John Balderson's HAC Diary

January 31 - February 6

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Below is a daily diary of my activities from the time I moved into the HAC until the time that I will be leaving.


Sunday January 31, 1999

An excellent article by Lisa Huriash profiling me and four other Tent City residents is published in the Outlook section of the Sun-Sentinel, and I posted a copy of the article to my Tent City web page at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Valley/5629/SunSentinel/outlook.html.


Monday February 1, 1999

At 6AM I was roused from my cot by the Navarro Security personnel in a light drizzle and asked to move my belongings outside. Since Monday is also a regular day for Tents 1 and 2 to be evacuated because of the city pressure cleaning the parking lot underneath, all other residents were evacuated as well. All residents moving into the HAC were asked to stack their cots up by the guard shack as the city/county was going to throw them out and not reassign the cots or the spaces to anyone else.

To further add to the chaos, it had been announced the previous Friday that Tent 1 was going to be completely dismantled and all remaining residents were to move their belongings after pressure cleaning to tents 3 and 4.

A BCT shuttle bus pulled up to the gate, and by 9:30 the first 20 people, of which I was included, were looking forward to leaving the squalor of Tent City and our new beginning at the $9.5 million HAC. When we arrived, we walked through a metal detector, and were searched with a Garrett handheld scanner, and asked to dispose of any contraband (drugs or weapons), no questions asked, or no one singled out.

We were then instructed to empty out all our plastic bags and other belongings and they were checked by the HAC personnel and repacked into clear plastic bags. We were also informed to take with us only those things that we absolutely needed, as we would be assigned lockers and any remaining items would be tagged and put in storage, with no opportunity for retrieval until we left the facility after our time was up. I chose several changes of clothes, and my Microsoft software collection, as I hope to put my computer skills to good use at the HAC.

Next, we were introduced to the staff, and each resident was distributed delousing shampoo and lotion with specific instructions on how to use it. Although some residents turned their nose up at this, it was only for the health safety of all of us that this procedure was implemented, and I personally did not find it offensive, for if you had been a resident of the tent and seen the poor bathing habits of some of the residents there, you would understand why they needed to do this.

After showering and putting our belongings underneath our beds (real beds!!) assigned to us by the resident coordinator (lockers had not been assembled yet) we ate lunch in the dining room at 11:30, which consisted of soup, salad bar, hot dogs, and fruit punch.

During the intake process, we met our caseworkers, and were given a brief intake, consisting of demographic information for each client, with the understanding that a full intake must be done within 72 hours after arriving.

I spent the rest of the day updating the Tent City web site at the library and came back at 5:30 for dinner, and watched TV on a new Zenith 25" color TV until bedtime at 10:30 PM.


Tuesday February 2, 1999

I woke up at 6:30 AM, and had my first real breakfast in 6 months, consisting of grits, bread, eggs, and coffee. After going back to bed and waking up again at 8:30, as all residents must be out of the dorms by 9:00, I then prepared myself for the day.

In the afternoon, I had a formal interview with my assigned caseworker, and she did a needs assessment on me and provided me with bus passes so that I could go on job interviews.

I also got a complete physical examination from the medical clinic staff (as part of the intake process) and made my regular visit to Clinical Studies for my high blood pressure evaluation study.

I appear in the Sun-Sentinel for the 2nd time in three days, again by Lisa Huriash, this time in the Local section for a n analysis of how first day moving jitters was for Tent City residents moving into the HAC. I posted this article to the Temt City web site at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Valley/5629/SunSentinel/tent2HAC.html.


Wednesday February 3, 1999

At 9:15 I leave to go down to First Baptist Church on Broward Boulevard for monthly clothing distribution, as I had not had adequate time to sort out clothing I really needed for use in job interviews, prior to bagging up by staff for storage on Monday.

I picked up a pair of jeans, toiletry kit, suit, tie, and two dress shirts, and leave the church after services about 1:00 PM. Went to library to continue working on web site and checking out job opportunities on the Internet.

Resident coordinator brought in a VCR and we watched tapes until 11PM.


Thursday February 4, 1999

No special activities, except for asking staff on procedures for seeing visitors,as I was anticipating one at the HAC on Friday.


Friday February 5, 1999

I waited in the lobby from 9AM to 10AM for Jane Musgrave from City Link, who initially became interested in my story after I wrote the response letter to an angry reader in September, 1998 John's Response. Navarro Security fails to tell me that Ms. Musgrave had pulled up to the gate and was asking for me, even though the security staff knew I was sitting in the lobby.

I made later arrangements to meet Ms. Musgrave at the City Link offices in the Sun-Sentinel building at 1 PM, which worked out well, since I had to pick up copies of the two previously mentioned articles from the Sun-Sentinel security desk two floors below, courtesy of a favor I had asked Ms. Huriash.

Lockers were finally assembled, and each resident was assigned a locker corresponding to their bed number and issued combination locks with instructions on how to use them.

Watched videos after dinner until 1 AM.


Saturday February 6, 1999

Had breakfast at 6:30 AM and left early because I was checking out job opportunities in Boca Raton, and stopped to see Payback Simply Irresistible and She's All That at the Muvico 18 Theater in Pompano Beach on my way back.

Watched videos after dinner until 11:30 PM.


                  
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