The Side Effects Of Homelessness: Being Institutionalized Out Of Drinking Water

HMLS New Yorker

I went to sleep, and woke up, thinking about what I can do to promote my family’s health. A You Tube video I watched reminded me of the importance of drinking water. It’s sadly ironic how quickly being institutionalized can curtail your habits, and how long it can take to reinstate them.

In the last shelter I was in, several months ago, bottled water was abruptly banned. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for posts regarding that.) Of course, the water ban negatively affected my family’s water intake. It also changed my water-drinking habits for months to come. I purchase water, but my intake level is nowhere close to being what it was pre-homelessness and pre-water ban. I had to examine myself, and ask myself why.

Being in a system where your environment is abnormally controlled on a large scale by someone else, unfortunately, also means that your habits are controlled and damaged by that system as well. Being subjected to certain rules for a prolonged period consciously and subconsciously affects your momentum, and the things you are naturally inclined to do.

The You Tube video I watched reminded me of the importance of drinking water. Today is the day I start to re-implement consistent water drinking into my daily regimen.

-The Homeless New Yorker

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A Day In The Life Of A NYC Homeless Shelter Resident: May 4, 2017

HMLS New Yorker

[PLEASE NOTE: I WILL PERIODICALLY UPDATE THIS POST UNTIL 12 MIDNIGHT 5/5/17.]
1:30 AM: A strong drug smell woke me and my husband up, out of our sleep. (It took me about 20 minutes to fall back asleep again.)

2:36 AM: Awakened by someone using the sink in the hallway. (The shelter that I’m in has a “community” sink in the hallway for the residents to use. Some residents choose to use the sink at odd hours of the night. It’s one of those nuisances that you have to deal with when you live abnormally stacked on top of strangers.

4:45 AM: Wrote out today’s to do list. It is quite extensive. Unfortunately, a majority of the tasks have to do with unraveling homeless-related red tape. SMH! I also organized my housing/shelter related paperwork.

5:38 AM: A strong cigarette smoke smell starts to filter into my shelter room.

5:40 AM: I start to straighten up my shelter room, and I get prepared to start my day.

5:57 AM: The strong cigarette smell has not abated. Some minutes later, a drug aroma is added to the smoke aroma. I grab my tea tree oil for some quick aroma therapy. (The overwhelming drug/smoke smell from last night and this morning doesn’t have me feeling my physical best; another side effect of living in the shelter system. However, the show must go on, so to speak.)

• Since I woke up to start my day, until the time I sign out to leave the facility, I can hear people who reside in close proximity to me smoking and choking. Unfortunately, it is a common soundbite.

• I write the blog posts I want to post when I get to some Wi-Fi later on.

• Write out some of the occurrences of the past two days. (It’s quite a time-consuming endeavor, but it must be done. When being homeless, and otherwise, it’s beneficial to be able to say who you spoke to, regarding what, and at what time. Due to the eventfulness of the past two days, this task will take up a chunk of time today. I’ll do it periodically throughout the day. Being organized always pays off, so the time spent will be worth it.)

• Stop by a couple of discount stores to look for a sturdy tote bag. (For me, being homeless means carrying around a lot of stuff. A sturdy bag that can survive my day-to-day is not easy to come by. I’m always on a mission to find the perfect bag. Maybe it’s because I’m homeless; Maybe it’s because I’m a woman. Lol.

• I recently got invited to a co-worker’s event that takes place today. I think about how I would really like to attend. However, the event starts at about 8 PM, and as a resident of the shelter I’m in, I have a 9 PM curfew.

Late Morning: I grab a bagel and a tea. This will have to hold me until I get a better meal later.

• Contacted the management company that manages the NYCHA complex I’m on the waiting list for to update them on my recent interactions with NYCHA.

• Applied for two housing complexes.

• Received a call from the attorney who subpoenaed my DHS file for me. We’re still waiting for the file, even though it was requested over a month ago.

In the 4 o’clock hour: Grabbed some food and returned to the facility. The shelter smells like someone mopped the halls with a dirty mop. (That’s another annoyance of living in a space that you have no control over; everybody’s clean is not your clean.)

• I was able to sleep for a few consecutive hours in the evening, after barely getting any sleep the night before. However, I had to wake up before 9 PM to sign the bed sheet. (A daily protocol is to sign the Department of Homeless Service’s bed sheet before 9 PM. You have to wait until the facility prints it, which is usually sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. However, sometimes the system is down and the sheet becomes available after 9 PM, or a day later.)

11:32 PM: Cigarette smoke smell begins to waft into my room. It’s a pretty cold night for the month of May, but I open the window to let some fresh air in. The smell is not as potent as last night’s overwhelming drug fumes.

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The Side Effects Of Homelessness: The Cooking Hiatus

No Cooking

It’s really difficult not being able to cook your own meals. Restaurant food is expensive and salty! One of the things I miss is having a balanced, healthy diet, and being able to eat when you want to. It’s impossible to eat when you want to when you live in a shelter. There is no place to store food to keep it fresh, among several other obstacles that prevent basic, healthy eating.

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