."
Those of us who've had to try and house folks have known that the crunch for "affordable" units has been beyond severe for damned near a decade now. But something else has happened since the housing market imploded; many of the rentals that folks used to be able to snag by landlords desperate to fill vacancies are nowhere to be found anymore. Even the dives are rented as soon as a sign appears on a lawn, and landlords have become oh so selective in the clientele they rent to. Credit checks, background checks, huge deposits, ridiculous rules and restrictions, all conspire to keep out everyone but the most perfect of renters.

No telling how long that's going to last, but given that we haven't even hit the bottom of the housing market yet, I'd say we're in for a long stretch.

Something else important in this article that folks don't realize either; it does take a while for the new face of homelessness to hit the bricks. These people are fighters and they typically try every option, every possibility, before the bottom falls out. When the sheriff shows up and sets them out on the sidewalk, they are typically 3+ months behind in all their utilities, are either going through foreclosure or are being sued by landlords for nonpayment of rent, and when those things hit the credit report, they can kiss goodbye any chance at renting damned near anything besides some lowlife predator's garage or backyard shed.

If the amount owed has been turned over to collections, it's like breaking a mirror; the eviction/collection shows up for 7 years (in some cases, longer) on those reports. Along with the credit report, Tenant Screening Agencies will list you in their database, and any landlord looking to protect his/her investment will instantly roundfile an application that comes up "TSA positive."

So Joe and Sally move into Mom and Dad's, or Uncle Bob and Aunt Phyllis's house, if they're lucky. This creates immediate tension, no matter how good your family dynamic is. It ain't never good to impose on relatives and friends, and we've all heard countless tales about close family members who overstay their welcomes during the holidays. In that situation, the houseowners know their guests are temporary; you can imagine how quickly the tolerance fades when the departure date is TBD.

The good setups last about a year. After that, Bob and Phyllis approach Joe and Sally, and with eyes diverted away, tell them that they've "done all they can" and "it's expensive enough for the both of us." Joe and Sally get the message and move what few belongings they have to the car, if they're still lucky enough to have one. If not, they begin wondering who to turn to.

That's when those of us who work in homeless services get the call, and by this point, Joe and Sally are in so much trouble from so many angles that getting them squared away becomes a massive undertaking.

Unfortunately, we're broker than Joe and Sally, and those who pay us to provide services are currently moving the furniture out of the building and getting ready to turn the utilities off. We got nuthin, and because they don't suffer from mental health or substance misuse (yet, anyway, if they're lucky) they get nuthin.
See, the system has been so overstressed that in many cities, we only provide service to people who are not just considered chronically homeless, but "most likely to die on the streets within the year."
This determination is usually arrived at through a tool called the Vulnerability Index (VI), created by Dr. Jim O'Connell, a pioneer in street medicine and deeply respected by folks like me.
The VI is an incredibly important method of identifying those at serious risk on our nation's streets, and has saved a lot of lives.
Unfortunately, there can be a downside to the VI.
See, often what ends up happening is that cities are so damned poor that they don't have enough resources to go around. As such, they prioritize how those scarce resources will be used. The VI ultimately saves cities money by housing those individuals who are costing the city the most while existing on the street.
Except that if you're not considered "trimorbid" (having co-occuring mental health, substance abuse, and medical issues) after taking the assessment - if you were lucky enough (or unlucky, as the case may be) to be around when the surveyors actually performed the assessment (they continue using a VI performed in Nashville in the fall of 2008 and I remember it well because I was part of the team. I don't think they've redone the survey since then) - you're often shit outta luck and are relegated to the end of the service line.
Now, you would think that, as a city saved money by removing the sickest individuals from our streets and funneling them through a SOAR program to connect them with disability income and medical insurance, the city could use some of those savings gained to bolster sagging social services.
You would be wrong because it doesn't work that way.

So while we have a couple of spectacularly important and successful programs, to access them, you've got to be damned near knocking on death's door.
The new faces of homelessness don't look like that....yet. They are still relatively healthy and get more than a mite pissed when they're told they're "not eligible" for the paltry crap our community tries to pass off as "services." About the only exception to this is if you happen to be a veteran, and while the US military has become the nation's largest employer, for many of us, the price that might be paid for a job with them is beyond the price we're willing to pay (and I'm not willing to dig into the deeper issues around a military that provides all the jobs and the available benefits to those who serve, causing a vicious cycle of an ever-increasing military and ....nope, not going there).
Yep, I agree completely with Nan Roman that the situation facing us is "worrisome." And I gotta say, I appreciate Nan's self-control here, because frankly, I'd say the situation is "fucked" for many who are the new faces of homelessness.

There has to be someone related to Robert &Sylve Huckins must have some means to reach them, if it be Michael Huckins, Dr.Kenneth Ogilvie ( Diana Huckins? Dominic Huckins? Malcolm Huckins? ) or Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins and get them to return ALL of the money they stole from us so that I can buy a home and get our lives back. I am begging anyone in this family for help.

I don't believe I have EVER witnessed any none vio
lent crime that can be as devastating as stealing someone's home. I am walking in Dorothy McKeevers footsteps, day by day, month by month, year by year.

Liam Griffin, I sat in your law office with two witnesses as you gave me your promise, your guarantee, that our money would be returned before harm came to us.

Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins you were present the day I signed contract with your son. You walked out of the kitchen with Sylve Huckins and your son introduced me to you. He told you that I was the British horse trainer he had told you about, the one he was going to build the home and barn for. Why didn't you say something? There may be a rational and reasonable explanation but I have spent over 3 years, homeless, not understanding it. I understand it even less knowing that though I was a total stranger, both Dorothy McKeever and Sally Canning you KNEW, and you knew what your son had done to them and others.

Dr. Kenneth Ogilvie, I contacted you and simply asked f
or a reference, not knowing that Robert Huckins was your cousin. Robert Huckins had just stolen over $30,000 from the domestic violence shelter, HEAL, yet everyone was trying to hide it. There was a history of stealing large amounts of money. $65,000 PLUS from Nancy Canning. $89,000 PLUS from Dorothy McKeever, $45,000 from Francis McKinney. The list just goes on and on and on.
Because of Robert Huckins I ended up paying
$140,000 to be homeless.. sat in the cold, emotionally, physically and financially broke. In the middle of a recession, with no way to recover the stolen funds.

Today Robert Huckins has his own home...
He also has OUR home.....
He also has a lot of people's money...
And his freedom.

Women are not banks or loan institutions. Women should not be the source of a retirement fund for people who don't want to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Holding women hostage while playing with the judicial system, a horrendous game of cat and mouse extending YEARS, with the victims whose very homes, families and stability are in jeopardy is cruelty, as cruel as a physical beating. It is financial and emotional RAPE. Homelessness is not justice. It is a slow, painful death.
Please, I beg with everything I have within me, pl
ease convince Robert Huckins to stop this torture and return the building fund he stole from us so we too, can have a home.

Relevant pages:
Sanity is a madness put to good uses.~George Santayana