NEXT DOOR SHELTER REVIEW
I used the Internet to explore my options as a homeless person in San Francisco before deciding to leave the comforts of a relatively stable household, a rent-free room in a relative's house a few states away. Some would call this venture (or adventure) brave and other's might call it dumb. Nevertheless I was intrigued with what I found online especially the CHANGES reservation system. Today I can attest that it is possible for a woman without a dime in her pocket to jump off a Greyhound bus in downtown San Francisco at 8 in the morning and have a 90 day bed reservation by 8PM that evening, with 2 free meals included with bed. More likely same woman will land a 1 night bed and have to spend a couple of more nights trying to obtain the popular 90 day accommodation.
I recently finished a four month stint at the infamous Next Door shelter in the equally infamous Tenderloin district of San Francisco, CA. The following is my review and a few reasons why women might want to avoid this particular shelter.
When I first arrived in San Francisco I was disappointed by what I termed a strong violence against women model. The males in the TL are ill-mannered, aggressive and gross. Maybe due to their preferences for sexual relations with one another or incidental sexual encounters with men who want to be women. I was next offended by the fact that just about any man can put on a dress and say he's a woman (trans) and be afforded preferential treatment due to real women. For example, one out of every 10 to 15 women in the shelter is transgender or "male." I would eventually get used to the men in San Francisco, and not only have I lost my resentment towards the trans population I had to share my living space with, today I feel bad for them because of the discrimination they face in this supposedly anything goes kind of city.
What does remain unacceptable to me is the disclosed violence against women taking place in Next Door shelter without reprimand or criminal prosecution. There were several couples (husbands and wives) in the shelter during my stay separated by floors. I say 1 out of 3 of these couples had some type of "DV" incident inside the building. Instead of these alleged domestic violence incidents resulting in denial of service, the couples and perpetrators were allowed to stay aka DV ignored. I was threatened by a one of these alleged women beaters and Next Door staff reprimanded me for complaining and trying to protect myself and apologized to him for the way I responded to his verbal threats. By the way, my reaction and behavior...non violent.
There are female perpetrators at Next Door as well. A violent female perpetrator can be described as a bully, a mean, cruel felonious type who tries to scare other women around them with loud belligerent uncontrollable outbursts early in the morning while the majority of the women on the floor are sound-asleep. A psychopath in other words. Next Door has a resident bully, a psychopath who has resided there for many, many years, a whole decade I heard. She's not going anywhere obviously; leaving her victims to suffer and deal with her.
Why is this character and this behavior tolerated at Next Door? The staff doesn't care.
Besides kitchen and janitorial staff most of the staff the residents will come in contact with include monitors- they do the majority of the direct services; supervisors- they are assessable during their shift(s) some more than others; and the manager and her director- who are rarely seen with fluctuating reputations for either being competent or incompetent. I generally have good things to say about the monitors at Next Door. Their job descriptions are overwhelming and I suspect they are all under paid. I like the majority of the monitors with the exception of one super mean female staff who would probably prefer to be working at Macy's if she was literate and had an acceptable criminal record. Another rumor is that the monitors are all ex-cons who can't work anywhere else, but like I said I like the monitors.
Conversely I must give the supervisors a big fat "F" grade. When you let one bad apple ruin the bunch this is the published result. I have a feeling maybe one of the supervisors does a stellar job but I am not willing to give out undue credit. My opinion is to blame them for everything I find unsatisfactory about this shelter. Hence, if they aren't responsible then they can blame their bosses who I generally know very little about.
Now back to the beginning: I started out by mentioning how impressive the CHANGES reservation system is. Well that depends. Most Next Door residents must be physically present to check in by thumb scan everyday between 2-5PM or else their 90 day bed reservation will be dropped and they'll have to start the whole process of standing in line in the middle of the night in order to have a one night bed reservation. How inconvenient and disheartening to think this could happen. Well this happened to me twice during my short stint. The first time it was my fault. The last time it was not. How do you argue with a computer's findings? You don't, "tough break kid." I will never trust CHANGES reservation system again for a 90 day or "long term" shelter bed. At least not until they change it. Right now it's not trustworthy according to what happened to this particular eye-witness. I would rather be given the opportunity to argue with and dispute the work of an imperfect human being working the books.
What is good may not always be effective or efficient. Note my review of Next Door shelter in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.
I am grateful for the time I had at Next Door, it was not all bad however I must advice sane women to avoid this particular shelter if at all possible.
I will be back with more reviews and suggestions in the near future.
"Open your mouth now!"