The Most Innovative Homeless Service You’ve Never Heard Of
You fork over $2 for the half-hour bus ride to get down to the San Francisco Mutual Transportation Agency office in order to apply. Another 30 minutes waiting in the lobby. When your name is finally called, the meeting ends after two minutes because you don’t have an ID. So you hop back on the bus, out another $2, and head over to the County Clerk’s office. But because you didn’t bring a proof of residency document from a local shelter, you can’t get an ID. By this time it’s nearly 4:00pm, the office will be closing soon, and you’re out enough money for a sandwich.
Indeed, when you don’t have much money, the path for any errand is fraught with pitfalls.
Criss-crossing town on a bus is neither cheap nor quick. Agencies can have weird hours, and many homeless people don’t have access to the Internet to see what time they close. What if you forgot a document? Some places won’t take you without an appointment, while others need you to come back for a follow-up next week. And even once you’ve finally secured an ID, a bus pass, and other bare minimums, your bag may get stolen one night, and you have to repeat the entire process.
These are the little inconveniences that can make it extraordinarily difficult for a homeless person to satisfy a single need. And there are so many others besides a bus pass: a shelter bed, a spot on the low-income housing waiting list, health care, a haircut, food. All this time spent trying to satisfy your basic needs is time not spent at work or in school.