A needle and a haystack
Monday, October 4, 2021
I am currently housed at a three-star hotel that the City commandeered to house homeless folk during COVID. I have discussed this in some detail: (1) “Housing note,” 06/10/20; (2) “A solution for homelessness?,” 06/08/15; (3) “Police brutality 1,” 08/15/20.
I have also very recently launched a new initiative to find permanent housing for myself, given that (1) we won’t be in this hotel forever, and when we’re moved out, the new accommodations won’t be nearly as nice; and (2) the logistics of my being here aren’t real amenable to doing The William Tell Show.
As to Rapid Rehousing and Housing First, albeit the City tracks us, in my first ten years of homelessness, not one word was said to me about any opportunity to be permanently housed. At the present housing, I have a case manager provided by the NGO that operates this facility on behalf of the City; I am also involved with a different NGO that administers the City’s Rental Assistance Program. I am going to mince words here, as I may yet have to ask those people for favors. But overall, the system appears to me to be in disarray; there may be issues of competence and diligence; and there have been communications issues between the two parties just mentioned.
Boils down to this: I am on my own to find a place I like, that I can afford, and that accepts the Rental Assistance Program.
I would love to find a place exactly like the hotel room where I am now. I figure this would be a studio apartment and cost about $1,000/month. I even measured the room I’m in, and found that — useful for shopping purposes — what I seek will be about 400 sq. ft.
I lived in a rooming house in the past, where each tenant rents one (1) room and the tenants together share a common kitchen and common bathroom. There can be a lot of drama, and I don’t want to go back to that. I want my own kitchen and bathroom.
My Social Security benefit is currently $994 per month. My food stamps benefit was $234 per month — has been in that ballpark for five years — but given some changes at the federal level, that somehow completely escaped media attention, the benefit was cut, effective October 1, to $30/month.
With the Rental Assistance Program, I will pay one third of my income, and the Program will pay the rest, up to a cap of $1150/month. If my income goes up, I will be paying more rent. If my income goes up enough, I may not need the Program at all.
I’ve been looking for something within walking distance (two miles) of my church.
So, I’ve been shopping on apartments.com. A few days ago, I came across a place I might like, at an apartment building near Boston St. and Patterson Park Avenue; a studio becoming available for $1025/month. As of early this afternoon, I got enamored of the thought of this place; dreaming of getting my groceries and prescriptions at the nearby Safeway; dreaming of taking care of my cat.
A phone conversation with the leasing agent went south. She asked my income, and then said I’m not “qualified” to live in that building. First time in my life I’ve heard of income “qualifying” anyone for anything. I mentioned the Rental Assistance Program, and she said they don’t accept it. They own perhaps a dozen apartment buildings, and don’t accept the R.A.P. anywhere.
Back to square one.
I recalled “Life in the outer darkness.”
I can sublimate my grief into hope.