Saturday, June 27, 2009

Call and Response, Part I

Every day we receive telephone calls from desperate people with no place to stay and no money to pay for one. Most of the time those calls go to our property manager, Judy Lawrence who does her best to help people, but she was out on vacation last week, so I had to take some of those calls. I don’t know any way to convey to you either the caller’s distress or our frustration about our inability to help.

I also got the email below, however, and it gives you a better idea of what people go through when they are threatened with losing their place to live. This is the email as it came to me, but with all identifying information about the individual deleted.

Dear Mr. Greenan:

My name is ___________, I am 55 years of age and live in Collin County. I have been on Disability since 5/05. I live at the __________. I have lived here with a friend/roommate/caretaker for over two years. We have never been late on rent.

On April 6, I became ill and was taken to the ER unit at ___________ where I then had a gall bladder removal. It went well and I went home within 3 days. Two days later I became very ill and was taken by ambulance back to Plano County Hospital where I was tested for two days before they discovered I was in renal failure and then I developed double pneumonia. After treatment there I was sent to _____________ for the remainder of my recuperation. In total, I was hospitalized for almost six weeks. I returned home on May 18th.

My roommate/caretaker _________, 56 years old was laid off her job
with ___________ in January and has been trying to find a new position since. She is working with WorkForce and was NOT eligible for unemployment. So things have gone downhill as my income is just under $700 a month before medicare is taken out. I also have a $230 monthly storage fee I pay that holds all my belongings. I have been paying that the last four years.

In May, the apartment complex extended a "Plan" to many of it's struggling rentors where May's rent would be deferred and pro-rated over the following four months on top of the regular rental fees. We were unable to pay the rent and May's portion by the 3rd when we normally pay.

On June 12th, my room mate and I were given a "Notice to Vacate" form saying we had to be out by the following monday evening. Without resources over the weekend all we could do was panic and pack. I have no relatives or children to help. Carla has a brother who just went through triple bypass surgery who is able to lend us $600 in order to get our belongings into storage. From there we have no idea where we are to go. I have called legal-aid and have been informed of the process concerning eviction and what we should expect.

Our landlord just called this morning and said she will be going to court today and serving us. She also kindly said that if we were to vacate by the date stated in the eviction notice she would not pursue the eviction so that it would not be on our records. Which we appreciate and she is happy to do.

At this point, we have one income... my $645, which $410 will automatically be deducted to cover our two storage spaces. We have two small dogs and one car between us. We do receive food stamps thank God. I have checked the internet and made over 80+ phone calls to 211 and
other organizations seeking assistance and housing or temporary shelter with no success.

Where do people in our circumstances go or what can we do. Getting a month's worth of rent really isn't the answer as the following month we would be in the same place needing financial assistance. We are at our wit's end and feel we are not mentally at our best and overstressed to
say the least. It seems seniors with other special circumstances, i.e., Katrina victims, Veterans, Physically Incapacitated, etc. have programs to assist them. What about the majority of us who have worked all our lives, have suffered losses and trauma not within the bounds of these programs... where do we turn? A sound voice and grounded guiding light would be a Godsend. Is your organization in a position to help us figure our futures out?


Tomorrow I will post my answer, which I’m afraid wasn’t much help.

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