Meanwhile, since I've been at the Concentration Camp known as their Homeless Services, I've met 3 people who rode the recovery merry-go-round there, gobbling Vicodin along with their handfulls of psych meds, who committed suicide. The most recent, just last week.
But they won't let me in, a bona fide certifide medical marijuana patient, unless I "give up medical marijuana".
No thanks, I'll die on the streets first.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote:February 20, 2005
‘Tough love’ approach foundation of shelter effort for families
By SHANNA MCCORD
Sentinel staff writer
<img src=bin/rebele-client.jpg align=right>SANTA CRUZ — Single father Michael Tyree had been clean and sober for three years when he thought a glass of wine with dinner would be fine. Or a couple hits of pot on a camping trip would be harmless.
However, a little led to a lot and in no time Tyree, 35, was spiraling downward to a dark place he had been before.
Getting wasted on alcohol and marijuana dragged him back to using crystal methamphetamine, a nasty and highly addictive drug that Tyree had been hooked on in his 20s.
This time around, Tyree’s drug addiction led to a frenzied lifestyle of scheming and committing crimes to make ends meet and feed an insatiable drug appetite.
"I kept plummeting down," Tyree said. "I had no means to get more money or drugs."
Tyree’s days of driving Porsches, earning $30 an hour in the construction field as a foundation specialist and staying at $500-a-night hotel rooms are gone. So are the times when the highlight of his day was making a drug deal and getting high.
The high school dropout saw it all end about three years ago when the money ran out, his credit was shot, he lost his Redwood City apartment and the law caught up with him.
Realizing it was time to clean up for good, Tyree took his daughter, 5-year-old Mikaela, to live with his parents. He put himself in a recovery program in San Francisco and five months later was sentenced to less than a year in San Mateo County Jail.
These days Tyree and Mikaela are without a permanent home but are taking steps to get their lives back on track.
They’re among the hundreds of families hoping to move into the soon-to-open family homeless shelter on Coral Street in Santa Cruz.
Help is on the way
The $5.5 million Rowland and Pat Rebele Family Shelter, a temporary living arrangement for parents with children, with room for 28 families, has been under construction for the past year and a half. It’s part of the homeless campus on Coral Street that includes a day center, the River Street Shelter and Page Smith Community House — places to help homeless individuals.
The family shelter was named after the Rebeles in recognition of their $500,000 donation.
Other major private donations from local residents include $250,000 from Jack Baskin and Peggy Downes Baskin, and $175,000 from Miles and Rosanne Reiter.
The shelter effort received $1.1 million from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; $450,000 from the Kresge Foundation; $500,000 from the state Emergency Housing and Assistance Program and $500,000 from the California Endowment.
Raising the money was a competitive process that came down to the wire, with organizers struggling to bring in the required two-for-one dollar match necessary to receive the Kresge grant.
Land for the new shelter was made available through the city of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County. A dilapidated house that had been red-tagged by city officials was previously on the site. Also on the site was another house that served as the Homeless Persons Health Project, a health clinic run by the county.
The Homeless Persons Health Project is now a 4,500-square-foot clinic inside the new family shelter.
Ken Cole, head of the Homeless Services Center, said it will cost about $490,000a year to operate the family shelter, a large portion going to cover case management and food services.
Homeless Services Center is a nonprofit organization run by a volunteer board of directors and responsible for four major homeless programs, including the new family shelter.
In the beginning, the family shelter will rely heavily upon start-up money from private donors, then shift to government grants after it’s been up and running for a few years, Cole said.
"Most of the time you need to run a shelter before applying for government grants," he said.
They’ll also be looking for contributions from local government, he said.
Other family homeless shelters in Santa Cruz County include Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, The Jesus, Mary and Joseph Home and Siena House Maternity Home.
Cole expects Rowland and Pat Rebele Family Shelter’s first tenants to move in sometime next month.
About 13 homeless families have been through the screening process since it began earlier this month.
Though Tyree hasn’t been confirmed, Cole said, "I’d say he’s a good candidate. He’s done all the right things so far to get in."
The shelter is designed to help the hundreds of homeless in Santa Cruz County — people who have lost the roof over their head, yet have the motivation and desire to get it back.
The "tough love" atmosphere requires some house rules.
There’s zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use, and residents must have a job or be actively seeking one. A bank account to save money for housing is required and will be monitored, Cole said.
In return, the homeless families will have all their basic needs taken care of. Free food, laundry, health care, case managers, phones and high-speed Internet connections are included.
The rooms are furnished with new furniture and have been given "a human touch," Cole said, with framed art on the walls, matching bed linens, handmade quilts, clocks, calendars, desks and stuffed animals for the kids — donated by individuals and various area churches.
The individual bathrooms are stocked with shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, towels and other amenities.
If accepted, it’s likely Tyree and Mikaela would share a room with a bathroom, a desk and a single bed with an attached trundle bed that pulls out from beneath.
The maximum stay is six months, albeit Cole prefers people to be in and out within three or four months — forcing them to stand on their own as soon as possible.
Starting clean again
Tyree says he’s ready to meet these conditions.
He’s been without drugs or alcohol for two years now. He’s studying to become a drug counselor at Bethany College in Scotts Valley, works part time at Scotts Valley Fitness Club, interns at Camp Recovery in Scotts Valley — all while raising Mikaela and setting goals to own a home by age 40.
"I guess I’m a smart homeless guy," Tyree said. "I’m asking for help, looking for help and not looking for a handout.
"There are hoops to jump through, but anybody can make this happen."
Of the 3,300 permanently homeless in Santa Cruz County, up to 400 probably qualify for the emergency family shelter, Cole said.
The waiting list for Families in Transition of Santa Cruz County Inc., a long-term case management program that offers temporary rental assistance, has between 350 and 400 families, he said.
Cole expects the new family shelter to ease the load at Families in Transition.
Without help, he said, the homeless families are living in motel rooms, doubling up in apartments, couch surfing and sleeping in cars.
"That doesn’t give them stability of knowing where they’re going to be from one night to the next," Cole said. "That’s the piece we really offer — stability."
For now, Tyree and Mikaela are living in temporary housing provided by New Life Community Services, an addiction treatment center and homeless shelter on Fair Avenue in Santa Cruz.
Tyree discovered the program while jailed in San Mateo County. It was one of the few he found that allowed children.
Mikaela’s mother is not in the picture, Tyree said.
Also, he figured, moving out of San Mateo County to Santa Cruz would allow him to leave his reputation behind and start over again.
New Life allows Tyree to work a couple days a week at the Scotts Valley Fitness Club, where he earns $8 an hour at the front desk and attend Bethany College, which is paid for with grants and educational loans.
He receives about $250 a month in welfare payments.
Mikaela attends kindergarten at New Horizons School, a Soquel school with room for 25 homeless and transitional children in Santa Cruz County.
"Her father has been a really great parent," said Patricia Morales, New Horizons executive director. "He’s really been supportive with what the teachers have asked for him to do."
But New Life Community Services only provides housing for a short time, so come March 1 Tyree and Mikaela must leave.
Father and daughter are crossing their fingers that the Rowland and Pat Rebele Family Shelter will take them in and allow Tyree to stay sober, continue school and work, and find a permanent home.
As for Mikaela, Tyree said, "I explain to her this is a stepping stone, because I’ve made some bad decisions. She’s ready to move on and get our own place."
Contact Shanna McCord at firstname.lastname@example.org.