“Get a job, bum!” someone screamed from a passing car.
Jake carried six bags of crushed aluminum cans down a busy street. He wasn’t walking very fast. The bags were heavy and tearing in several places. “Get a job, bum!” someone screamed from a passing car. Jake kept his head down and continued walking. He didn’t want a confrontation. Eventually, Jake reached the recycling center. […]
When is a question not a question?
I was coming back from the hospital cafeteria when the nurse stopped me in the hall. “And how are YOU doing?” she asked me. I just stared at her. I had been suppressing my emotions for several weeks. I genuinely didn’t know. We were in a large hospital in New York City. I had been […]
My employee escalates conflict
Dear Ryan, How do I help my staff who “don’t get it” and escalate problems with our homeless patrons? Sharon Sharon, That is a great question and one I get a lot. First, let me tell you what not to do. Do not “summarize.” Avoid summarizing what your staff member is doing: “Please be more […]
How do I prevent conflict?
Jerome strolled into the shelter for lunch. He was NOT staggering or swerving. He was NOT slurring his speech. He WAS sober. That didn’t happen too often. It was time to get some pennies!!!! I would need them next time Jerome was not sober. Pennies in the Cup In last week’s email we talked about […]
The problem with “Conflict De-escalation”
It was one of the hardest de-escalation situations I’ve ever been in. The man was 55ish with a long ZZ Top beard. He had the lean body of someone who had spent the last 25 years in prison lifting weights. Because he had. He had only been on the “outside” for a week and he […]
Some homeless people are six months old.
Recently, I was going through a report of people that had just moved out of the shelter where I work. One person in particular struck me: A six-month-old baby who just moved out with his mother. He became homeless AND rehoused all before he was six months old. He won’t even remember having been homeless. […]
WLS Interview with Steve Cochran
Former Executive director at Hesed House Ryan Dowd joins the Steve Cochran Show to talk about how people become homeless, the 4 different types of homelessness he sees come through the Hesed House, and he explains why outlawing homelessness is inefficient. Visit WLS Website
My staff is freaking out after an incident.
Dear Ryan, I am a manager at a food pantry. One of our clients (who has an intellectual disability) had an outburst. She physically rushed at one of our staff. Fortunately, she stopped short of physically assaulting the staff member. Barely. The staff member involved is very shaken. The rest of the staff is freaking […]
Someone is stealing donations.
Dear Ryan, I work at a transitional housing program for individuals leaving incarceration. We have a closet where we keep donated items (toiletries, clothing, etc.). Lately, a lot of the donated items have gone missing. None of the residents will admit to taking them. What do we do? Kate Kate, So, here’s the thing about […]
Scripts for people sprawled out sleeping on the floor
Dear Ryan, We are a library in an urban area. A lot of our patrons experiencing homelessness like to sprawl out on the floor and sleep. Do you have any scripts for our staff to address this issue? Thanks! Mary Dear Mary, Thank you for your question! You don’t need scripts. Conflict de-escalation is almost […]