Since I posted my last article a few days ago, the situation at The Shade Tree has gotten even more ridiculous. Over the holiday weekend an email went out notifying the advocates that a list of people were to be moved to the second floor. I was one of the people on that list. The person who sent out that email is my case manager, and she has been out sick for days. No one said anything to me about paying the aforementioned $90; I was simply to move downstairs which, if readers recall, means I would be out in thirty days.
There is something I failed to mention in my last post. While the Army veteran I wrote about was never told anything about needing to pay, those who came in after her (I am one of them) were told we had ninety days before we would be required to pay the monthly fee. Last night, a Navy veteran was told she either had to move to the second floor or pay $180! Back "rent" for August and "rent" for the month of September. She has not even been here sixty days yet, and has never been given any kind of a written nor verbal notice saying she was in arrears. No court in the land would enforce her paying for the month of August, but The Shade Tree thinks it has everyone by the short hairs.
Well, they do not have me by the short hairs, nor will they. Here is what is happening: One of The Shade Tree employees' paycheck bounced. Other employees report their paychecks have been shorted. One Shade Tree employee was seen at EZ Pawn with items donated to The Shade Tree. He told the clerk that they were items that were "just sitting in [his] garage, collecting dust". What he did not realize is a Shade Tree resident witnessed the transaction. I should also note that the question has circulated around the shelter since my arrival as to where the donated items were going since they never make their way to us (the residents). Now it appears we know.
One woman at The Shade Tree has six children (save the political comeback; the facts are what they are). She found temporary work, but must come up with $630 ($90 x 7), or be out. It is clear to me that something very serious has happened to The Shade Tree financially. Maybe someone embezzled the funds. Maybe someone cannot count and simply misspent the funds. (Oh, did I mention that their accountant quit?) Regardless of the cause, the residents are now being harassed for money they either did not know they owed, or were told the money would be due later on after they had stayed for a set period of time.
I should also note that the Veteran's Administration refers homeless veterans to this facility thinking the veterans are being taken care of. The VA is blissfully unaware that veterans are being lied to and hosed financially. I think someone should tell them.