Note: Like always, for anyone that is in acute medical and/or mental health crisis, please seek attention, immediately from an offline clinically trained medical and/or mental health professional and/or facility.
The problem is, with my above “normal” disclaimer on my blogs, that if one is homeless, and sometimes, it’s the symptom and sometimes it’s the “disease” itself (I’ll elaborate as I go along and for my new readers, sometimes with my complex medical/mental health/ cognitive disabilities, it takes me awhile and a lot of words, to make a point) and it’s the one thing people can be in acute crisis for, but CANNOT get acute care for.
Homelessness does KILL. If it doesn’t physically kill someone, it kills their spirit, both young and old.
No one would’ve ever guessed before 2008, at the age of 38 1/2, that I would become a statistic of sorts. I was in the process of starting my own business in 2005, I came from an upper middle class Jewish family and while I was a pro-active never married single mother of 2, I had worked from my teenage years, for 20 years, I paid for my college education, as I went along, while working full time and I was for the longest time a loving and fully present mother.
However, when things went wrong, for me, they went HORRIBLY wrong. I’ve discussed that in much greater detail, in other blogs. Being physically ill for so long, led to a mental health deterioration, and I gave up custody of my children to my parents and tried to commit suicide in Summer of 2008, which is also discussed in other blogs of mine.
I’ve NEVER discussed though, in great detail, of what it was like to be homeless, at least technically, the two times in my life, that I have been homeless.
And I was luckier than most, those two times that I was homeless. The first time, was in 2008, after my suicide attempt. I ended up, after a 34 day on a psych ward, in the mental health system (2 group homes, one 90 day behavior treatment, the other a long term group home for the chronically mentally ill) in Minneapolis, for 15 1/2 months but had nearly got committed to a long term mental health hospital for my “one and only”suicide attempt, which I discuss in way too much detail, in my first blog, also here on WordPress.
While life in the 2 group homes I was in that period of time, was less than ideal, it was better than not having any shelter in a cold Minnesota winter or being on the streets during any season. I was able to get out of the system, when I got my social security backpay at the end of 12-2009, after fighting for it, for over three years and rented a condo, in the city of Plymouth, MN, an upscale suburb in Minneapolis, where I lived most of my adult life and with my kids. But this time on my own.
So I didn’t enjoy my freedom, because I still was growing sicker with my gastric bypass complications, and I would end up spending most of 2010 on campus or inpatient at Fairview University Medical Center, fighting for my life, until my gastric bypass was reversed, almost 9 years after I had it.
I also found myself technically homeless, when I moved suddenly and it wasn’t my fault, out of a basement apartment, that I was renting from a friend, 3 years ago, at the end of 2012.
I was luckier than most, as in that case, I lived with my boyfriend for 2 months, so I was again, spared being in a shelter or on the streets.
One of my caseworkers in 12-2012, had suggested Aeon, an non profit that provides affordable housing in the Twin Cities and outlying suburbs . The first time I called them, I was told I wasn’t eligible. After perusing hundreds of Craigslist housing ads, this time for roommates (as I had quite a bit of money in late 2009, with getting my backpay, so I was able to live on my own, in early 2010, but my rent at the time was over 1/2 my monthly income) so living on my own without some help, wasn’t going to be possible, when I became homeless, the 2nd time. I had lost my Section 8 certificate, when I lost my housing post suicide attempt in 2008.
I had applied for public housing in Minneapolis,in Spring of 2009 (while still in the last group home I ended up at) and still was waiting, when I ended up calling a 2nd time, in December of 2012, talking to an assistant property manager of where I currently live and made arrangements and gathered the necessary paperwork, to secure my current housing.
For someone prior to 2008, who’s never had a problem getting an apartment, those 2 weeks I waited late December of 2012, were awful, but I knew could’ve been worse, as if I didn’t have my boyfriend to help. I couldn’t imagine how horrible it would’ve been to have to wait in a shelter, or even worse, out on the streets, during one of our cold Minnesota winters, as I wouldn’t ask my parents for help. By then they had been raising my children for FOUR years.
When I found out that I was going to get my apartment, going into the 2nd week of January of 2013, I was ecstatic. And even more so, when I moved in, a few days later.
I didn’t end up getting called from that public housing list, for that 1 bedroom that I applied for in Spring of 2009 until late Summer of 2013, and I was already established in my current home and happy with it. That’s FOUR years, I would’ve been stuck in the system, had I not gotten my back pay.
I still (and will always) have multiple medical disabilities, in addition to mental health, that making living with other people, very difficult. I still vomit a lot. I have severe chronic widespread and localized pain. I have severe daily headaches and migraines. I have anxiety and panic attacks. While my last apartment with my 2 children, it wasn’t so bad, because we had 2 full bathrooms, sharing a bathroom while in the system or when I was at my boyfriend’s house, was really hard for me, even though I can be a mellow person to spend time with and so is he.
But I spend the majority of time, home, alone due to my complex disabilities And I need a lot of quiet, for how chaotic my head clutter can be. And it’s both a necessity and a luxury, given what has happened in the last several years of my life, to be living independently (well with my disability waiver that helps provide services) but in a place that actually cares about my well being.
While my particular property is set up to help low income service sector, there’s others here who are also disabled in different ways who live on my property, as well children. While I don’t take advantage of the on site food shelter and or activities for inclusion, I appreciate that they are offered. We also have a “resident connections” coordinator who has office hours a few days a week on site, that helps with resources for those who need it, who’s there even just to listen, for someone like me, who spends so much time alone, that it’s nice to have someone who cares, as well as to bounce ideas off, of volunteer ideas that I have or if I’m not feeling the best and have been home alone a lot, will listen to me ramble, as it’s not unusual for me to by myself for a week or two at a time. I’ve never had one negative experience with any of the Aeon staff either on site or corporate, in the almost 3 years that I’ve been living here .
I know it takes me a long time to make a point. I’m also nervous because I’m publicly affiliating myself with the non profit that is responsible for my housing. While they know I mean well , with the offline volunteer work and social media presence I have on their sites, I want to represent them, to the best of my ability, even though my thoughts and opinions about anything, are strictly my own.
And being concise and/or thinking and stating things in a logical sequence of order, is not abilities that I have any longer.
I had shared a link last night, on Facebook, of a very well intentioned post by someone who gave a homeless person, recently in Chicago, some new boots, clothing and some food, that’s starting to go viral. While I appreciated the sentiment that both the page and the poster meant, I also know doing that for homeless people, is the equivalent of putting a bandage on a gunshot wound.
This is where I tie the picture above on this blog and the 2nd paragraph. Because I’ve seen so many initiatives such as the bags above for homeless people, and/or other people sharing similar heartwarming stories about making a homeless person’s day by giving them money, buying them shoes, etc.
HOMELESS PEOPLE NEED HOUSING.
They need support services so they can stay in their housing. They deserve to live in decent housing, not slums.
The non profit that owns my housing, Aeon, does this so incredibly well, that’s why the little I can do for them online or offline, I try my best.
And there also other non profit housing/homeless resources here in the Twin Cities, as well as outreach programs and shelters, that try to help the homeless, initially until more permanent housing can be found for them.
A lot more good could come from supporting initiatives that protect the homeless from being on the streets in the first place, than making a bag with necessities and or giving money to just one homeless person, who I’m sure appreciates that more than anything, but it won’t help them survive a brutal winter night, when it’s -20 degrees below zero. It won’t protect the vulnerable who are homeless who are subjected to great risk of being physically and/or emotionally violated.
I could’ve spared you all from reading the first 1200 words before I uttered “HOMELESS PEOPLE NEED HOUSING”, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact.
The fact that I shouldn’t have became a statistic, doesn’t mean that people who had a lot less luck than I have, aren’t any more worthy of housing. Because they are deserving of housing. Some people may have too many barriers to ever be able to live independently, but they deserve to have a roof over their heads and a safe place to sleep at night.
And in major ways, my family backround, my lack of chemical dependency issues but having mental health issues, STILL didn’t prevent me, unfortunately, from becoming homeless. And I was luckier than most, that it DID prevent my children from becoming, homeless.
But I did try to get help when I was so vulnerable and unstable. The system fails families and individuals everyday, in multiple ways, and some people will DIE, because of that.
So yeah, I may get a little snarky, at least in my thoughts, when someone does with the best intentions on social media, posts a “help for the homeless bag” or talks about slipping a $20 in a homeless person’s hand while they’re sleeping (not a safe idea for both the samaritan or the homeless person, for multiple reasons) after going to a fancy restaurant, after a Buffalo Bills game, and while they can buy their tickets and order their food on a smartphone, but can’t resource on their I6 phone, homeless initiatives locally, to best help the homeless.
Not trying to be a witch, just saying there’s so much at stake, because people can die from this and being too nice, doesn’t always work, when trying to get a life or death point, across. Or at best a necessary quality of life, issue. The majority of the deaths for the homeless, could be so easily prevented, if more people put their resources in initiatives.
Just saying, the homeless population could benefit greatly from resources such as volunteers at shelters and entities like the non profit who owns my housing (which I think Aeon volunteers are awesome, thank you!!!) those who donate their time, money, clothing, toys, furniture to both temporary and permanent housing initiatives,wherever you live and if you care, can do the most greater good, for ALL homeless people.
So, while I have not been feeling the best and have been homebound lately, I’m still counting my multiple blessings. Grateful to still be alive. To have my housing. To have the realization that with my complex disabilities, that my life can and has been worse.
So doing what I’m doing with my activism, regarding homelessness, isn’t all altruistic, as I know how lucky I am to be able to do this, from the comfort of my own warm home, but am haunted by the thoughts of ALL the at risk children and adults who will be going to sleep in their cars, if they are a little more lucky and on the streets, tonight.
Locally. Nationwide. Globally…
And my heart breaks for them.
Note: As always, any comments that could potentially be triggering to my readers, will NOT be published. Thanks…..