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Shelters and Sleep (or Lack Thereof) on the Street

Since the middle of June, I've had nowhere to live, after a personal financial crisis and an iron lady of a landlord unwilling to work out other arrangements left me forced to move out of my home of six years. While moving out into uncertainty was something of a emotional challenge, at least I was able to get into a nighttime shelter for women on a fairly consistent basis. Until now.

Not all areas even have a place like this, but my city has only one shelter for women without children. It's not a particularly pleasant place — it's rather dirty and poorly maintained, has only minimal privacy, is often at capacity which leaves women competing for the limited spaces, and from the stories I've heard, is actually inferior in the quality of services compared many other shelters throughout the region, defying my city's (undeserved) reputation as an enlightened and socially just community. But at least it felt safe and I can name a few other places where I'd rather not be instead: prison (food here was completely maggot free!), a refugee camp, a mental hospital. So I can't complain about it too much.


But like most shelters, there is a limit on the number of days one can stay there, and this one is pretty harsh about it. Two months and that's the end, with only limited exceptions, so you'd better find a new place fast. Many fail, despite their best efforts, sometimes just because they ended up on a wait list longer than that. I failed too, and I don't have the kind of money yet that would allow me to get some cheap lodging for the night or the kind of real life friends that have a sofa that I can sleep on, so out to the street with me.

Mostly I just have to deal with cold and uncomfortable surfaces, but I've had to deal with men I don't know bothering me in some way every single night I've been outdoors. Many of them come with the attitude that they need to save me in some way, and get offended that I don't want to be their girlfriend or smile or to be touched without permission, but at least they've all left when I've asked. But it leaves me feeling extra vigilant, wondering who else might be out there, making it just that more difficult for me to sleep.

The night here is so pretty, too. I just wish I could enjoy it again instead of worrying how I'm going to get through nine hours of it. Thanks for reading my rant.

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