My girlfriend and I were homeless after both of us lost our jobs. The U.S. Mission in San Jose gave us the opportunity to get off the streets and stay together. We are not criminals, we were just people who had some bad luck and needed help. It's been over 7 years since we left the Mission and now my wife and I are still together. She is starting her own company and I'm in the electrical union with our own place to live. Thank you U.S. Mission and thank you Michael.
To whom it may concern,
I have recently had the misfortune of staying at the Portland Oregon United States Mission. I intend to be brief here but I also intend to be direct. As stated the misfortune I encountered at the Mission began on Tue. August,14 2012 when I entered as a resident/member. Beginning on Wed. August 15, I started training as a door to door fundraiser as is customary at U.S. Mission.
On this same date one of the roommates in the room of five men that I was assigned asked me, in private, if I had noticed any "itchiness" because he was experiencing some. The conversation led to discussing mosquito bites we may have gotten in the evening while waiting to be picked up from our assigned areas but the conversation also referenced a situation, previous to my arrival, where a member/resident had needed treatment for what was described as scabies.
Sadly you may be able to see where this comment is headed. Within the course of seven nights while sleeping on my assigned bed I was covered with welts. As I am writing this I have more than fifty welts, many over an inch in diameter & at least one that protrudes a half inch, most have broken the skin leaving my immune system at risk in a high use environment as this particular Mission goes through over 300 men a year as stated by the House Manager.
Quite honestly it is not the bug bites, whatever speices they are, that prompts this review of the Portland Oregon United States Mission. I am an extremely durable person in good health so I'm confident I will be fine. I thoroughly understand the nature of residential situations & accept that contagion goes with the territory. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedbug
What prompts this comment is the handling of this situation by the staff. After due consideration when I had eliminated all other sources of exposure to skin irritants & was sure that my assigned mattress was the culprit I reported my pain to the staff member who had assigned me the bed. He became defensive & acussatory, stating, "I don't believe you. I think it is mosquitoes".
He also said "I don't have any place else to put you". This statement is most troubling because we had actually been out recruiting for new member/residents that day because there were two beds open. He also asked me not to say anything to the other member/residents about this subject, stating "the last time it caused a panic" a statement which seems to belie his denial of any problem. I slept that night in the back yard wondering how the previous person who had reportedly had scabies left. The following day, Thursday August 23 I left after raising a total of $536.85 by my count through door to door solicitation.
To finish up here I only want to point out that what we have here is the same tired story that has contaminated much of the social service sector. Having worked in that sector it is easy to recognize the scapegoating of vulnerable people to avoid the effort & expense of offering a quality service. In light of the fact that on my last day there among the 13 men seeking donations there was over $1600.00 collected it seems to me they could maintain a hygienic facility of at least promptly correct it upon learning there was a problem. In closing I want to say this organization has a valuable place & a great potential but it is limited by the people who operate it.
Stephen D. Igo
Mental Health Consumer Advocate
Certified Peer Support Specialist
I am attaching all communication I have received to date. Note it does not include an apology. Further communication with the United States Mission will be posted here in an ongoing effort to make sure that the disrespect with which I was treated does not happen to the next man in line.
Thank you for your comments. We are looking into this matter.
Brian Jones, Secretary-General
UNITED STATES MISSION CORPORATION
Review from Guidestar