Guest Blogger: Taylar McCoy, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern
In my most-recent blog post, I wrote about the fact that until I began working with Our Front Porch, I had no idea just how difficult it is to become totally stable after living in that type of unstable environment. The difficulties of trying to save money and start fresh, all while searching for house and looking for a job, are magnified with you’re also trying to support children or a family. And unfortunately, there’s other factors that make the recovery process so difficult to navigate.
5.) With the stress having no savings, two sick kids, and no future housing prospects: you also get sick, and you have an emotional breakdown. You have to take a few days off of work for both your body and mind to start feeling better. Because you have only been working at this job for two months and you already had to take off multiple days already to secure necessary documents (needing to go to the DMV, get the CCAP card, go to the Social Security office, etc), now you have a write-up for absenteeism. This adds another layer of stress.
6.) After a month of trying to smooth everything back out, still with no savings and living in a shelter, you get a notice that your daycare is closing down. There wasn’t enough funding to keep it open, and now you how to backtrack and find another daycare that accepts CCAP and your different age-range children. You have to fill out the paperwork and set up a meeting, but they are closed on weekends. You meet a nice woman in the church that will watch your children after school for a week or two while you get back on your feet.
7.) It has been another two months and you have gotten about $2,000 saved and created a budget plan where you can now start affording rent and get out of the shelter! After you find a two-bedroom apartment in your price range (about $1,100/month), you are told that you need to make at least 3x rent. That means that right now you could only afford an apartment that costs $867/month to meet the requirements. You can’t find an apartment in that price range anywhere near your job, the school, or the daycare. It feels impossible to get ahead, even though you are working hard every day.
8.) It’s been another month now, and you are working towards saving up as much money as you can to help your chances of finding an apartment. You have now been in the shelter for over 7 months which has taken its toll on you and the kids. You feel unhealthy because you don’t have a way to cook healthy foods. Most of the food you and the kids consume are shelter meals, fast food, and non-perishable snacks. You feel sluggish and depressed, but you don’t have the time or money to get any help.
9.) The car that you originally paid $1,000 for needs the breaks and oil changed, and the transmission just blew out. The car is useless and would cost more to fix than it is worth. You need to buy a new car and spend $3,500 of your savings. Now your savings is gone, you still can’t afford rent, and it feels like you are starting over again. You apply for low-income housing, but the waitlist is two years for one program, and completely randomized for the second option. You put your name in for the drawing, but so many other people are in the running that it is unlikely you will ever be chosen.
10.) You are hopeless. You feel like you aren’t able to provide for your children, your savings is now non-existent, and you have no housing prospects. The system is stacked against you, even if you have the access and knowledge about resources around the city.
If I would have known how difficult it is to pull yourself out of homelessness, I’d like to think I would have said something to my friend’s dad about his comment that day. I would have told him that “getting a job” doesn’t immediately take you off the street, and that there are so many more factors at play. It’s easy to draw conclusions about how some people become chronically homeless or are holding a sign on the side of the road if you haven’t worked with the population before. Working with Our Front Porch, I learn something new every day. My eyes have been opened, and I hope others will think about the difficulties homeless people face next time before they decide to write someone off as they are driving past.
~Taylar McCoy, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern
Missed Part 1? Read it here.