Another couch house has appeared across the alley. A week ago, a new abandoned couch showed up in the spot occupied by the Happy Hour Couch until mid-October.
From the time I first saw it, this couch has rotated from the sitting to the shelter position, and it has acquired various signs of occupancy: a suitcase, a foam pad, a chair, blankets and an empty Doritos bag. Nearby a blackened spoon gives evidence of drug use.
These neighbors put Peace House in an awkward position. We are open to all. But the meth users and drug traffickers who swarm around each other do not contribute to the peace, and our haven risks becoming associated with them if we tolerate their presence.
Drunks, at least, tend to have only a brief spike of belligerence and fists are more likely than firearms to break out over the purchase and possession of vodka.
On Thursday, a father spent most of the day at Peace House hoping to locate his 19-year-old who occasionally stops in. "P" uses a female name and appears to be transitioning, but the pronouns used on the street are imprecise. The father left without success.
Later that evening two community members found "P" and called the family, staying with her until they could get there from the ex-urbs.
While waiting, the two homeless men took turns making the case for getting off the street.
Mel, who had a rough time as foster child, talked about how lucky "P" was. You've won the lottery with foster parents who adopted you and care for you and are still looking after you. Go home tonight and give it a try. If you come back here, it better only be to see how things are going at Peace House. If you go back on the street, I promise you I will call the police every time I see you doing anything.
Curt talked about the dangers of using. This is no place for you. This isn't the suburbs. You're dealing with people who'd just as soon shoot you as look at you. You come back here using and you're going to die one way or another. I don't want to see your death certificate.
The next day, Mel and Curt told me about their small victory. Around noon, as our community members finished talking about the restorative power of music, a citizens crime watch group reported a response to a suspected heroin overdose on our block.