Surviving Uncaring Board and Care Homes

I have experienced endless abuses in board and care homes, including substandard housing, lack of food and rigid rules that treat adults like children. Even the name “board and care” is a misnomer. All too often, the people who ran these homes couldn’t care less about their residents.

by Joanna Bragen

 

As I sit in my chair in my two-bedroom, Section 8 apartment looking at my sweet dog asleep on my couch, I can’t believe how far I have come. My past housing, as a person with mental illness, has changed 180 degrees.

Art by Christa Occhiogrosso

When I first came out of my first hospital stay, I was still married to my ex-husband, but stayed with my parents so that they could help take care of me while he worked. I suffered from akathisia, with physical agitation and intense anxiety, and spent half the night walking circles inside their house. Eventually, I moved back to El Cerrito with my (then) husband.

I underwent many hospitalizations and ended up in many “board and care” homes. Even the name is a misnomer. Too often, the people who ran these homes really couldn’t care less about their residents. Board and cares are the biggest racket I have ever seen.

I experienced endless abuses there: substandard housing, lack of food, and nearly no nutritious food. In only one board and care, where the workers were really mean, did I ever have fresh fruits and vegetables. The board and care took almost all of my paycheck and barely expended any money on the residents. I had to buy my own toilet paper.

I have been forced to throw out a sandwich I was going to eat, because I was five minutes past “curfew.”  At one place, it was so bad I tried to find other places to sleep, and when my mother came to visit, the owner tried to say I was a “slut.”  I moved out that day. At this same place, a man (who no one could identify, strangely) tried to enter my room at night. Also, the owner’s daughter stole my shoes.

Even a board and care that was run by a pretty reputable mental health company, was a very negative experience. This facility was the best place I stayed, but staff members were often cruel and condescending. Also, you had to be gone most of the day, forbidden to remain in your “home” during the daytime hours.

When I graduated from the Spirit program in Contra Costa County, I looked for a job in mental health. I did not go to an outpatient program any more, so did not have plans every day. Because of this, the very arrogant director said I was being manipulative.

At the board and care in Richmond, I met a boyfriend who finally found me a better place to live, in Concord. From there, I met my husband, moved to a low-rent apartment at Riverhouse in Martinez, and then got a Section 8 housing subsidy.

I am thankful for the great place I have now, with gardens all around it. I will always remember the horrors at board and cares. I especially enjoy locking my door, and knowing I can control who and what goes on in my own home.

Tags: , , , , ,

Society’s Failure to Care Is the Root of Homelessness

In one of the richest places in the world, people become so wrapped up in their own comfort and status that they don’t care about the human beings they are stepping over.

Visionary Art of Leon Kennedy

In Leon Kennedy’s painting, his living friends are portrayed next to long-gone elders and assassinated civil rights leaders. Even death does not shatter the bonds of love and community.

Welcome to Homelessness

The worst thing about homelessness, I sensed, would have nothing to do with bad weather, hunger or sleep deprivation. It would be the way I soon would be cast out like a leper, as though one would contract a deadly disease just from being in my presence.

Big Money Spends a Fortune to Fight Rent Control

Wealthy landlords, realtors and developers have teamed up and are spending a fortune to fight the efforts of renters to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that severely limits the rent control options of California cities. Tenants have also launched rent control campaigns in 10 California cities.

Vicious and Cruel Assault on the Poorest of the Poor

Elected leaders of the national tenants union denounced the housing bill proposed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as a vicious and cruel assault on the poorest of the poor. “Millions will be displaced if these deeply cruel proposals see the light of day. Congress should reject them out of hand.”

The DBA’s Assault on Free Speech in Berkeley

The DBA launched a new poster destruction policy, despite being warned it was unconstitutional by the City Attorney. Tearing down fliers is a textbook example of a free speech violation. No one has the right to make content-based distinctions about what is allowed to be posted or said in legal, public places.