Saturday, December 09, 2017

Homeless in Hagerstown

It's Saturday, and the 5th week since I first met Lisa.  One week until my solo parent trip to Texas so husband gives me the day to get everything done that is urgent.  My list for the day is long but I decide to check on Lisa first so I can let her know I'll be gone for a few weeks.  She's at her now usual spot, under the bridge near Roy Rodgers but she's talking to another person in a vehicle.  That's odd, maybe it's just someone trying to give her food so I wait and after several minutes decide to walk up and see if everything is okay.  Turns out this lady wanted to pay for Lisa to have a hotel for 2 nights.  The weather was getting worse so it was a very generous thing to do.  I offered to help Lisa get to the Dagmar Hotel which was only a half mile away. 

Lisa was overwhelmed and very nervous.  She knew the lady who was trying to help her about as well as she knew me.  She was worried she wouldn't be able to take her cart inside, worried about steps, etc but we convinced her to try.

I helped her carry her stuff and she pushed that massive cart that seemed bigger and heavier over every street crack.  There were times when we had to stop and evaluate the terrain and cross a street if the sidewalk was too messed up.  It took almost 35 minutes to walk what might have taken 15 minutes without all this baggage.  Our mutual friend was waiting, and there was a ramp!  The hotel had a massive elevator and no one said anything about her bringing in a giant cart.  We got her loaded up into the elevator and said goodbye. 

I'm glad she was able to get some help and meeting another women who had been trying to help was wonderful.  We exchanged emails and phone numbers and have been in contact.

Lisa stayed in the hotel for four nights and I called her twice to see how she was doing.  She got some laundry done and tried to downsize her stuff as much as possible.  I again offered our shed hoping that she knew me better and might trust my offer but by the time she checked out, she was still to afraid to trust her stuff to be anywhere but where she could reach it.  She said she'd been burned too many times. 

I called Reach to ask why she'd been banned.  They told me that they offer appointments on Thursday's to find out what action steps one can take to get off the banned list.  Lisa said she'd already done that, didn't seem open to doing it again.

I feel like we're running out of options. 

One of Lisa's biggest concerns is getting arrested and then all her stuff will be thrown into a dumpster.  She says a member of Hagerstown City Council saw her under the bridge and complained to the police so she was threatened with arrest if she didn't find somewhere else to be.

In my call with Reach, they said one of the problems with homeless is how much stuff they accumulate.  They can't allow them into the facility with a shopping cart.  She said people keep giving them stuff.  I haven't tried to add anything to her bulk, only food and small hygiene items. 

I've tried to convince her to downsize, or use my shed for the bulk of her items, if she could get down to a backpack she could spend the day at the library for example but she doesn't want to be separated from everything she has left. 

I know we're going in circles and I probably haven't been much help so I've resolved that I can at best be a friend and offer support.  She may not take my advice today, or any time soon but maybe one day a door will open and I can help her through it. 

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