Steve is going to need a job. He is a genuinely nice guy who presents well, is intelligent, articulate and motivated. A health conscious man in his mid-thirties, he recently graduated number 2 in his class at culinary school as part of Homeward Bound’s Fresh Starts Program. Steve is also currently homeless.
I’ve been getting to know Steve. After the New Year he spent a week in Sonoma County visiting his teenage daughter who lives with her grandparents (Steve’s ex-girlfriend’s parents). Steve is indigent, so poor he can’t even afford the $3 per night the emergency shelter that Mill Street had been providing him. Still Steve brought his daughter presents when he saw her, which I’d imagine cost him several weeks of housing at Mill Street. Steve wants his daughter to be proud of him. He’s proud of her. She got all A’s and one B this past semester in high school.
I saw Steve the other night waiting to get picked up by the REST program bus. He had injured his shoulder the night before. I watched as he tried to move his arm, in obvious pain and discomfort: I told him he needed to immobilize it for 72 hours and that he should see a doctor. “I’ll be alright,’ he claimed. ‘I can still work on my core anyway, and this should be better next week.” (The next day we learned his shoulder was broken.) It’s hard living outdoors, and it’s even harder when you’re trying to claw your way back, now with one good arm, and his left arm at that. He’s prepared to fight through it, and continues try to rotate and extend his arm while his face twists in pain. He can’t let the shoulder stop him. It’s becoming a matter of life and death.
Steve spends his days among the homeless and destitute because that is his reality. There are chronically homeless people in the streets of San Rafael who live their lives one drink to the next. From what I’ve observed meth use is common in our homeless population. Steve stays away from alcohol and he doesn’t do meth. He’s tried drinking, and it only made things worse. It’s only my opinion but if Steve doesn’t get off the street soon things could become much worse. A man’s resolve can only stretch so far. At some point, when people like Steve succumb to drugs and alcohol it can be almost impossible to get off the street. Those ephemeral highs can be a convenient escape when you have no place to live, you’ve got nothing to live for and it seems like there is no one in the world who loves you.
Luck may finally have come Steve’s way. After three years of waiting on a Section 8 list a room at a sober house is finally available for him in San Rafael. Steve’s not even going to need to work the first few months which will give him time to heal, but he will need to find a job and start paying for a share of the rent. Steve worked for a carpet cleaner for three years who is now out of business. He worked at the Mount Tam Racquet Club for an extended period at the front desk. A graduate of the culinary program it only makes sense for Steve to remain in the food services.
Steve was able to get some work in catering over the holiday season but that’s dried up now. He would love more regular work in catering. He’d take a job as a busboy with the hope of working his way up to a waiter.
To me one of the biggest reasons we have the homeless programs in Marin County is to help people like Steve get back on his feet. He’s trying hard. He’s doing what he’s able and wants to become a productive member of society. Steve could be a model of success. He could make his daughter proud but he can’t do it without help. If you know a suitable employer who would like to make a difference in the life of someone so deserving and well intentioned please let me know.
 https://hbofm.org/Culinary-Academy.html The epicenter of Homeward Bound’s job training program. Homeward Bound provides transitional housing and services for the homeless, a vital link in Marin to getting indoors permanently
 https://hbofm.org/Homeless-Adults.html A 55 bed emergency night to night emergency shelter in San Rafael, the only one of its kind in Marin County, providing housing and meals for over 25 years to the homeless: at last count there were 933 homeless in Marin County
 http://www.togetherweserve.org/winter-shelter/ The REST (Rotating Emergency Shelter Team) program is Marin’s temporary emergency shelter program run by different congregations throughout the county, housing up to 40 men and 20 women
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_8_(housing) Subsidized government housing, it can take years for a spot to open up