Thursday, June 14, 2007

HOMELESS SINCE KATRINA - UPDATES

June 16, 2007

(I am posting this blog on an earlier date to keep the blog postings and narratives consecutive.)


I found "A" yesterday, he is the homeless man I wrote about in the previous blog posting.

He is still gun-ho about getting his Louisiana identification card and getting a home for himself. Since I saw him last he has been doing odd jobs trying to get enough money together to go and see his mother and family in Texas, (they evacuated and have stayed there since the storm). "A" stayed to watch over the house and what little belongings were salvageable after the storm. He told me he did it for his momma. That is why he has not been able to restart his life as the rest of the family has; he felt deeply that it was his obligation to take care things here.

He believes this is his chance and he told me that he is ready to "get his business together". He gave me everything that he has for identification (I know what many of you may be thinking and you are right! I asked him about giving me these precious documents as they were all he had and was he sure that he trusted me with them, boy did he give me a look for even asking such a question!). I am going to UPS to to make an extra copy of each. Being able to study the documents he has more closely, I have found that the letter he has from the Social Security Administration will be a satisfactory document with its seal on it, to get his Louisiana Id and the other documents he has will work as secondary documents of proof of identification.

This morning before writing this blog posting, I researched info about the DMV online and found out that we have other options of branch offices we can go to get his Identification card. Hurrah for the waiting lines at the Airline Highway office was intense.

Here is the interesting thing, I don't know the exact statistics, but it seems to me that a good part of the population of the city of New Orleans do not have vehicles - I see them waiting for buses, taking the trolley cars and walking. The bus services are still greatly diminished since pre-Katrina. The interesting point here? There are no branch offices in the center of the city where people from uptown, mid-city, and the 9th Ward could access the branch offices of the
"New Orleans" DMV - New Orleans - Lake Forrest Boulevard Branch and New Orleans - 102 Veterans Boulevard Branch to get their identification cards. It is the poorest of the population of New Orleans, who coincidentally happen to be the majority Black American population; who have to travel the furthest and have the greatest amount of hardship in accessing a Louisiana identification card. Many to most of the inner city population, many of the elderly, especially in the 9th Ward, do not have transportation, which means it will take the better part of losing a days work for them, friends or family members to help them (offices only open Monday through Friday and until 4:30 p.m.) to get their Louisiana identification cards.

Hmmmm.... You can't vote without one. You can't get medical or mental help, you can't stay in a shelter...

The above is just one example I have found in New Orleans of how the political talking points of being a "Nation of Compassion" is manifesting on the ground. My experiences in New Orleans working amongst the poor, the elderly and the homeless are making it clear to me that WE THE PEOPLE are not a "Nation of Compassion". WE have many compassionate people who are a part of this nation. WE have many compassionate people who help others through donations of their time or money and or both, (as I have witnessed in New Orleans). The "proof" of our being a "Nation of Compassion" comes in the laws and the systems that WE THE PEOPLE are responsible for - Local, State, and National - which assist the poor, the homeless, and the elderly.

Ah, I digress.

I am picking up "A" in the 9th Ward on Monday and driving him to one of the branch offices to to get his Id card. Once we are finished with this task, our next goal is to get him an intake appointment over at
Unity for the Homeless, (we discussed this yesterday and he is willing and ready).

F.Y.I. - Even the homeless men and women staying at the temporary overnight/longer stay shelters need to have Louisiana identification cards. It appears to me that the system here seems to be in place that creates "ordeals" for the homeless and poor to change their circumstances without considerable help and resources. "A" is only one man out of thousands who are homeless since Katrina (and in this narrative, I am not even discussing the homeless who were on the streets pre-Katrina!). Think of all the people right now as you read this who are living in abandoned gutted out houses, or on the streets, or in shelters - who do not have someone to help them.

Prayers... for the suffering 'amongst' us.



6/29/07

"A" has been talking with others and has found out that the things I have shared with him about getting things together one step at a time is valid and is ready to take the next step. I am taking him to the Social Security Administration on Monday and together we are going to take the next step towards getting him on his feet and eventually into a home.

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