When I was discharged from St.Lukes hospital, I didn’t know that I would be going to the South Bronx. So when I got to Franklin woman’s shelter, I was terrified. I knew nothing of my surroundings. There was a corner store that was it. The shelter was 5 stories with 4 stories being taking up by dorms.
I waited about an hour in the waiting area where I stuck up a conversation with a woman named Mary. Her friend was with her. She said she had just gotten out of jail, but I never saw her again in the shelter to get the rest of the story. I had a dollar and some change where I gave Mary’s friend the dollar so she could buy two loosies because she was going to the store for a bottle of water. Me and Mary shared a cigarette and she kept the other one for later.
I was accepted into the shelter after having to fill out a afidavid with my name and previous address on it. I was called into intake where the intake counsoler took my discharge papers and made copies for my file. I was given an appointment time for the next day to see a case manager at 8:30am.
I was given a bed on the second floor, sheets, a blanket, a towel, soap, a small bottle of lotion and unscented deodorant. I also got a generic tooth brush and tooth paste. I was given a meal ticket, which was to be carried with me everyday and renewed on the date given on the ticket, by a case manager.
I had to make two trips up the winding staircase, where security told me to sign for my bed. It was already close to 9pm. Lights out was 10pm. I made my bed but I had missed dinner. The room had an industrial fan but it was May and summer was approaching. There where windows across from me which where half opened and there was music playing from someone’s phone.
The next day I got up when the security gaurds called for morning roll call to get out of bed. It was 5:30 am. You had to be out of the dorms by 7am. Breakfast was served from 7-8am.
Food was scares. Sometimes it was just a breakfasts bar and a cup of coffee or a small bagal with no cream cheese.
I saw the case manager who asked me if I was getting SSI or any income. He told me he could be my payee but I would have to go to his local SSI office if I should be receiving anything. But I wasn’t. Then he told me I could apply for welfare but the maximum amount was $91 dollars. I didn’t know where the welfare office was. He gave me a voucher to try and get a metro card so if I had any appointments I could get there and back. He gave me 3 copies of a letter of resedency in case I made it to the welfare office.
Then he gave me two pair of pants one aqua colored skinny jeans and a pair of work pants. He gave me pajamas that barely fit but I resorted to wearing because my denim inspired leggings where chaffing and where starting were.
I filled out a paper for clothes from the donations closet. But I was lucky enough to have scored a pair of leggings and green gap sweatpants from the garbage someone had thrown out after washing.
I changed into the pajama bottoms in the drill floor bathroom stall. They where high water on me and fit tightly around my waste.
The case manager had given me an appoint to medical so I could get tested for ppd which was needed for the shelter. The appointment was the next day at 10am.
So after my appointment with the case manager, I went to the drill floor and then I went outside to see if I would be lucky enough to get a cigarette. I was picking butts up off the ground but no one wanted to give me a light. “She’s new” a few of the woman said to each other. One woman didn’t like the fact that I was picking up butts she wouldn’t let me touch her lighter.
The shelter was on a hill, I took a walk to the end of each block. There was a salon on one end in the middle of the block across the street and on the other block there was a small play ground. I was in the middle of the hood, not the ghetto. The bx32 was the only bus that ran up the street to get to the 2 train. I didn’t know how far the two train was or how long a bus ride it would be to get to welfare I had no directions and I was never given a metro card because I didn’t have an appointment to go any place.
I did however have one metro card that was given to me at the hospital on discharge before they made arrangements for me from a service to be taken by car to Franklin.
From 114th street to 1122 Franklin Ave in the Bronx it took about 45 minutes by car.
I had resorted to walking the block around the shelter. There was no where to go. There where 3 houses across the street from the shelter which where being rented out by families. But there was nothing around but a corner store that sold mops and house hold goods. The other corner store was closed due to renevations.
So some days I would sit outside and watch the women smoke cigarettes, one woman was nice enough to give me one and as I became a regular face women where busting me down a cigarette. But I was in the middle of no where. Franklin Ave has not a store around but plenty of people.
I was at Franklin for 14 days before I was notified that I was being transferred to another shelter. I had gotten picked up by coalition for the homeless.
While at medical I got tested for ppd and taberculous and had to wait a week for the results. I had a follow up to see the psychologist who gave me an appointment at Susans place to see the psychiatrist. That was the cause of my transfer plus you only stay at Franklin for 21 days. Your either moving into an SRO or being transferred to another shelter.
The car ride from Franklin to 176th and Jerome ave was about a half hour drive.
When I got inside Susans place the driver gave the PA my transfer papers and I was told to sit and wait in the waiting area with my suite case and my army fatigue duffle bag that a random stranger had given me. Ms. Brown gave me a clip board to fill out which was my contract to the shelter. Then I was asked to remove my things from the suite case and bag and put my stuff in storage bags. She told me to get the things I needed for a shower then we would put my clothes in the dry for bed bug inspection.
I took a shower and got dressed in the same clothes I was wearing. While at Franklin I was given two pairs of underwear so I changed my underwear. I was offered something to eat because it was past dinner time. I declined on the chicken and mashed potatoes. I had already eaten beef stew at Franklin.
I was taken to my dorm which is across the hall from social services to room 404 and given the last bed and locker in the line of beds on the right side. I was given a key lock, a towel, soap, lotion and unscented deodorant. I was also given a sheet and a blanket for my bed. The women where kind enough to introduce themselves as I made up my bed and put my stuff in the locker. Ms.Brown had given me an appointment for social services to speak to an intake cordinator for the next day at 9:30 am.
The next day after I saw the intake cordinator I was given an appointment to meet with Ingrid who would be my case manager. I was to see her the following week at 11am.
So after my appointment with the intake cordinator I went outside. A few women asked me if I was new. I didn’t really mingle too much. I took a walk to see my surroundings.
The 4 train is over head, so all day you hear the trains going back and forth. There’s the deli across the street , and the deli on the hill.
On burnside there’s a train station, a taco bell, a Chinese buffet, a and s and rainbow shops which I was glad to see. There’s two dollar pizza joints and a Kennedy fried chicken. But there’s nothing around. On Jerome ave where the shelter is there are 4 garages. The one that is across the street from the shelter is the one the shelter uses to park the two cans they own. The other 3 garages sell used cars or fix cars or sell car parts.
The shelter is in the ghetto. On University Ave is where the apartment buildings are. There’s a church which Ruby goes to and a metro PCS. There’s a sprint store and a T-Mobile on burnside by the grand concourse.
But Jerome ave is hilly and long. It’s an eye soar. I have had the pleasure of seeing what the south Bronx has to offer on van requests. On my way to 300 canal place to the HRA office. I can’t name streets or avenues all I know is that the 4 train doesn’t go to Ryder street. The BX 32 can be found behind the welfare office across the street from Boston market.
I never ended up taking the bus the one day I was supposed to get back to the shelter by myself. I ended up taking a $15 dollar cab ride for fear I would get lost on the bus which is about a 25 minute ride from canal place. I googled it.
The south Bronx is an eye soar. If your not in the hood your in the ghetto. There’s not alot of places to go shopping by the shelter unless you travel to 125th and Lexington and walk to 6th Ave or take the 4 train to Fordam road where there’s a Marshalls and a pretty girl. There a VIM located someplace but you have to know the south Bronx to get there. There are nothing but busses.
The bus that runs near the shelter is the BX 32 which will take you all the way to concourse village. So when I was talking to a guy from tagged he knew where the shelter was when I told him that the BX 32 stopped in front of the shelter.
Abdul lives near Yankee stadium which is 2 stops on the 4 train going into Manhattan. There’s a D train on the grand concourse but it’s far away from the shelter.
Jerome ave isn’t the land of opportunities, unless your looking for Spanish food or a car part. Things are not easily excessible. There’s a small supermarket a block away from the shelter which makes sandwiches and takes EBT. So unless your looking for food your shit faced out of luck on entertainment.
On the first when it’s payday the shelter is desserted, most of the women go out for the day until dinner time. They go into the city to go shopping or go see family. So there is always something to be had on the donations table, because there is alot shopping going on towards the beginning of the month.
I have grown accustomed to hearing the train overhead at bedtime. It kills me to sleep. I can’t say there’s never a full moment in the shelter, there’s always a dull moment in the shelter.