Sunday, October 21, 2007

Time Off

Tomorrow is the first of 10 days off work. It will seem strange to sleep in on a Monday morning. I think I can manage, though. Have been working on a web based class for work and had not been able to access it from home, but I reset the computer and now I can. I guess I will work on the classes while I am off work. I was afraid I would have to go to the office, shut the door, and watch the classes from there. I am glad I will not have to do that, home is much more comfortable.

Have not taken any time off this year. Have been going in on Saturday mornings since the Dream Center started coming down to Taft Homes for their adopt-a-block program. Those folks are amazing. I have not minded going in to unlock for them at all. It has been a challenging year and the Dream Center has been a highlight of the year.

In its infinite wisdom, congress has instructed HUD to begin operating public housing like a private market business. As hard as we try to make it work, it seems like a lost cause. Not many private businesses can survive with 85% of the income that it takes to run the business! All we can do is the best we can do! I have said from the beginning that this was congress' way of signing the Death Certificate for public housing. I hope it survives the turmoil. The "general public" has no idea how many really good people live in public housing. They get up and go to work...sometimes not the best jobs. They may be working as a CNA in a nursing home, making beds at a hotel, calling you to collect on an overdue bill or serving you your dinner at a restaurant. Not the jobs that most of us want to do, but ones that need to be done. Many residents are students. ICC, Robert Morris College or a G.E.D. program, it doesn't matter. They are trying to make a better life for their families.

Not everything is rosie. There are problems, but the number of "problem residents" is much lower than the community thinks! Most of the problems come from the "outside" rather than from the "inside".

I have worked in public housing for nearly 16 years. There used to be grants for programs and modernization. Those funds have gone away. Taft Homes was modernized in the early 90's. Our furnaces are obsolete and need to be replaced. We can no longer get thermocouples for the majority of the water heaters, also obsolete. Funding cuts have led to massive lay-offs. We have two maintenance people. We share a carpenter, painter and plumber.

I will miss being at work. It will not be far from my thoughts!

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