Exactly one year ago I left Alaska due to a few reasons, all of them had to do with my health and safety. I was essentially run out of Alaska. Many had tried before and I have written about what went on but things made a very dark turn.
Part 1 Brother Francis/Anchorage Assembly/Mayor Berkowitz:
The shelter was over run with bedbugs and as I discovered the blanket problem I was bit by bedbugs.
Brother Francis Shelter was very unsafe. I have immune system problems but their procedures were so bad that everyone including those with the strongest immune systems were in danger of infectious diseases. I had been told over a long period of time by several people that they only washed the blankets once a week. I laughed because it was absurd and said even these people who run this abusive incompetent shelter would not do something that evil, dangerous and stupid. Finally, someone who not only had intact mentation but also was very honest told me this was true. I then watched what they were doing and asked the people who did the laundry many questions. My conclusion was they were only washing the blankets once a week and I was sickened. They put the blankets in the driers and heated them up to kill bedbugs and lice but did not wash them to help kill the microbes.
The shelter I am in now washes the bedding once a week and we get a blanket, a sheet and a pillow case, but that is appropriate because each person keeps that same linen to be used by just themselves. Today is linen changing day for the women, I stripped my bed and tonight will have to make it. If someone leaves the next person who is assigned the bed strips it or if they are on the floor the linens are put into the dirty linen barrels to be washed or if someone has incontinence or some other issues they get clean linens. The people on the floor take their linens when they get up and put them into a garbage bag with their name on it to use for a week, then they are washed.
At Brother Francis they have those prison boats in the dorms, but most of the people are on the floor. The dorm people keep their blankets which is all the people get at BFS, one blanket and I experienced a period of time when there were not enough blankets for everyone because staff let people steal a very large number of them right before their eyes. I of course told them it was going on and certainly it was written up more than once in the over 200 grievance forms I filled out. Then they began abusing me massively! The people on the floor are given a blanket, then in the morning they are all thrown on the floor in the laundry room in a pile. So imagine what is on those blankets after being on the body of a person all night, a person who may drag it on the floor or walk on it and other people may walk on it. There could be people blowing their noses on it or men masturbating into them, they may have pooped their pants or peed themselves. People could have open infected wounds, may have sat down outside on the filthy sidewalks, be wearing filthy clothing, not have bathed for months and there are lots of places they could have picked up bacteria and viruses. People could have foot fungus or venereal diseases, they most certainly could have viral illnesses and of course shelters are the worst place for catching them. The drier does kill some germs, but not even the majority of them. Yea this is really gross. Several times I had a blanket that smelled like pee and thought I must be imagining it because that blanket was washed, but no it was not and there was an area of the shelter where there were elderly men who were incontinent of urine which sometimes flowed off the mats onto the floor. I called it the hallway of pee. This is disturbing and homeless people are forced to live in these kinds of conditions while politicians and their staff tell happy little lies to cover up the truth.
I could not believe they would do this even after the horrors I had been through there, even after they allowed someone to torture me and sabotage my health care. I was completely shocked that non-profits are completely unregulated. By now I have figured out homeless people are considered non-humans and certainly the government wants us to die as fast as possible so they let these non-profits running the shelters do as they please and take no action. I did ask the Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Berkowitz to get Catholic Social Services to court and remove them from the shelter before I even knew about the blankets, they refused and the same exact people who treat the homeless like animals are still in place.
I had confronted a staff who came from Bean’s Café for a new position about the blankets who is a very nice lady so I hope she was able to affect some changes and she claimed she had no idea the blankets were only being washed once a week and said she was horrified too. Her solution, dah-ta-dah-dah…to wash the blankets three times a week. Yes that means the homeless are only exposed to body secretions and pathogens four days a week. Doesn’t that just make you feel clean, fresh and healthy? All homeless shelters were created with a severe deficit of washers and driers because who could have known there would be lots of laundry in a warehouse shelter packed like a sardine can. This is often used as an excuse.
Then on top of this I was going to the mayor’s office almost every day they were opened until before I left to tell them about the problems and at first I believed the talk about helping the homeless but clearly if they left CSS in place at BFS they don’t care but instead are just putting on a show for the public. I was taken to see housing that was not available by staff of an agency at the request of someone at the mayor’s office and the woman in charge of the housing was rude to us…until the staff mentioned the mayor because low income or homeless are not considered humans. There was no housing, they had no openings. I finally realized when it was revealed they were going to run the homeless from the bus station and downtown that the mayor was not being truthful.
There was no health care, that clinic where the homeless went lied to the public that they were taking new patients and had signs in the buses stating they did. Those signs also said they took Medicare and they did not take Medicare patients. The staff was also kind of nasty when I called, of course they were they serve the homeless. They made many unethical claims to the public and lied to me. There was also no real case management at Brother Francis Shelter.
It was disgusting beyond belief. No one believed me about BFS until their incompetence destroyed $20,000 of food at Beans Café and caused the soup kitchen/day shelter to be closed for quite a while so clean up could be done.
There is much more I have not told about what went on at Brother Francis Shelter. The American public has no idea how horrible the homeless are treated, that homeless people are actually a commodity created by neoliberal economics and are used by the non-profit industrial complex to create jobs, high paying ones for the administration staff and crap pay for the lower level staff. These non-profits are dealing with vulnerable people, the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, the intellectually impaired, large numbers of traumatized people and the chemically dependent yet there are no regulations about health and safety for them in the United States. They do as they damn well please.
The shelters also create trauma in many ways, throwing out people who have issues for not following rules in the middle of the night is unsafe, especially for women. Where I am now the staff can make a paperwork error on one shift documenting chores and a person who has complied with their chores can lose their bed and have to sleep on the floor even when they know you were not lying when you said your chores were done. It is very dehumanizing how they have power to hurt people and some enjoy it.
The filth and contagious viruses have almost no interventions other than the pushing of vaccines. Live vaccines are contagious so the disabled with immune system problems get very ill in shelters, especially the ones where there are children. Shelters throw away the property of the homeless often all of the person’s meager possessions without good cause or because they are such a shit show they can’t get organized enough to figure out what they hell they are doing. They did this at BFS to a woman who had just arrived in Alaska and had brought only things to help her find a job, she was devastated. I advocated for her and she got about 1/3 of it back. When her next Social Security check came she used it to get out of Alaska.
Where I am now is worse than BFS for throwing property away, way worse. I had this happen to me here and the suitcase they stole from me contained the civil cases I was working on and FOIA requests that took me years to get. I left Alaska to try and find peace to work on them but instead they are gone and after that I had one virus after another as I could not get the supplements I needed for ME/cfs and was so very upset over it. Then there was the abuse at the clinic here and misdiagnosis just like in Anchorage, I nearly died last winter. The staff lied about stealing and throwing away my property which included the suitcase and I made the police investigate it. I had to file a complaint and make a big deal out of it because they cover up crimes against the homeless. The police of course declared it a civil matter, you know just like when officers of the court and two psychopaths set me up for wrongful arrest and imprisonment, stole my property or damaged it, starved and tortured my cat and made me homeless while several crimes were committed against me. The Alaska State Troopers said those crimes against me were all just civil matters too, thefts and animal abuse, perjury in the Nome Court and filing a false police report. All crimes against the homeless are civil matters unless they can keep it a secret from the public or keep the victim quiet about it, then it is nothing at all. Just this morning where I am a man who was very upset began yelling, then I heard him later yelling outside and I knew without asking that his property had been stolen and thrown in the dumpster. But he was of course the bad guy for being upset.
The shelters traumatize people who are already traumatized over and over, they can be quite nasty. Then everyone wonders why people are drinking and using drugs. PTSD carries a high risk of chemical abuse, traumatized people need help, not more trauma. They have never heard of the trauma-informed approach, it’s the informed part that is the problem and empathy on the part of the administrative staff. The lower level staff do have among them people who do care about the homeless.
Back to the mayor’s office. Every day I went to Kaladi Brothers for coffee and to get on the internet. Then I went to city hall to use the bathroom just before I went to the mayor’s office to give the Brother Francis report. I brushed my teeth in the downstairs bathroom and did not cause a mess or problem. I began to be harassed by the house keeper and got permission from the mayor’s staff to use the bathroom and was told to let him know if the problem continued. I have an email unless they use the same software to remove them that was used to remove the Sarah Palin emails from my account. Within about a day or so I was told they rescinded the permission to brush my teeth but I could use their bathroom in the mayor’s office. By then I was pissed off so I just brushed my teeth at the bus station but I did continue to use the toilets in the first floor bathroom at city hall.
The behavior of the housekeeper was quite odd and there was a security guard who was an ass. There is a room between the women’s and men’s bathrooms where they must keep the bathroom supplies on the first floor of city hall. The housekeeper either would show up through the regular door or pop out from that storage room like she was trying to catch me doing something evil, it was quite bizarre. I began to call her Secret Squirrel. I would use the toilet and yell something, OK Secret Squirrel I just peed do you want to come and check its specific gravity? OK Secret Squirrel I’m here and no felonious tooth brushing has occurred. One day I went to get a dental pic out of a pocket of my suitcase when one fell to the floor. She was standing there monitoring my every movement and ran over to the pic lying there on the floor, stood over it bending down and pointed at it before I could even bend over to get it. It was very strange. I said, yes I dropped one and I always pick up my own garbage so what in the world is wrong with you woman? That is certainly not the last thing I have dropped accidentally.
I actually had a security guard threaten me that he would throw me out of city hall if I brushed my teeth because, “That is not what that bathroom is for.” Then I said I could see the protest for this, hundreds of homeless people showing up tooth brush in one hand and tooth paste in the other all lined up to brush their teeth in that bathroom. Yes this went on under Mayor Berkowitz who tries to present himself as the pro-homeless mayor. But then he is the same one who ran people out of camps who had no other place to go, then allowed BFS to throw them off their property when those people evicted from camps did the best they could to comply with what they city wanted and camped on the shelter property. I called about that and left a message as soon as I read about it, then the ACLU issued a letter against it, but the mayor stated the ACLU agreed to that plan. No way did they agree homeless people should be run out of camps with no place to go, that is ridiculous. He is the same mayor who seeks to convince the public there is housing for the low income people. If there is housing it is most likely untenable. I looked and tried to find housing and if it existed I certainly would have left BFS where I was abused and traumatized by staff.
Part 2 is much more frightening.