It is now the time to start off the summer shelter in Bloomington, Indiana.  Last year they wanted to have a shelter with a low barrier on Drinking and drugging.  What they seem to have got themselves was a 5 month long circus.  All of the people that wanted to do something for themselves learned pretty quick that there would be no help there for themselves.  They had a place to lay their head, but some just decided that they would just stay away as much as they could, including myself. 

Over time you learn things about people that sometimes you don’t really want to know.  In running a shelter or anything else for that matter, requires money.   I had made an offer to raise some money for the shelter, and that I would have to hire some people to do that.  Well, who would I hire?  The homeless people of course. 

That was met with thrashing and gnashing of teeth.  For some reason they seem to think that no one of us is to be paid for anything that we do.   They toyed with an idea of $5.00 per hour, but seem to have rejected that.  To put things simply; if I brought you $1500 today, would you complain that it cost $600 to do that?  That $600 has just paid for all the expenses of raising the money, and provided 4 or 5 people a living wage for that day.  The answer seemed to be, well, if it is going to cost that much, we won’t do it.


The Bloomington, Indiana winter shelter is starting to gear up for 2010-11 year.  They are taking opinions mostly about the summer shelters use of a metal detector during the check in proccess.  Last years winter shelter looked in people’s bags for alcohol and no one really felt that it was intrusive.  The problem with the metal detector is that it never finds anything that someone doesn’t want found.  There were a lot of times I had just forgot to take my pocket knife out of my pocket, and there I would be, holding the contraband.

The shelter last year ran very smoothly, and only had a few problems with the drunks that no matter what, they are beligerant to the end.  I am writing this to help the organizers, and volunteers in knowing what to expect this year. 

Right off the bat, you do not have enough room.  The actual homeless have doubled over the last year.  There will be a lot of controversy about turning away homeless people in the dead of winter.  The number of drunks have at least quadrupled, and you still will have to deal with the low barrier issue, and still have another issue about drunks acting like they are at a circus. 

The reason this will be an issue is because the summer shelter also ran a low barrier shelter, but was pretty much anything goes.  There were two seperate areas that were being used, and after everyone had eaten and smoked their last cig for the day, they went to bed.  But, the party continued in the other tent, and quite often got rowdy.  In their drunken state, they will try to justify themselves with the fact that they could do anything they wanted to at the summer shelter.  This will be your biggest hurdle.

At least three homeless individuals were asked to leave the Trinity Church this Sunday morning, and told to come back when the meal for the homeless was served.  Now the homeless have no where to go on Sundays except for the library. 

The Pastor at one time said that the doors would be open until 5:30 pm so the homeless had somewhere to go during the cold/hot weather.  This is a serious blow to the actual homeless in the city of Bloomington, Indiana.

When the new Genesis Shelter opened in Bloomington, Indiana, it was with good intentions when they made it a low barrier shelter.  They just don’t understand that low barrier does not mean no barrier.  While people feel that is not a big deal that some people need a few drinks or what ever to help them fall asleep.  When they come stumbling in too drunk to stand on their own two feet,  it creates problems for every one.

The volunteers that are staffing the shelter, come there in hopes of making a difference in that they may be able to help someone.  When a drunk that has relied on sympathy to get what ever he wants comes in, He takes up almost all of the time the volunteers have to offer.  Most of the others have lived without for so long that they pretty much no better than to ask for anything, or accept offers that never materialize.

Now the drunks have brought their girlfreinds over, and are running off the homeless.  Their girlfreinds have homes to go to, but can’t bring their boyfreinds over.  The displaced homeless are now moving back to the woods, where they don’t have to put up with the craziness that is there now. 

The person that runs the shelter has gone on a two week vacation, and won’t even know what is happening until he gets back.  There is really only two things that can be done, and that is either close the shelter now, or completely seperate the men from the woman.  That means as soon as they get off the bus, the men and woman should have no contact with each other until they leave again in the morning.

Common sense isn’t here either.

Mr. Grubb is a long-standing member of the Bloomington community, 70 years old and senile.  At least that is what the doctors and the state say about him.  Unable to clean for himself, he lives in a squalor on Vernal Pike road.  He receives a little over $800 a month, but his payee brings him one evening meal and two packs of cheap cigarettes per day.  If this money is for his maintenence, someone is doing a very poor job.

Any one that would like to view Mr. Grubb on video, just type in “The Grubb Files” at the top and go to the green arrow.  

Mr. Grubb is kind of unusual because he was a very productive member of the community for a very long time.  He does own twelve acres of land in Monroe county, and did have a stone and landscape business.  He has expressed interest in starting a shelter with the property he has, but is really too old and forgetful to run such a place.  The old equipment is still sitting where it was parked and waiting for ressurection.  

Now if these people that are looking for permanent shelter space, this would be the man to talk to.  The real problem comes when Mr. Grubb speaks to them as an old working man, but that comes across to them as foreign and vulgar.

A local construction contractor was refused to be allowed to bid on the contract to remodel the new Shalom Community Center.  The contractor was willing to employ homeless individuals, and reduce the need for services.  While the services have been drastically reduced for the homeless themselves, The jobs would have been a true blessing.

The renovation of the new Shalom Community Center has been awarded to a contractor that only hires Guest workers, and quite a few feel that most are here illegally.  The homeless feel that if these contractors hired an integrated work force, they would not care about their legal status.

The Shalom Community Center has asked homeless individuals to volunteer their time to put in insulation, that for some reason the guest workers do not want to do.  There would be no pay involved.  The ones that volunteered yesterday did not want to return today, because they were treated pretty shabby at the work site.

Here in Bloomington, last night, was the night to high pressure wash the front sidewalk to the library. Since my thing is trying to develope jobs for the homeless population, I thought that maybe if the homeless could show that there are working people who need jobs among us, and that yes, we are willing to work.

I asked the Pastor of the new shelter if I could use his equipment to do high pressure washing in front of the library. I pretty much detailed out the plan I had, to do it through Saturday night and Sunday morning. The library has a small playground area which would be done first, and by the time that was finished, The foot traffic would have been slowed down enough to not have to stop every few minutes to let people by. He was obliging enough to ask if I needed any material to work with.

Well, I did need a small can of turpentine and a 1/2 inch paint brush. he brought me two 2 inch brushes and two gallons of paint thinner. The real problem came after working for two hours, and then they tell me I should finnish up in two more hours. I actually thought that he may be saying Ok to the plan since he delivered the equipment and material that was needed.

If you were to walk around the playground you could see where the progress ended, after me being told that I could only work another two hours. The one thing that I thought I should have been mainly concerned about was the front entrance to the library. I had stopped what I was doing in the playground, and went to work on the front entrance. That was definitely the wrong thing to do.