29 May 2009

Six-Dollar Trust

Celia came in, shifty eyed, and asked to speak with us in private. We shut the door.

"I want to let you guys know that when you give people $6.00 for police reports for housing at Dwelling Place, they reimburse them when they turn it in. Sometimes.... sometimes people just apply for Dwelling Place to get the free $6.00. Don't tell anyone I told you. I just thought it was something you should know."

Yes, Celia, we know. We've known.
Dwelling Place subsidized housing properties, many of which are located in or near the Heartside area, require that each applicant present a copy of their criminal record, provided by the Grand Rapids Police Department for $6.00. We have, and will continue to, assist individuals with this $6.00 fee in order to encourage the process of applying for subsidized housing, a great option for the Heartside population (your own room surrounded by the same community). The Dwelling Place office has the same idea--they will pay back the $6.00 fee that someone pays for their police report.

When we discovered this, we tried to work out a system with Dwelling Place in which they refund us for the money for the report, if we were in fact the initial funder. It has been a strangely difficult process, and we finally agreed that if a Degage staff member (myself) turns in the police report on behalf of an individual, they will refund it to us.

So. We currently rely on patrons to return the police reports to us (so that we can turn them in) even though they know they could do it themselves, and get the money. Everyone knows. My 50% success rate makes sense--it's better than nothing.

I went through this routine with BobbyJoel last week... "I will write a check to the police department for your police report. Please return it to me, and I will turn it into the Dwelling Place office for you" .... please?
BobbyJoel saw it.
"Anna, I know why you want me to bring it back."
I know you do.

The next day, I found an envelope on my desk from BobbyJoel.
'To Anna. Thanks you. BobbyJoel.'
Inside, there was six dollars.
The first six dollars I have ever recieved from anyone for a reimbursed police report.

Later, BobbyJoel told me he turned it in himself because he wanted me to know that I could trust him.

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