Wednesday, June 4, 2014

All Quiet on the Northwestern Front

At least under present circumstances, it feels pretty awesome, having nothing much to say about my life. A lack of excitement is usually a good thing when you're homeless. It's not that nothing's been going on, it's that I'm not watching cop cars prowling around or parking nearby and spying on me through their side-view mirrors, I'm not shirking before shadowy figures engaged in theft by the light of the stars and street lights, and I'm not getting my tarp blown down the street by an icy wind or getting rained on while lugging a heavy bag full of bottles and cans. No news is good news.

I moved again, this time even farther out and actually inside the industrial district of Northwest Portland, instead of being perched on the edge of it like a vampire lurking outside a cottage window. I'm also doing something different this time: I'm sleeping on a loading dock. It feels a little bit like sleeping in a doorway, only a very large one with better overhead cover; I haven't slept in a doorway in fourteen years and have until now considered that kind of practice to be for noobs, nutters, and burn-outs. A small tent in a thicket and out of sight of any roads or residences — and far enough away from freeways or railroad tracks to be at least reasonably peaceful — is what I consider the ideal; or, rather a feasible ideal, because a boat or a utility van would undoubtedly be preferable, especially with access to electricity and potable water. Still, I like this spot, and hope I can use it for at least couple months: there's almost no traffic on the road in front of me, even during the day, and I'm concealed from view from one direction and even from the other direction a person would have a hard time noticing me because I'm tucked away in a dark corner in a black sleeping bag.

Which begs the question: when will I get back into housing? Answer: in a VERY LONG time, probably at least one-and-a-half years, though I suspect it may be more like around two years. I just went to the Fountain Place recently to check my number on the wait list, and discovered to my dismay that after over three years I've only gone down one to #8 from #9, where I stood four months ago (I started out at #20). Even if I allow for an average of three months per number I'm looking at a two-year wait, especially considering there's only fifteen subsidized studio units in the building ... which means two more winters spent outside. Not only that, but even though the wait list is currently frozen because it's so long, if it gets unfrozen any time while I'm on it I can easily start crawling back up in the list because of tenants transferring from unsubsidized units to subsidized ones — they're given preference, you see. The housing coordinator at Central City Concern has me on wait lists for two or three other places, but I can't help but think that they'll end up being as bad or worse than the last dump I lived in. Under such circumstances it's pretty hard to feel optimistic.

But, in the meantime, it's almost summer and the past week has been absolutely gorgeous to live outside in. I may as well enjoy what I have and keep plugging away at improving my living situation and seeking employment. Fretting over long housing wait lists will only serve to ensure my heart is drenched in a soggy winter even whilst strolling down a sunlit street on a balmy July evening. There is, after all, such a thing as borrowing trouble, to use another apothegm.

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