One Year Home-a-versary

It has been a year since my daughter and I left the shelter after five years of homelessness.
I cannot believe it’s only been one year. We got used to things pretty quickly which surprised me. After all, I was so used to being treated like an animal, being carted off to different shelters, nothing more than a number to the State, that I thought not having to deal with shelter life would be a major adjustment.

Since I already wrote about the differences between shelter and apartment living, I’d like to make this post a thank you letter to everyone who helped me get in here and continues to help my daughter and I. Some are named and others I’ve used initials for because they’ve asked/I don’t know how they’d feel about a public shout out.

First I’d like to thank Ania Bula for helping me with creating and sharing my fundraiser.
I was hesitant to make one at first because I was afraid no one would help. I was afraid poor shamers would question why I was asking for money. I’ve seen it so many times before. Angie and Ania helped convince me and they then helped share the hell out of that link.

I’d like to thank my online group of women and NB friends for always listening to me whine and complain and cry about everything in my life. Why you all haven’t gotten sick of me is a mystery.

Many thanks to Sally S. who drove down to the City when I left one of the many shelters (I was being transferred to another) and helped me move my things. If not for that, the shelter would have thrown away everything which would have meant that when I finally moved into this apartment my daughter and I would have had to start over.

Which brings me to thanking KH, ALS, JF, IDT, SG, YR and many others for the lovely housewarming gifts they sent us.

I’d like to thank all of these wonderful people and their friends (strangers to me) for sharing my fundraiser and story. If not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to raise the money to pay off the apartment fees. We were able to come up with the money in about a day!

I was honestly flabbergasted. I could not believe the outpouring of support we received and continue to receive. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. People who love my daughter. Our first Christmas here, some friends sent us gifts and my daughter was over the moon.

My friends helped keep me sane while I was dealing with getting the apartment ready. They offered their support, ideas and advice.

I’d like to thank several of my artist friends for encouraging me to keep up with my own art. So, thank you to the Artful Scientist, Ania (once again!), AG, CW, APV for seeing the beauty in what I do and telling me. As you know, sometimes we’re our own biggest and harshest critics.

To my fellow single mom friends, thank you for reminding me I’m not alone. Thank you for staying up with me when I was worried I was somehow messing up my kid’s life.

Finally, I’d like to thank my mami for always helping any way she can. She’s the Sophia to my Dorothy and I’m proud to be her daughter. She’s a great mom. I love you, mami.
And special thanks to my daughter TJ. She has been such a trooper. She’s gone through so much in her short life but she always manages to stay bright and bubbly. I love that about her. She’s my favorite person and I’m lucky to have her call me “mom”.

All of these people (and so many others I didn’t mentioned becuase they’ve helped in so many different ways, it’ll be a way longer post)  are always there to remind me to take it easy. To be gentle with myself, reminding me I’m doing the best I can as a person, mom and friend.

Thank you all so much again. I’ll never feel like I can thank you all enough.

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I just feel like my heart is going to burst because it’s full of rainbows

 

One Year Home-a-versary
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Six Months

Today is the sixth month anniversary of TJ and I leaving the shelter. Having my apartment made me realize just how many things most people take for granted.
I no longer have to sign in and out to leave the building. 
I can have guests over.
I can stay out overnight. In the shelters, we had strict curfews and weren’t allowed visitors.
I don’t have to worry about unannounced inspections. It is such a great relief to be able to take a shower in peace and not worry that some case worker is going to barge into the room.
I can have all my possessions with me. The rooms at the shelter had limited space so most of our things were in storage.
I can cook proper meals. I have an oven. I was able to bake cookies for the first time in years. In the shelters we were in, we only had hot plates. Cooking a full meal on a hot plate takes time and a lot of patience.
 I can decorate how I want. The shelters prefered you didn’t put anything on the walls.
I can bring in alcohol. Alcohol wasn’t allowed in the shelter.
My daughter can have sleepovers, she can go to sleepovers. 
We can sleep in. The shelter preferred you spent the day elsewhere.
We decorated for the holidays. 
My daughter has loads of space to play and dance. The previous shelters were so cramped and uncomfortable.
I can buy lots of groceries and fill my fridge. In the shelters all we had was a mini fridge which didn’t have much space.
I have proper furniture! 
Privacy. So much privacy.
I’ve had less stress so I’ve been able to start drawing and reading again.
Depression saps your creativity and energy and I hadn’t been able to enjoy my hobbies in years.
I have a view! It seems trivial, but in the shelters I had one window and my view was the building next door. In the apartment we have several windows and on a clear day the view is pretty great.

Six months may not seem like a long time but it seems like forever ago to me. Every day the fear I’ll be homeless once again, becomes a bit smaller. My daughter tells me she hopes we never go back to “those tiny, yucky rooms in the shelter”.

I’ll make sure we never do.

 

Six Months

No Longer Homesless

Well, I finally moved in exactly one week ago. It wasn’t easy. Almost five years of homelessness and it’s hard getting used to all this space. All the other shelters I was in were small and cramped. I have to get used to having a full-size fridge. I was so used to buying the small size food items that when I went to the supermarket I grabbed those. My friend reminded me I could buy the regular sized butter, I can buy that ice cream! I can finally buy meat and be able to cook it properly. I have an actual, honest-to-goodness stove. I had become so used to cooking on hot plates that I forgot how to work the knobs on a gas stove. There’s so much storage space here. I don’t have to sign in and out every time I leave the building. I don’t have to worry about inspectors barging in. I don’t have a rude and loud neighbor. I feel so bad for the person who is in my old room now. That neighbor was the absolute worst.

Moving day was pretty tough. I had everything ready for the movers. They called me and said they were on their way. I started taking my things downstairs. It was hot and I was sweating a lot. At one point I got stuck in the elevator. I pushed the alarm, I banged on the door. I was stuck for about 15 minutes. I tried using my phone to call the front desk, but because life is cruel, my phone had frozen. Really, it was something out of a comedy movie. I’m finally freed and I hail a cab so I could meet the movers at the storage facility. After moving my things into the van, I then had to take another cab to meet the movers at my apartment building. All in all, it took about two hours to move my things from the room at the shelter and storage to the apartment. There were two movers. One was very friendly and helpful. The other while helpful was inappropriate towards me. He asked me when my husband would come home and he tried to ‘splain to my how I should clean my daughter’s things. I wanted to reply that my husband wasn’t coming home because I killed him, but being that this dude was moving my things I opted not to anger him. Men are the worst, right?

A friend came by and helped me unpack and sort through almost five years of toys and clothes. A lot of things were too young for my daughter so I’m donating them. I’ve taken in half of the laundry to be washed. I still have all the Winter clothing to wash.

I can finally work on applying for disability benefits. My daughter will go back to school soon so hopefully I can as well. Our first night here my daughter kept waking up, smiling and telling me she was excited to be in the apartment, then she’d go back to sleep. She seems so much happier now. We can have her Sailor Moon-themed birthday party. We can have a Christmas tree this year. I baked cookies for the first time in years. Such simple things but they mean so much to us. My first breakfast here were breakfast burritos. I don’t know if it was because I was happy or because I used an actual stove but bacon should not taste that delicious.

I’m so incredibly thankful to my friends and others who donated and shared my campaign. I would not be here in my apartment if it hadn’t been for them. My friends continue to be amazing. Thanks to them I got several things from my Amazon wish list, which helped a lot in setting up the apartment. I will never be able to repay my friends’ generosity. I’m truly lucky.

I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It feels so weird not having any major issues to worry about. Getting in here was not easy, and I should not have had to wait so long. But I’m here now and I hope that this is the beginning of more great things in my life. Again, thank you all so much!

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Image above shows view from my apartment. Trees, some other buildings, a bit of the street are visible. Also visible, lots of sky and clouds.

No Longer Homesless

Deadlines Mean Nothing to NYCHA (UPDATE)

UPDATE Wednesday August 18th, 2015: I got the call today, just like the housing assistant had said. The supervisor I spoke with yesterday had no idea what she was talking about. She made me worry for no reason. I have my keys and move-in date. 

My daughter and I have been living in homeless shelters for close to five years. On Monday, July 17, 2015 I found an apartment in a low-income housing project run by NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority). I was told I needed to come up with 601 dollars by Friday, July 24, 2015 or I’d lose the apartment. I had no idea how I would come up with that much money in a week. My friends suggested I start a GoFundMe campaign. Thanks to the generosity of my friends and of complete strangers, I was able to raise the funds in less than a day.

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On Thursday July 23, 2015 I bought a money order and took it to the housing management office. The housing assistant told me the apartment should be ready within 15 days.  I saw the apartment and it was in need of a few repairs but nothing I deemed too worrisome. Since then I’ve called and emailed the housing assistant every day to find out the progress of the apartment.

On Friday, August 14, 2015 I received an email from the housing assistant saying the apartment should be ready by Wednesday, August 19, 2015. I called him on Monday the 17th, and he said the apartment may be ready by Tuesday the 18th but “not to hold (him) to that”. We had agreed I would call him that Tuesday morning; today. One of the shelter case managers has been in contact with the housing assistant as well, and the case manager was told the same thing.

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I did call and was told he wasn’t in today. I asked to speak to the supervisor. She told me and I quote, “We have no idea when the apartment will be ready. The housing assistant should have never told you it would be ready by Wednesday.” When I reminded her that it had been close to a month since I gave them the money she simply replied with, “Yup. Sometimes it takes more than a month. When the apartment is ready you will get a call to pick up the keys.”

It’s simply unacceptable that I as a homeless single mom, came up with that much money in such a short amount of time lest I lose the apartment and now I have to wait. My daughter goes back to school in less than a month. I wanted to transfer her to the school near the apartment. I don’t know if I should leave her in the school she’s currently enrolled in. If I register her in the new school and I’m still living in the shelter, she’ll have to be bussed. She was bussed last school year. She was a victim of bullies. I do not want to put her on the bus again. But I will be forced to if I’m not moved in before school starts. The bus and train fare in NYC is $2.75 for a one-way trip. I cannot afford 55 dollars a week to take her to school, but she has to attend because otherwise I run the risk of having CPS called on me for educational neglect.

All I want is to move. On August 24, 2015 it would have been a month since I gave them the 601 dollars. They have been telling me “soon, soon” and now this. I feel like the apartment is being held in front of me like a carrot. We’ve been homeless for so long. I have so many plans but I cannot move forward with any of them until I move. My daughter wants to move. She’s so excited about finally having her own room. Her birthday is coming up and this is will the first in our own apartment. Hopefully she can have her Sailor Moon-themed birthday party. This Christmas would be the first time she’ll have a tree. These are simple things but to us they mean so much. My five-year-old suggested we sneak into the apartment and just start living there and if anyone walks in we should freeze like statues.

If I haven’t heard anything about the apartment by September 1st, 2015 I’m going to reveal the name of the housing project, office telephone number and names of the people I’ve been speaking with. I’m tired of waiting and I have to do something for them to take me seriously. NYCHA  cannot jerk me or others around and think they can get away with it.

Deadlines Mean Nothing to NYCHA (UPDATE)

Help me end my homelessness! (Update)

Update: We did it! Thank you all so much!

My daughter and I have lived in homeless shelters since she was a year old. She’s now five. I finally found an apartment in a low-income building but in order to actually move in, I need to pay first month’s rent, security deposit and a fee for fire and carbon monoxide alarms. We have until Friday July 24th to come up with the money, if not I’ll lose the apartment.

We became homeless when we lost our apartment because the City cut the housing programs citing a lack of funds. Since then, TJ and I have gone from shelter to shelter. We’re always placed in a tiny room without much space for a kid to play. Each room we’ve been placed in has been smaller than the last.
The room we’re in now isn’t big enough to have a table, so we ate our meals on the floor. A friend was generous enough to send us a bed tray, so my daughter could at least eat and do her homework somewhat comfortably.

 

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The picture above was taken from the front door of the room. The bathroom would be on the left hand side. Our beds are just around that corner on the right.

 

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This is our “kitchen”. On the left hand side, a box is visible. I use that as a makeshift counter top. The stove has two burners but only one is functioning

 

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This hole has been there since I was placed and they haven’t fixed it.

 

I’ve already seen the apartment. It’s a one bedroom. So it isn’t huge but it is a mansion compared to this room. If I’m able to move in, I’d have space for a dining table. My daughter would have space to play. I’d have a full size kitchen. I miss having a real oven and fridge. I want to cook a real meal. My daughter and I have shared the same space for long time. My daughter would get her own room and be able to decorate how she wants. We’ll have actual storage spaces for our clothes and belongings. She can have a sleep over if she’d like. She’s grown up in the shelter so she didn’t think this was out of the ordinary. But once she began school, she realized something was different. She wasn’t allowed to have sleep overs. She wasn’t allowed to go to sleep overs. Per shelter rules, visitors aren’t allowed here, and she isn’t allowed to spent the night out. She’s realized that this is not ideal or “normal”. I’d like to be able to celebrate her next birthday and Christmas at home. She’s excited about having her own room because she’d like to decorate it with glow in the dark stars (she’d liked to be an astronaut when she grows up).

I’m disabled and cannot work at the moment, but would love to go back to school. Having a stable home would be a huge first step for me. It would help so much with my mental health to know that I and my daughter are somewhere safe and stable.

If you can donate, please do. If not, please share. Every bit helps! Thank you so much!

*link to campaign used to be here, removed since goal was reached*

Sunflowerpunk <3

Help me end my homelessness! (Update)