“Appearances Are EVERYTHING”

What others see

While appearances may not be EVERYTHING, they certainly can mean a lot.  You would not show up for a job interview in a dirty shirt with a stain on the front pocket.  In doing so, you would likely be sending a message to the employer that you don’t care about yourself, and you don’t care what the employer thinks about you.  

Driving a certain car, wearing a certain hat, coat or shoes, having a tattoo or braided hair etc. are all ways of telling those around you something about yourself.  Your apartment is no different.  How you choose to live tells a story about who you are.  Some people are very neat and orderly, while others are less so.  Some choose to immediately pick up their dirty clothes or dishes after using them, and others would rather do this task at a later time. 

When you live in a program with other youth, you soon realize that your apartment is only as good as the weakest link.  It is therefore necessary to hold everyone to the same standard.  That standard is Daily Clean and all times’.

 

Deep Clean –vs.- Daily Clean

Different Levels of clean

Daily Clean refers to the expectation that your apartment will be picked up and orderly at all times.  In addition, laundry will be done (see Laundry below for more detail), beds made, personal belonging stored (see Bed & Closet below), trash taken out, appliances wiped off, walls and floor free of dirt and debris (see Living in a box below), toilet, sink & shower wiped down (see Bathroom Nightmare), and any new damage reported to staff (see “It was like that when I got here”). 

 

Deep Clean refers to a much higher level of cleanliness.  While most people who own their own homes deep clean only once or twice a year, you are expected to do so each week.  Because of the high level of traffic in the program (people in and out), and the tendency to let things go, it is important to stay on top of each apartment in order to maintain a healthy, clean place to live.  Each week, all youth are expected to spend additional time in each area until it is brought back to original form.  This is a mandatory part of the program, and could result in consequences to individuals or entire apartments if not complete.  

 

Personal & Common areas

Whose area is it?

Living with a roommate can either be a great experience or a pain in the rear.  You will find that almost everyone has a different idea of what is considered clean.  In this program, staff will determine if the standard is being met.

 

When an apartment is checked for cleanliness and/or damage, it is typically broken into two areas, personal and common. Personal areas are the areas that you alone are responsible for maintaining.  This would include: Your bed, closet and laundry.  Commons areas are the areas that you share with your roommates.  The kitchen, living room, bathroom etc., are all considered common areas.  While common area chores may be given to individuals, ultimately, everyone will be held responsible for maintaining these areas.

Living in a box (floors, walls and ceiling)

Think of the room as a box

A dirty apartment can feel overwhelming and lead to frustration and anxiety.  Sometimes when you are looking at a big job, it is easier to break it into a smaller, more manageable size.  Think of each room as a box.  The box has a top, bottom and sides.  In this case, the ceiling, floor and walls. 

  1. Is the ceiling free of dirt and cobwebs? 
  2. Is the floor free from debris, dirt and loose items? 
  3. Are the walls free of dirt, handprints and damage? 

Once you have cleaned the box, you can take a closer look at what is inside the box.

 

Your Bed & Closet

Getting personal

There are a few places within the program that are personal and belong to only you.  In this case, these areas are your bed and closet. 

  1. Your bed (and the area under your bed) should be kept neat and orderly.  Your bed should be made up any time you are not in it.
  2. The items on your nightstand should be neat and orderly.  These items should be limited to an alarm clock and a few other personal items.
  3. Your bulletin board (the only place you are allowed to display pictures or wall decorations) should be kept neat and appropriate.  If you are not sure if you should display something, ASK FIRST!
  4. Your closet should hold all of your clothing and personal possessions.  Any thing that cannot be stored in your closet should be boxed up for temporary storage.
  5. Laundry baskets are stored under your bed with your dirty clothes.  (See The Laundry below). 

You will be held personally responsible for these areas and the condition of the furniture we have provided for your use (i.e. bed frame, closet, mattress, etc.).  Damage to these areas will be charged directly to you.

 

The Laundry

Laundry Basics

You have to stay one step ahead of your dirty clothes.  It is very easy to put off doing your laundry until a later time.  It doesn’t take long for this poor strategy to come back and haunt you.  There is a fixed number of washers and dryers (one per apartment), and a lot of people who need to use them.  Note: Washers and Dryers are sometimes being repaired, and you may have to ask to use the equipment in another apartment.  This can also create a problem if you have a lot of laundry to do.

Each student has a laundry basket.  This is for your dirty clothes, and should be kept under your bed.  Once the basket is full, it is time to do a load of laundry.

Please refer to the Health and Safety (Module #1) for more information on laundry.

Bathroom Nightmare

Who likes to clean the toilet?

I don’t know anyone who enjoys cleaning a toilet or a shower after they use it.  This is especially true when someone else made the mess.  The condition of the bathroom can quickly make or break your room score.  Nothing will ruin and decent staff score faster than a dirty toilet, sink, or shower. 

1.    Clean as you go!  If you are in the shower, take a moment to wipe out the dirt.  The shower should always be clean, including the shower doors and caulking.  You will need to periodically use cleanser to remove dirt and mildew from shower surfaces.

2.    After using the toilet, use toilet paper to wipe of the bowl rim before flushing.  The toilet should be clean inside and out.  Use the toilet brush inside the bowl, and a sponge and cleanser on the outside.

3.    Use your hand towel to quickly wipe up any water that has splashed out of the sink while washing your hands.  The sink and counter surface should be kept clean and dry at all times.

Store your razor, toothbrush and other hygiene items IMMEDIATELY after you use them.  This is a great habit to get into.

 

Who are you cleaning for?

Why clean at all?

Do you every wonder if you would clean if someone wasn’t looking over your shoulder and giving you a score each day?  After all, cleaning is such a pain, and no one likes to do it.

While this may be true, it doesn’t make it any less important as an independent living skill.  Not unlike managing your money, keeping track of your appointments, or getting up and going to work each day, maintaining an apartment tells a story about your readiness to transition into independent living.  Your ability to demonstrate (or not demonstrate) a clean living environment (on a daily basis), will directly impact how you will move through the program, and when you will be ready to leave.

It should also be noted that the owner of the Haag Home for Boys facility (Mr. Haag), requires that the grounds and all apartments be kept clean and maintained at all times.  Mr. Haag has put a great deal of personal investment into this facility, and our ability to continue using these buildings relies heavily on maintaining the condition of each apartment and the grounds to his standards.

The Kitchen you love to hate (note: kitchens are not provided in some apartments)

Everyone likes to eat

It seems that no one has a problem getting out the dishes, cookware, and food at midnight when they get hungry for a snack during a good movie.  This motivation however quickly subsides when it is time to clean up the mess. 

An apartment with a kitchen area is an incredible perk to an independent living program.  The ability to allow students to learn to menu plan, shop and prepare meals for themselves is an essential part of moving toward community transition.  Unfortunately this has proven to be the single, toughest area to maintain. 

Garbage, food, dishes and general crud is jeopardizing the continuation of this part of the program.  It is critical that the kitchen (and food handling) be given the priority that it deserves in order to continue as part of our independent living curriculum.

Kitchen Rules (this is a common area and belongs to everyone)

1.    Food should be put away and stored appropriately in a covered container at all times.

2.    There should never be any food left out on the counters, appliance surfaces or other areas.

3.    Beverage containers should be rinsed out with water immediately after use.

4.    The trashcan should be taken out anytime that food has been thrown away.

5.    All food should be covered in the refrigerator.

6.    Counters, appliances, walls and floors should be wiped down and free of food and debris at all times.

7.    Dirty dishes should be rinsed off and placed in the dishwasher immediately after use.

8.    Clean dishes should be put in the cupboard immediately following a clean cycle.

9.    Empty pop-cans may not be stored in the apartment.  They should be moved to the recycle bin once empty.

10.  There should be no pots or pans left in the refrigerator.  All food should be moved into an appropriate storage container, and the pot or pan washed and put away.

 

“It was like that when I got here”

Damage to your apartment

While it is understandable that from time to time accidents may happen, there is no reason that damage not be immediately reported to staff.  There is an added incentive to report damage as soon as it occurs.  If a youth accepts responsibility for damage to the apartment, he will be charged only for the parts used to repair the damage (providing that the repair can be done by the program maintenance person).  If damage is unreported, the cost will be shared by all roommates, and will include the labor (often substantially more then parts) to repair the damage. 

When you move into a new apartment (like in real life) you should do a “walk-thru” and point out any damage that exists.  This is the only way to protect you from sharing in the cost to repair or replace damaged areas.  By not completing a ‘walk-thru”, you are taking responsibility for any damage that occurs as of the time that you move into the apartment.

 

You’ve been EVICTED!

Consequences for not meeting the expectations

In real life, a decision to not clean and maintain your apartment could result in the landlord asking you to leave (or eviction).  A landlord has an investment and/or responsibility to make sure the apartment; house or complex in which you live meets a certain standard.  Until the day you are in a position to purchase your own home, you will always be expected to maintain your living area according to someone else’s standard.  Our standards are determined as follows.  Consequences for not meeting the standard are also listed below.

 

Your apartment score

Each day you will receive a score for how well you have met the cleaning standard for that apartment.  Scores are based on a rating system of 0-4, with a score of 2 indicating, “meeting a minimum standard”.  Scores below a 2 will have to be corrected immediately to avoid further consequences. 

Not every apartment has the same requirement.  While one program may only require a score of 2 or higher on a daily basis, another program (such as the ILP program) requires a minimum score of 3 or higher.  It is your responsibility to know what standard you are expected to meet.

Consequences

If your apartment does not meet the minimum standard, you will be asked to correct the problem area(s) immediately.  This is typically the only consequence needed.  Unfortunately, for some this will not be enough.

Once a problem is determined to be a ‘repeat behavior’ (an undesired behavior that happens over and over again), it is necessary to increase the consequence so that the correction can be made.  Here is a list of typical consequences in the order that they are likely to occur.

1.    You are asked to correct (or clean) the area(s) that do not meet the minimum standard.

2.    You are restricted to the property until the correction is made.

3.    Your level is lowered for one week and you have to correct the situation and reapply the following week.

4.    You receive a letter of non-compliance, outlining the problem to be a repeat behavior in need of immediate attention.  This letter also goes to your parole officer.

5.    You are moved from your apartment to a lower room apartment (used for new students and low level youth).  You will pack all of your belongings for temporary storage, and demonstrate compliance for a specified period of time before returning.

6.    You will be notified that you are a ‘Program Failure’, and your placement at the Haag Home will be terminated.

It is important to remember that not unlike the rest of your program, you are expected to 1.) Learn the skill, 2.) Demonstrate the skill, 3.) Maintain the skill over time.  These 3 simple steps will be your quickest road to transition and freedom in the community.

Note:  You will be required to complete this module again in the future any time you are determined to be in repeat violation of the Room Cleaning standard.

Now, Please Complete the Apartment Cleaning Checklist.

 

 

Room Cleaning 101 - Worksheet

1.   What is the standard for room cleaning?  That standard is Daily Clean and all times.

2.   What does Daily Clean refer to?  Daily Clean refers to the expectation that your apartment will be picked up and orderly at all times.

3.     How often are you expected to Deep Clean?   You are expected to do so each week. 

4.   Who determines what the room-cleaning standard is?   In this program, staff will determine if the standard is being met.

 

5.   Give at least two examples of Personal area and Common area.

 

a.   Personal area:  Your bed, closet and laundry. 

b.   Commons area:  The kitchen, living room, bathroom

 

6.   When should your bed be made?  Your bed should be made up any time you are not in it.

7.     Where are you allowed to display personal pictures and decorations?  Your bulletin board (the only place you are allowed to display pictures or wall decorations)

8.     What should you do if you have personal possessions that do not fit in your closet?  Your closet should hold all of your clothing and personal possessions.  Any thing that cannot be stored in your closet should be boxed up for temporary storage.

9.   How do you know it is time to do your laundry?  Once the basket is full, it is time to do a load of laundry.

10.                What is the quickest way to ruin a good room score?  Nothing will ruin and decent staff score faster than a dirty toilet, sink, or shower. 

11.    What does maintaining an apartment tell others about you?  Maintaining an apartment tells a story about your readiness to transition into independent living.

12.    What is the expectation of the facility owner, Mr. Haag?  (Mr. Haag), requires that the grounds and all apartments be kept clean and maintained at all times. 

13.    What is the Kitchen rule about food being left out?  There should never be any food left out on the counters, appliance surfaces or other areas.

14.    When should the trash be taken out?  The trashcan should be taken out anytime that food has been thrown away.

15.    What is the kitchen rule about food in the refrigerator?  All food should be covered in the refrigerator.

16.    What is the kitchen rule about dirty dishes?  Dirty dishes should be rinsed off and placed in the dishwasher immediately after use.

17.    What is the kitchen rule about pots and pans, and the food that is in them?  There should be no pots or pans left in the refrigerator.  All food should be moved into an appropriate storage container, and the pot or pan washed and put away.

18.    What is the advantage to immediately accepting responsibility for damage to your apartment or the facility?  If a youth accepts responsibility for damage to the apartment, he will be charged only for the parts used to repair the damage.

19.    What will happen if you do not complete a  ‘walk-thru’ prior to moving into an apartment?  By not completing a ‘walk-thru”, you are taking responsibility for any damage that occurs as of the time that you move into the apartment.

20.    What is the minimum score that you must receive for room cleaning (in the regular program)?  A score of 2 indicating, “meeting a minimum standard”.  Scores below a 2 will have to be corrected immediately to avoid further consequences. 

21.    What is the minimum score you must receive for room cleaning (in the ILP program)?  The ILP program requires a minimum score of 3 or higher. 

22.    What are the 3 skill steps that you are expected to complete?  It is important to remember that not unlike the rest of your program, you are expected to 1.) Learn the skill, 2.) Demonstrate the skill, 3.) Maintain the skill over time.  These 3 simple steps will be your quickest road to transition and freedom in the community.

23. Why might you be asked to complete this module again?  You will be required to complete this module again in the future any time you are determined to be in repeat violation of the Room Cleaning standard.