What is Causing Widespread Homelessness?

In this day and age to have to rent instead of being a home owner puts you at risk for becoming homeless.  In the city of Seattle some crooked landlords are creating and adding to the problem of homelessness.  Being able to charge higher rents may be the cause.

My story begins in 2009 when I rented the basement apartment from a woman named Hla Yin Yin Waing (aka Wang Helmstetter).  I made the mistake of not insisting on a rental contract, which I will never do again.  Our verbal agreement began with an agreed upon amount for rent and the stipulation that I would pick her children up from school and watch them until she arrived home around 6PM.  That would give me the day to work on my photography business, which I was trying to start after attending fine art photography school.

 

Wang Wang

Unfortunately Wang began asking for more and more favors until I was waking the family up at 8AM, helping get the children ready for school, driving Wang downtown to her job at the senior services center and driving the children to 2 different schools.  I then had to pick them up and take them to their after school activities, come home, cook them dinner and wait for Wang to get home around 9 or 10.  It was a full day and did not leave me time to work.  All of this was done for free and she demanded rent.  At first I could pay with my unemployment money, but when that ran out I had nothing.  She demanded more and more and I felt I had to do it to keep a roof over my head.  I had never  been homeless.

I reopened my unemployment claim and began paying her rent again.  I told her I could no longer be a nanny to her children as I needed to look for work.  That is when she really got ugly.  She intentionally flooded my apartment, which began to smell from the water damage.  She told me when it happened that she was not going to help me.  it was an attempt to get me to move.  She began putting pressure on me about what I was going to do when my unemployment ran out.  She began with holding my mail, coming into my apartment when I was and was not there.  if I had a date or plans she would call me and say she was coming home late.

I finally moved to Denver to get away from her controlling behavior.  My nightmare with her did not end there.  She started a campaign of hate against me stating to people that I owed her money, that I was crazy and convinced people that I need to be held back so that others more worthy than I can fill job positions.

I have mostly been homeless since that time.  I moved back to Seattle in 2013 where I was harassed by Asians on a daily basis.  I was hit on the back of the head on the bus by an Asian man, I was ran off the road, harassed on public transportation and a bus driver refused to pick me up until I started standing in the road so he would have to stop or run me over.  My complaints to police went unnoticed.  Public transportation finally put up signs against harassment.

An elderly couple from my synagogue let me stay with them for a while.  At first I thought it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I soon learned otherwise.  They began emulating my landlord whom I believe they met through senior services where she taught classes on how to do to others what she did to me.  They knew things only she could have told them.  They tried simulating the flooding of the basement, which ended up almost getting me killed as I was going to plug in a hair dryer but at the last minute change my mind.  Had I done so I would not be here now.  I do not believe it was intentional, but the flooding was.

Hla Yin Yin Waing is now the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called the Center for Ethical Leadership.  I believe this organization conducts classes on how to do to others in Seattle what she did to me.  I know this from a Facebook post where she and her organization were recommended for just that sort of thing.

if people are being manipulated into leaving or eviction, that is causing the number of homeless to rise.  She is emulating Ang Sung Suu Kyi the leader of Myanmar who uses the same techniques to control the muslim minority there called the Rohingya, where a genocide of these people is now occurring.

If we want to end homelessness we need to stop supporting organizations that are creating homelessness.¬† Before you donate money to an organization be sure you know what they are actually doing.¬† In looking at the Center for Ethical Leadership’s website the explanation of what they do is vague.¬† Be sure an organization can provide concrete figures and results of what they provide.

Let us make 2018 the year we begin to end homelessness.

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Unwanted Harassment

When it comes to harassment women have a hard time in getting the harassment to stop.  The legal system does not have a system set up that would allow women peace of mind by legally forcing a harasser to stop.  When we have a president who has committed offenses himself there is little hope.

For about 2 years I experienced unwanted harassment from a man and no one would do anything about it.  I asked him nicely to leave me alone to his face at first.  He agreed he would leave me alone and walked away.  However the harassment did not end there.  I ended up going to the police, my rabbis and members of the political organizations to which we both belonged.  I was unable to get help from anyone.  I ended up being treated like I was the one doing something wrong.

What is harassment?

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of harassment is:  to annoy persistently,
 to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.

Being Harassed at Synagogue

In my case my harasser would come to my synagogue and harass me during our Torah study and services.  This happened at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, WA.  I complained to a rabbi and office staff that this was taking place.  They listened to me and did absolutely nothing, even though his harassment was witnessed by others and recorded on video.  Instead I was treated as though I was a pain in the neck, I was unreasonable.  Meanwhile the harassment continued.

The rabbis at Temple de Hirsch went along with the harassment and participated in some of it themselves. I wondered where in the Torah does it say that a congregant who only wants to go to synagogue to pray and attend services should be harassed.  I wondered why religious leaders would teach others, especially young men, that it is ok to harass women if you do not like them because nothing will happen to you and all that will happen is that the victim will be humiliated and embarrassed in public.  I felt I was being punished for standing up for myself.

The problem comes down to money.  My harasser had a lot more money than I do, so he could do more to support the synagogue.  His bad behavior would be overlooked because he donated a generous amount every year and apparently I do not matter at all.  I feel I should have been able to attend synagogue without being harassed.

Using Legal Means to Stop Harassment

I tried using legal means to stop his harassment.  I filed a restraining order.  According to the court the police were unable to serve my harasser.  I went to the appointed court date anyway.  The judge was a man and has no sympathy for me.  He laughed and said nothing would be done.

The Emotional Toll of Harassment

Constantly being harassed by someone you repeatedly ask to stop takes a huge toll on a person emotionally.  First of all for someone not to heed your repeated requests for the harassment to stop has mental issues that need to be addressed.  It makes a person feel unsafe to know that anywhere they go that person may show up.  I felt like I was being stalked.  Knowing no one would help me make him stop made me feel helpless and I began experiencing depression.

In the end it was one of the reasons I moved to California from Washington state.  I think I have made the right choice as the women of Hollywood are fighting back.  They are setting examples and being role models for other women who are experiencing unwanted harassment.  The worst thing a woman can do is to be silent about abuse or harassment.  No one should experience abuse or harassment and the culture is shifting to protect those who have become victims.

 

 

Finding Judaism (Part 3)

After about 3 months of attending synagogue, Rabbi Telrav left Denver for the East Coast.  I stayed at Temple Sinai for a while, but when I got a job as an innkeeper at a bed and breakfast my schedule would make it impossible to attend that synagogue.  I decided to attend an Orthodox synagogue as Reform was all I knew.

At the Orthodox synagogue I met with Rabbi Ben Greenberg.  He was a wonderful teacher and I was happy to have read To Be a Jew which explains the Orthodox rituals.  At this synagogue I attended services with a Mechitza, a wall that separates men and women.  During service the rabbi stood in the middle.  I learned a great deal about Jewish tradition, keeping kosher and observing Shabbat.  When my job ended I moved back to the Seattle area.

In Seattle I wasn’t sure where to attend.¬† Luckily the union I belonged to sent me to an event that was held at a synagogue.¬† Rabbi Daniel Weiner spoke at that event and I decided to attend a service.¬† I really felt at home there and began attending.¬† I enjoyed all of the rabbis there and ended up taking the class required for conversion.¬† I worked on my conversion with Rabbi Aaron Meyer.¬† Rabbi Meyer always challenged me to do more.¬† After 5 years of studying Judaism it was time for the mikvah and to make my conversion official.

Going to the mikvah, a ritual bath, was the most spiritual moments of my life.  I entered the room with the bath alone and took off the robe I was wearing and entered the bath.  Through a screen the rabbis said a prayer and had me repeat it.  I then went under the water once.  Another prayer was said and I went under again.  A third prayer was said and when I went down I knew that when I rose out of the water, after the five years of studying and hard work, I would be a Jew.  It was a moment I can not describe in words.  I felt that I was becoming the real me.

Becoming a Jew has been the most life changing experience I have had.  It has been a positive force in my life and has changed the direction I was going for the better.  I have never worked on something so continuously and with so much enthusiasm.  Allowing faith to enter my life has made me a strong, more thoughtful person.  I thank all who guided me along the journey.

My Time in Latvia (Part 8)

I learned to drink one shot to be polite and then leave any other shots full so they would not refill.  There is no way I could have taught classes with many shots of vodka.  At the time I thought of how strange that would seem to Amveerican teachers, and maybe some would like it.

My students were well behaved, respectful and for the most part I did not have any trouble with students misbehaving.  The only trouble I had was with a student in the 9th grade.  Every day he would interrupt class and get his friends to do so as well.  I decided I had to do something about their behavior.  I went home and thought about some solutions and decided I would give them a try.  I was the mean teacher who implemented a boy/girl seating chart, much to the dismay of the class.  It broke up the group of boys from disrupting the class but one student continued to be a problem.  I called on him to answer a question and he did not understand.  I went on to another student and at the end of the class I asked the student to stay after.  I asked him if he was having a hard time understanding the lessons.  He told me yes.  I told him I would be happy to work with him outside of class if he needed some tutoring.  I did not have trouble with any students after that.

Once I started teaching I had to set up a bank account.¬† The town had one bank and one afternoon I went in to start an account.¬† The woman asked me my name and I told her Wendy.¬† I saw she wrote down Vendija, the Latvian version of my name.¬† I told her the Peace Corps would send my checks to Wendy B…¬† She told me I could not have two names on my account.¬† I agreed.¬† She handed me my bank book with the name Vendija printed on it.¬† I decided it was’t worth the fight and let it be.¬† Most Latvians did call me Vendija, but on legal documents I was hoping to have my actual name.

One afternoon I was walking down the dirt street to the school after eating lunch at home.  As I walked maybe a quarter of a mile I saw a bull standing in a field close to the side of the road.  He had horns and stared at me as I approached.  My heart stopped when I realized there was no fence around the field.