The shelter sits on the corner of Hoover St. and Adams Ave in South Los Angeles, right down the street from the UCLA campus. Housed in a 2 story old house that was at that time run by the Catholic Diocese of LA. The daily administration was run by a purported former crackhead (from what other women in the shelter whispered), a black mid-40’s appearing, rail-thin woman, Marilyn Ross. An arrogant, conniving & manipulative female version of what I imagine the Reverend Jim Jones was like at the end of the failed, maniacal CIA-funded pogrom that was Jonestown. Oh you didn’t know? Yes, the Guyana experiment was JUST that. A failed experiment and now being revealed as being funded by US tax dollars. Now where does that sound familiar? um, yeah. lol..ok, so this woman was part sophisticated educator (she said she had a doctorate.don’t know if it’s true, but that’s what she said and referred to herself as Dr. Ross)..and part street hustler. She could pretend to be charming. But it was never QUITE convincing. She always gave me the creeps and my spidy senses went off when I first met & spoke to her in her office at the house/shelter. Or maybe it was the shelter itself.
The house was old and falling apart. The plumbing was bad and always stopping up. As I recall, there were about 5 or 6 partitioned bedrooms that generally housed anywhere from 4 to 5 women each in single twin beds. Of course, the shelter received federal funding for each woman they provided housing to; and Dr. Ross also required that if we were not already receiving food stamps that we sign up for them soon after entering the shelter. And once we became ‘residents’ she requested that we relinquish any EBT/Food Stamp cards to she and her minions, um, assistants at the first of each month. This, amongst many things, didn’t sit well with me. This requirement meant that we also had to give our pin numbers, which according to the card (and I actually read it)..violated federal law. But beyond that, I just didn’t think we should have to give our food stamps to her. Maybe if we volunteered, I could see it. But I didn’t like the mandatory part. I personally never even ate in the shelter dining area. I don’t even think I ever even peeked in there. I bought my own food at the grocery store down the street and prepared it; so I definitely didn’t feel she had the right to ask me provide food for a dining room I never ate in. Again, the shelter was already receiving funding for each resident so my spidy senses went off. It was also said that while the food in the dining area reflected the fine cuisine you’d expect in a dump like that; purportedly, she and her adult children, who were frequent visitors to the shelter since Ross lived in 1st floor living quarters; were using the resident’s EBT cards for their own personal use. I have no way of corroborating that. But it was said on more than one occasion by different women. We received the use of one wall locker type storage unit for our belongings and that was it. Tight quarters, to be sure; but it was decidedly better than sleeping on the streets of LA. Or so I thought at the time.
Quite a few of the women were obviously on psychotropic meds and always looked spaced out and out of it. Most of us were I would guess in the 35-50+ age range. Most were also black and latino. There was a general gloom that hung in the air and I don’t think it was solely because the place was decked out in early 70’s Sanford & Son decor. Think an Iron Curtain era Russian orphanage. Yup. That’s about right. Spooky. And Ross was even creepier. And a bit of a power freak. She would summon all of the women down to what was the tv room where most women would congregate in the evenings and chat and watch tv and movies. I wasn’t in the shelter but maybe a month or so and never really socialized down in the room but on the days that Ross would demand we come to what were termed mandatory ‘meetings’, as a resident, i really didn’t have a choice.
Now let me describe these so called ‘meetings’—let her tell it, these were supposed to be meaningful chats and info sessions meant to afford us the opportunity to get acquainted with each other and for us to bring up any important issues in the shelter we were having. Again, let her tell it, that’s what they were. Now from MY perspective, they were something else totally. First of all, they always happened in the early am hours, say, 2, 3 or 4am, unGODly hours..we were basically, forced out of deep sleep and forced to come and sit while this woman then droned on for what was usually, I kid you not–2, 3 & 4 hours. Talking about nothing. I guess this bitch fancied herself doling out profound life ancedotes and advice…but the kicker is that we couldn’t leave and there was no give and take. We literally were a captive audience. Now at the time that I stayed at this shelter, I just didn’t like her. Didn’t have anything to do with her purported past drug addiction; there was just something about her, that seemed ‘shady’ to me so I was always guarded with her. Suffice it to say, I hated these mandatory ‘fireside’ chats but did not realize til waay after, in fact, years later, once my auditory harassment began in 2010 and I started researching online–that the tactics that this woman employed: forced awakenings and hours-long speeches that capitalize on ‘sleep deprivation’..because we were in fact, sleep deprived by having our sleep interrupted like that regularly.., I realized then that this is STANDARD practice in cults for brainwashing and programming. Did I mention again that this shelter was RUN by the Catholic Diocese of LA?