On lack of transportation at Washington DC Women Shelters –
Right now we don’t have laundry services. The women have to walk over to SOMEs from where we are at 1st and O, take a van over to Adams Place NE to do laundry and then the van doesn’t come pick them … there’s not good bus transportation there.
A Ockershausen: This is Our Town and this is Andy Ockershausen. I have a great, great sense of something important here today for our show and Our Town, and that’s to meet with someone that I’d never thought I’d meet with in the show, a homeless person, who I think is very important to this city and to Our Town. Thank you for being here. We got a lot to talk about, so I want to get started. She has a great laugh, very smart in math, she’s a smart woman and she lives in a shelter.
Our Town Special Guest That’s right.
A Ockershausen: How long have you been in a shelter?
Our Town Special Guest A little over three years.
Early Years and Career
A Ockershausen: That’s incredible. Now, tell me about your early years. You’re a local girl. You grew up and were born in Forestville, Maryland, went to school there, went to high school in Maryland.
Our Town Special Guest Right.
A Ockershausen: What high school?
Our Town Special Guest Suitland.
A Ockershausen: And you had a wonderful life in Suitland and you graduated.
Our Town Special Guest That’s true, yes.
A Ockershausen: And I know you’re very, very fluent in math. Math, I don’t know anybody fluent or efficient, but I know that. And then you moved to North Carolina. You got involved in the government of the United States. Were you working for the Air Force or for Uncle Sam?
Our Town Special Guest I was working for the Air Force, Uncle Sam, DOD, I was at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for four and a half years.
A Ockershausen: In Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Our Town Special Guest Yes.
A Ockershausen: And you did some work in Jacksonville, North Carolina also.
Our Town Special Guest Yes. I was down there for about fifteen years during the nineties and early 2000’s.
A Ockershausen: Wow. And you are civil service?
Our Town Special Guest Yes.
A Ockershausen: That shows me that you must have a lot of talent and you still end up coming back to Washington. Why didn’t you stay in North Carolina?
Government Career – North Carolina
Our Town Special Guest There were a few issues when I worked for the government. I ended up getting … In my early years working at the commissary, I got promoted ahead of my peers and I was 18, 19, 20 … 18, 19 when I started. By the time I was 22 I was promoted above my peers and they were forty-something and I think they held it against me. And they thought evil thoughts, maybe that I had worked …
A Ockershausen: Something special to get promoted.
Our Town Special Guest Right. Something special, exactly.
A Ockershausen: But, that’s not unusual in business, whether in government or in life. Even in the broadcast business there are people who … I had an age problem when I started because I started at the bottom and I got promoted and I was in charge of people who had once I had worked for. It’s difficult to do and you’ve done that, but that caused you problems.
Our Town Special Guest Yes. Eventually. During the 90’s I was working for the government still, but I was doing good. Every time they asked me to do something I always went above and beyond. I always was given a good pat on the back.
A Ockershausen: You performed.
Our Town Special Guest Performed, everything came out glowing, they were happy with everything. I would fix things for people that were well above my pay grade level and, like I said, they always called on me to help them out and I always came to and thought sooner or later I’ll get rewarded. Then they started giving me a hard time at work and said that you had to be courteous. You couldn’t be discourteous more than twice in a year. And they were getting on me for saying hello too sickening sweet. After that it went to I giggled about it and it was like, why am I laughing. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I thought …
A Ockershausen: If you didn’t laugh you’d cry.
Our Town Special Guest … what’s going on? Yes, exactly. So I ended up filing an EEO complaint because he was a male. There was two civilians and I was a female. He said he put the same element in his performance appraisal as was in mine so I wouldn’t think anything, but he was walking around cussing and carrying on and to me if you’re walking around cussing and carrying on, that’s discourteous. I just could never figure out who was identifying discourteousness and how it was being identified.
On Ending Her Career with the Government
A Ockershausen: You just couldn’t get along with that system.
Our Town Special Guest Right. They just kept picking on me little by little.
A Ockershausen: But when you came back to Washington, you were still civil service.
Our Town Special Guest No. I ended up leaving there in 2005, 2006 I left the government. I had filed EEO complaints, gone through process and I had won a case. I got a promotion out of it and back pay and I’d gotten compensatory damages, they had to pay my lawyers. Then everything started over again and I thought, all right, they’re just trying to chase me out, I can’t go through this again. My health was in danger. I was sleepless, I had anxiety, I had irritable bowel syndrome, I had just a bunch of different issues and I thought I need to take care of myself. I quit working, I lost 150 pounds, I got off all the medication I was on and I ended up losing my house.
A Ockershausen: Where was the house? In Washington?
Our Town Special Guest In Jacksonville.
A Ockershausen: Oh, Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Our Town Special Guest I called some friends and they came down and picked me up and then I stayed with them for a year and then they asked me to leave. I just, the time was up. I don’t know what I was supposed to do so I ended up …
A Ockershausen: In a shelter.
Our Town Special Guest … in a shelter eventually.
A Ockershausen: In DC.
Our Town Special Guest In DC.
Back in DC – Learning About Shelter Life from the Inside
A Ockershausen: And you obviously ran into a lot of people in the same position you were, had been through part of life, but couldn’t sustain it so they went to the shelter. Is that correct?
Our Town Special Guest Right. There’s a hundred different women in a shelter, there’s a hundred different stories. I found that out real fast. I ended up crying the first two weeks, I didn’t understand what was going on, but you learn to start helping one another.
A Ockershausen: Right. You reach out to one another, you’re helping. The government is there, of course, but that is a problem in itself, the government employees, because they’re just going through the motions, they’re not into it as a career. They just have a motion. Now, you’re supported by DC government or Uncle Sam. Who handles your food stamps, for instance?
Our Town Special Guest The food stamps … I think it’s DC that handles the food stamps. HUD establishes all the shelters, the federal HUD.
A Ockershausen: Federal government.
Our Town Special Guest They pay for all the shelters from what I can understand. Like I said, I’m just new at learning this. When Jim Graham had his meeting about closing of the CCNV shelters I attended that and learned a lot of players and learned who was in charge of what. It’s still a little confusing about where all the money comes from, who’s in charge of what, but DHS in the city monitors the shelters.
A Ockershausen: Did they close the shelter that Jim Graham had the thing on?
Our Town Special Guest No.
A Ockershausen: They wanted to move one up in Northwest I know, on Wisconsin Avenue. There was some controversy about that. I don’t know whether that was … There’s a difference between a men’s shelter and a women’s shelter, correct?
Men, Women, and Family Shelters – Designated
Our Town Special Guest Yes. I don’t know …
A Ockershausen: There’s no co-ed shelters.
Our Town Special Guest Not for single people. Now, there’s family shelters. I guess it’s husbands, wives and children, but if you were just … I had met one lady that was married and her and her husband couldn’t be in a family shelter because they didn’t have any kids. So he stayed in the men’s shelter, she stayed in the female shelter.
A Ockershausen: But if you have children you can live together with the child or children.
Our Town Special Guest From what I understand.
A Ockershausen: Right. And how many women’s shelters are there in DC?
Our Town Special Guest I’m not exactly sure. I just know the one that closed that we were in, it was run by the same people as another one, and then we moved to a new one. I know DC General’s out there. Everything’s fluid right now because they’re still opening and closing some.
A Ockershausen: What do you do about your medical needs?
Our Town Special Guest Government has the Unity Clinic right beside the CCNV shelter that was at 425 2nd Street and I go down there. They have a little clinic inside our shelter now, that’s only open Monday and Wednesday morning, but if you get …
A Ockershausen: That’s for the people that are in that shelter, correct?
Our Town Special Guest Right. But if you get sick after that hours you have to either go back to the Unity Clinic or go to an Urgent Care or wherever. But the government makes sure that you get on some sort of insurance to take care of you.
A Ockershausen: Do you do that with a card system? Or you do it by the honor system? I mean, why would the clinic help you unless you had proof that you were in a shelter, right?
Our Town Special Guest Right. They know that you’re in a shelter and they have to and they said they have to, provide free medical assistance to us. I don’t know what the ruling is, the specifics. So they provide and they know you live in the shelter, they know where your address is and then once we move they’re still covering us.
Life in a Women’s Shelter
A Ockershausen: How many women are in your shelter, in the group? You don’t have rooms, correct? You’re in a, sort of like a cabin of some kind within the shelter.
Our Town Special Guest A dorm. Yeah.
A Ockershausen: A dorm.
Our Town Special Guest There’s 213. The fifth floor right now is for the single, they have single rooms. They’re for women that are over 62 years old and they’re on the fifth floor and they can stay in during the day. The third and fourth floor are temporary shelter and they have 18 months in order to transition out of there and move into their own place. They’re supposed to have people called advocates work for them that are helping either find a job or helping them hook up with their place to live. They go over different things in their life, whether they need financial aid or whatever, assistance figuring out their finances. Then the first two floors are what they call low barrier and low barrier accepts anybody. Somebody can be using drugs, they come into low barrier. Once you come inside the building, you have to be following the rules.
A Ockershausen: The rules of the shelter.
Our Town Special Guest Yeah, right. If we have a …
A Ockershausen: They must have strict rules about drugs on premises, do they?
Our Town Special Guest Right. No drugs are allowed to be brought into the building.
A Ockershausen: But you can go outside and do it of course.
Our Town Special Guest Right, exactly.
A Ockershausen: Now you mentioned something about a commissary. Is there a commissary in place where you can buy food?
Our Town Special Guest No, not inside the shelter. We have to use our food stamp card or if people have cash, whatever they do, go buy their food. Low barrier, we’re not allowed to store our food overnight. So if I go buy my dinner, I have a sensitive stomach some food disagrees with me, so I usually have my plan B with me every night and I bring it in, fix it, eat and that way I can go to bed early too because it takes too long for the food to digest. I go out every day, buy my food, what I’m going to eat, and then bring it in, fix it and then got to bed, go take my shower and then go to bed.
A Ockershausen: And what are some of the rules? I know there are some rules about occupancy, correct? You have to be out of the building at a certain time. What other kind of rules do you see?
Our Town Special Guest You’re out by seven. You have to check in between four and seven, that’s for the low barrier. I’m not sure what the other floors have to do. After you check in between four and seven you can turn around and go right back out the door. And then you have to be in by ten, you know you’re not supposed to … They have quiet hours, start at eleven o’clock at night to six o’clock in the morning Monday through Friday. And then you can start taking showers at five o’clock in the morning til six forty-five, but we have to be out the door by seven so I don’t know how some of those women do that. And then …
A Ockershausen: Do they ring a bell to empty the building? Or you do it on …
Our Town Special Guest No, it’s just …
A Ockershausen: You watch your own clock.
Our Town Special Guest And they might walk through the building, it’s kind of small.
A Ockershausen: Right. What’d you say the top floor was … So when you’re 60 years old you can stay there all day, over 60.
Our Town Special Guest Right. 62 …
A Ockershausen: 62, I beg your pardon. But everybody else has to clear out on those hours.
Our Town Special Guest Right. They can have reasonable accommodations. If they’re ill or have a medical issue they can stay inside, but they have to bring a doctor’s note and get it approved. Or if you’re waiting for the clinic to open you can stay inside. Now they have activities there and they have activities down in the basement. They’ll have game day or they’ll have meditation.
A Ockershausen: They’re trying to give some entertainment.
Our Town Special Guest Right. If they stay in for that, then they’ll serve them lunch. And if the heat alert is on, in the summertime it has to be 95 with the heat index, or sometimes they include the air quality, and then we’re allowed to come in. They call it the alert system.
A Ockershausen: Come in earlier.
Our Town Special Guest And in the wintertime it’s 32 with the windchill.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, what happens when the weather’s bad, when it rains and snows. Is there a certain level or rain? Snow?
Our Town Special Guest No, no. In fact I brought that up when I first got here. I said, “You know, if we were in an animal shelter, they wouldn’t put the animals outside in the pouring rain”. And I have a rollator, it’s the walker with the seat on it, and I cannot carry an umbrella. I’m dangerous with an umbrella. If I have the short umbrella, the nice little mini umbrella …
A Ockershausen: Poke an eye out.
Our Town Special Guest … I’m too tall and it’s like hitting me in the head. If I have the large one, when it’s not raining it’s going across the sides, from one side of my rollator to the other side, and I’m hitting people as I’m going down the street and I’m trying to be careful. Walking in the rain is hard for me.
A Ockershausen: Very difficult.
Our Town Special Guest A poncho …
A Ockershausen: And walking in the snow is impossible.
Our Town Special Guest Yes, but last year I got out in the middle after the snowstorm hit and I got out and walked down the middle of the street and nobody bothered me.
A Ockershausen: This is information that blows my mind and I’m going to take a break here now and we’ll be back. This is Our Town, this is Andy Ockershausen.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen.
A Ockershausen: Speaking with a lady that we have been fascinated by who’s living in a homeless shelter in Washington and has been there for three years and has told us some stories that we are really, really quizzical about. One of the things that I want to know is in the bad weather, as you point out, there are some hotels that open their doors to homeless people for the lobby. And that to me is great. That goes on all the time?
Our Town Special Guest All the time. Even during the nice weather they’ll let us slide in. And there’s places that give away ice to us. I go in with a cup. I have to buy my soda in the grocery store. It’s not cold because cold ones are too expensive so I buy regular soda, take a cup in, some places even give you the cup, put the ice in it and then you make your own cold soda. The hotels let us use the computers and they don’t say anything and some places, other places, let us use computers.
A Ockershausen: Heat, you can go in and cool off. In bad weather you can go in and relax, get away from the weather.
Our Town Special Guest Right.
A Ockershausen: Have you kept up to your mathematics or you’re doing it on a computer now? Because I know you grew up as somewhat of a math whiz I’m told.
Our Town Special Guest I’m fascinated. I love math. I don’t know why, I’ve always liked it. I guess because there’s one answer. It’s not going to be somebody taking apart a story and somebody saying what’s the this or what’s the that of the story. No, the math has one answer. It’s a concrete answer. I find puzzles, the Epic Times comes out every week that has a whole page of puzzles in it and I’ve sat there and played with them. I usually try and keep it for the weekend, but the minute it comes out on Thursday I’m just like, “Oh, there are puzzles, something to do!”
Grocery Shopping and Medical Needs
A Ockershausen: That’s right, work it out. Tell me about the … I was fascinated by the food stamps, how you get food stamps. I didn’t know, I don’t think anybody in our audience ever really concentrated on that. I thought maybe you got something in the mail.
Our Town Special Guest It’s like a credit card. It a card, has your name on it, you have a pin number. You have to use it in a store that says EBT, I don’t know what EBT stands for. You can’t buy ready-made food, like I can’t go to Walmart and buy something over there in the hot deli. I have to buy regular food …
A Ockershausen: That you prepare.
Our Town Special Guest … that you prepare. You either microwave it or whatever. But sometimes they have ready-made sandwiches in some of the little corner stores that you can turn around and buy.
A Ockershausen: And they’ll take your card.
Our Town Special Guest They’ll take our card.
A Ockershausen: How do you know how much is on that card?
Our Town Special Guest On the receipt you get it tells you your balance and then …
A Ockershausen: Where do you get the receipt? By mail?
Our Town Special Guest No, the receipt from the grocery store.
A Ockershausen: Oh, you read it.
Our Town Special Guest And it says to keep them and keep track and make sure to check it and don’t give out your pin number.
A Ockershausen: Right. Because you get a certain amount each month and the government just forwards that to you automatically.
Our Town Special Guest Right. By your first letter of your last name. So DC, first of the month it’s AB and maybe C and the second day it’s something else.
A Ockershausen: How about your medical needs? Is that on a card or is that a system?
Our Town Special Guest At the first shelter I was at down at CCNV, the women’s shelter beside the main one, we could go down to the Unity Clinic, they supported us. And once they supported us, when we moved to the new shelter, they put a little mini-clinic in there. It’s very tiny. It’s open Monday and Wednesday mornings from like eight or nine to like eleven, but if you get sick other than that … The dentist is still down at the other clinic at 2nd and E Street and I’ve been going down there on a routine basis lately to see the dentist. And I saw the foot doctor yesterday down there, she comes in once a month. And they’ll make referrals out so if you go in there and they can’t handle it, they can draw blood in there, they can test for certain things, but they’ll send you out to a referral.
A Ockershausen: But you don’t have anything in … you don’t have a card or anything like you do with stamps.
Our Town Special Guest No.
A Ockershausen: They just have your number.
Our Town Special Guest They have our number. For the clinic they just know us. They’ve seen us all walk in there, they know our names. And then the government puts you into some sort of medical insurance and I have an insurance card with that. When I get a referral out to one of my providers, I have to usually show that and an ID.
What’s Needed – Transportation for Women Shelters
A Ockershausen: Well, do you have suggestions? I’m sure you do. What could the shelters, as a form, do to improve themselves? What is that you see that needs improvement and how would you suggest they do that? Because everybody’s going to say we want it better, but how?
Our Town Special Guest I think by not dismissing our complaints would be one. The shelter I was at before it was kind of like, oh, they would just try to brush it off, or that’s not happening. Then you would go to a little bit higher up and you never heard back from people, you weren’t seeing results. I have a very good contacts now because I write pretty often and have I think established a good line of communication with the people and they know my track record. I provide them factual data that stuff …
A Ockershausen: How to improve whatever it is that’s being done at the shelter.
Our Town Special Guest Right, what’s going on. As far as a complaint is going on, they know me, and then they investigate or whatever they do and you can pretty much see immediate results.
A Ockershausen: Right. But in the long haul, that’s probably instant results, but in the long haul, what do you suggest? Is it location? Is it building? Is it … ? What do you think the shelters could do in the long haul to improve?
Our Town Special Guest Well, right now the women have trouble with transportation. The New York Men’s Shelter, the United Planning Organization has a shelter van, you’ll see it driving around town.
A Ockershausen: I think I’ve seen it.
Our Town Special Guest Shelter transport van. They provide them transportation up to SOMEs, which is 1st and O Street, NW. They also drive them up to MLK library. But the women, that had stayed down there at 425 2nd Street, either had to walk to some day programs, some women’s day programs, like N Street Village and they had to walk to MLK, they had to walk to SOMEs and they never got transportation. Same thing happens now. Right now we don’t have laundry services. The women have to walk over to SOMEs from where we are at 1st and O, take a van over to Adams Place NE …
A Ockershausen: All the way to NE.
Our Town Special Guest … to do laundry and then the van doesn’t come pick them … And it’s over in a warehouse district somehow, there’s not good bus transportation there. Then the van will bring them back over and drop them off at MLK and then they’ll have to walk back to the shelter with their laundry. So doing laundry right now …
A Ockershausen: They make it very difficult.
Our Town Special Guest Yes.
A Ockershausen: Without that transportation.
Our Town Special Guest Without the trans-.
A Ockershausen: Would a van dedicated to that shelter be a big help then?
Our Town Special Guest That would. The United Planning …
A Ockershausen: Like UPO does.
Our Town Special Guest Right. To drive them back and forth to N Street Village. They’re making the women use their own money or funds, however they get around, to either do laundry or to get back and forth from different places.
A Ockershausen: But they never supply you with cash, is that correct?
Our Town Special Guest Oh no, oh no.
A Ockershausen: It’s always a form either sign your name in a shelter, I mean in a hospital, or your card, the little card they give you, which is the …
Our Town Special Guest For medical insurance?
A Ockershausen: Yeah.
Our Town Special Guest Yes.
A Ockershausen: That’s the way you have to be … Now, I understand from time to time there are donations that come to the shelter from various sources and what happens to these donations is something that’s been a concern of you and the other women in your shelter.
Our Town Special Guest Right.
A Ockershausen: Is that correct?
Donations – What and How
Our Town Special Guest Right. The last place we lived at there were many, many stories and I got to watch many different things. One night somebody dropped something off for Mother’s Day, it was some chocolate. And one woman came in that I know, she came in late from working, and she saw the two boxes come in. Another lady lived down the hall, she peeked out her room, saw the two boxes. Well, we never got the stuff for Mother’s Day.
Last year at Christmas time one of the churches that used to come and assist with dinner, they brought tall bottles of body wash. And one of the staff said she was going to put it in small bottles. Nobody ever saw the small bottles. Those boxes of body wash went immediately to the staff office and I asked for one that week and it’s like, “No, we’re putting them in …” See, people have allergies, you can’t do that to people. You can’t take something from a tall bottle and put it into a smaller bottle and not know what’s in it. It was bad to even think they were going to get away with that.
We’ve eventually got people to pay attention to what’s going on in the shelters. But now N Street Village, who are in charge of our shelter now, they accept donations at their flagship office. I’ve looked on their website and they want small bottles. The women in the shelter want tall bottles. We don’t want to go the office every night and ask for shampoo or body wash. We want the tall bottles. If churches come out or whoever wants to come out to the park and pass them out, we’ll go outside because they don’t want people outside of our building and the building itself doesn’t accept donations right there.
A Ockershausen: I got it.
Our Town Special Guest That’s their rule for the staff that they don’t accept donations right there, which it has to go through the other …
A Ockershausen: You know in the long haul that might be better because then if it’s a central location they can make the distribution. If they have to go to each shelter, then one shelter might get all the goodies and the others might not get any. So it’s part of the distribution system. We know there’s a controversy going on in Northwest Washington and that is about a new shelter would be moved from somewhere to come up onto Wisconsin Avenue in an area that may be very bad for the shelter people because of lack of transportation, lack of a lot of things. Have you heard about this controversy? You wouldn’t be interested in it, I mean you wouldn’t be involved in it.
Our Town Special Guest Right, it’s a family shelter from what I understand. They’re trying to break up DC General and put a shelter in each ward.
A Ockershausen: Right. The mayor …
Transportation Would Help Laundry Issue
Our Town Special Guest Well, they’re going to have to figure it out. There’s some things they don’t think about until after the fact. Like right now, our laundry situation. Some of those women have not done laundry, I’ve not seen them walk out with the laundry, and they’re worried about bugs. They wouldn’t at first let us take water back into the room because they were worried water would draw bugs, but dirty clothes will draw bugs too. It was like, hello, and you don’t have a place for us to do our laundry. We don’t have money, we don’t have soap money, you don’t have transportation money, so there’s a lot of factors in there.
A Ockershausen: You’re just a fountain of information and we appreciate that so much. We’re going to take a break now. This is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
A Ockershausen: We’ve had a wonderful conversation. It’s been great. If you had a chance to sit down with Mayor Bowser, would you have a list of recommendations for her to pass on to her people about the shelters and what goes on?
Ensure Accessiblity for Persons with Disabilities
Our Town Special Guest Well, it’s always something every week. It’s something different every week and I make sure I send out an email to whoever I can about whatever topic that is that week and make sure it gets to the right people. I’ll send it to four or five or eight different people, sometimes fifteen. One time I sent it to all the DC council and I said, “When you are building these new shelters, make sure that they’re handicap accessible.” If you look at the older, the generation of people down there at CCNV, there’s a lot of people that can’t get around. When we moved into this new place there were no handicap buttons to push to open doors …
A Ockershausen: Wow!
Our Town Special Guest … so every time I open a door I have to push across my thing. Now, eventually, it’s probably going to pull out my back somehow.
The other night we got a lady in the shelter in a wheelchair and I noticed the bathroom door, this was just last night, they had stuck the wet door sign, those little yellow flimsy things, to hold the bathroom door open because she’s in a wheelchair and she’s missing part of her leg. I don’t know how she’s going to open that handle and open it up.
A Ockershausen: She’s not going to.
Our Town Special Guest Somebody’s gotta come help her every time. So when they build these new shelters, especially the ones for the single, the ones for the family shelters probably have a younger generation there. I wrote to all the councilmen because I knew they were putting something in everybody’s ward.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, that was the plan. They wanted to move.
Our Town Special Guest I’ll make sure I send something out every week, whenever there’s something different, I send it to whoever I can. Usually I think I’ve got a pretty good track record with the people and providing them factual information in the past. They’ve checked on it, they know that I’m straightforward, I sit there and just … Sometimes I get responses back and sometimes I get thank yous back and sometimes I don’t hear anything.
A Ockershausen: Well, that’s not unusual.
Our Town Special Guest But the last few days I’ve seen a change in one issue that I brought up just this past weekend. I appreciate the immediate response. It’s not like I want it to fester or wait or go on, to pull people in, to go to an administrative hearing and then find homeless people as witnesses. They’re a transient area.
A Ockershausen: How many homeless people are there at this point? Do you have a grasp of how many women are in your shelter, for instance?
Our Town Special Guest Our shelter has 213.
A Ockershausen: How many shelters are there?
Our Town Special Guest I don’t know.
A Ockershausen: For women.
Our Town Special Guest I don’t know.
A Ockershausen: There’s some for couples and there’s shelters for men and there’s shelters for women, correct?
Our Town Special Guest There’s shelters for men, there’s shelters for women, there’s shelter for family, but if it’s just a husband and wife I don’t know if they have shelters for them.
A Ockershausen: I see. So they have to then split up.
Our Town Special Guest They have to split up.
A Ockershausen: But if they have children they can get in one shelter if there’s room.
Our Town Special Guest A family shelter, right.
A Ockershausen: A family shelter. So what other things would you want the city to do? You mentioned transportation.
Our Town Special Guest Transportation.
A Ockershausen: You need better help.
Advocating for Self and Others
Our Town Special Guest Help. We need washing facilities. They’re working on it. But like our elevator was out when we first got to the place. It was a renovated, brand new building. I wrote to everybody. There’s women going up and down the stairs with walkers, rollators, canes, bad knees. It’s an older generation, you can’t be going up and down the stairs. The elevator was breaking down, and I don’t want to say every day, but it felt like every day.
A Ockershausen: Constantly.
Our Town Special Guest Every other day for sure. And then they finally got new circuit boards in, had everything redone in the last month and a half maybe. It’s been pretty good.
A Ockershausen: So somebody is paying attention to your emails.
Our Town Special Guest Right.
A Ockershausen: You mentioned…what other things … Well, you’d rather have buses. How about the placement? You’re close to, supposedly these shelters are close to transportation. Is that true? Do you feel it’s close enough?
Our Town Special Guest Mine is. I like where I’m at because I’ve gotten used to that area and the people there know me, the places that I go to frequent during the day to stay out of the elements or to go shopping at. I can walk in, the security guards know me, “Hey, how you doing?” They’ll sit there and talk to me, you know, “How’s everything going today, I’ll take you to lunch” or something. They’re very nice. People have gotten to know me and it’s just …
A Ockershausen: I know the ice man wants to hire you, right?
Our Town Special Guest Yes.
A Ockershausen: That’s important.
Our Town Special Guest He just came along and saw me doing a crossword puzzle and says, “I know you can work”, but it’s catching the bus and getting back and forth every day, it’d be hard for me.
A Ockershausen: It’d be difficult, I understand that. This has just been such a great eye opening and ear opening discussion and we hope everybody that listens to this podcast knows that you’re out there and you’re working hard and you’re doing your best. This has been special for us. I know how close you and Janice were growing up, and still are, and we love you and want you to know that. We’re here for you 24/7, whatever we can do to help.
Our Town Special Guest Okay.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 1, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town podcast episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. We welcome your comments and suggestions on how you like the show or who you’d like to hear from next. Catch us on Facebook at Our Town DC or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to WMAL Radio in Washington, DC for hosting our podcasts.