Saturday, October 17, 2009

Funding Grant Received to Transition Homeless

I am happy to report that I am no longer tweeting from my TwackBerry (in part because it is broken) and that Spotty and I are now in our very own apartment!

I am to thrilled to have a place to plant butt on the floor (no bed yet) but to watch Spotty curled up next me in the morning, purring as if nothing ever happened, I hardly notice how hard the floor is beneath the single top sheet that I have been sleeping on.

This brings me incredible relief. I thought she was broken. I thought she would be scarred for life. But Spotty has adapted better than expected. She is miraculously calm and almost unaware of how close we were to being.... how close she was to not being saved at all. Sadly no one came forward to Please Dave Spotty. I must find a place to balance my anger and disgust for all who poked fun at my campaign to save Spotty.

To be perfectly honest, I had given up hope that I this moment would come. The simple joy in having a place to call home. So yes, I can breathe. I can love. I can express joy. And relief, and should feel some sense of “pride” that it was me who did it. Against all odds, and should feel empowered that despite the barrage of the added stress fixing errors that I did not make; ultimately I was the one who has to find some oasis in this complete and total government fuckuppery. Complicated further by unforeseen, unforgiving, complications from my past, I did what I needed to do to set myself free. Did it work? Yes and no. Do I feel free? Yes and no. Do I feel a sense of pride and dignity? Yes and no. Will I ever feel safe and truly at home? Probably not.

But I will pretend for now that none of this matters. I will pretend the fraud and abuse is gone for the time being, so I can try to make it through the hour with a sense of ownership, self-efficacy and hope that for one day, my life is not interrupted by uninvited guests or complications so I can take a few hours to feel some relief as together we move towards a sense of stability....

Unfortunately, I can still feel the wolves circling outside the door. As I try to lift myself up from the darkest depths of despair, I am racing against the clock to collect pieces of myself lost along the way. Of critical importance is recovering all the documents that will allow me to stay here-- as I am under review for social security, DHS, social services, and of course, the MDHA (Metro Development Housing Agency) for Section 8. This requires proof of income, identity, and countless other forms and documentation that are difficult to keep track of when you don't have an address or a place to keep them safe in an unsafe environment.

A few days ago, I found out that all of my belongings had been were placed into garbage bags, and thrown into the very same flooded garage outside the house I had rented from a CMHA (Community Mental Health Agency) that was funded, in part by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and special funds under the Recovery Act of 2009. I used to work as for SAMSHA, and I know enough about the law to realize that the lack of supervision and intervention at the house I rented is not only against the rules, but should be considered a crime against humanity.

The "landlord" did nothing to prevent or intervene and actually encouraged such behavior as he knew it would force me out of the house that was clearly a threat to my safety and well being. The three women who should be jailed for the countless times they complicated the situation by locking me out, unplugging my phone, disconnecting my computer cables, and destroying my property "just for fun."

What he did take issue with was the very fact that I was writing about my circumstances, especially the more disturbing times when I was when I watched the other residents become violent, and dangerous towards each other, and in time towards me. One nearly assaulted with me with waffle iron; One locked during a tornado warning, and one was simply too intoxicated to make a telephone call when five shots were fired down the street. To prevent from calling mobile crisis to intervene, me personal telephone was disconnected, the electric cables and power cords were unplugged and ultimately broken, and when I needed to call 911 even the house phone had disconnected by the woman who claims ownership by proxy of the entire household. Yeah, I’m the problem.

To add insult to injury, the day after my belongings were moved into the flooded garage, I learned that the agency received a grant to help transition the homeless. I'm not quite sure what to do... but I think there needs to be a stop gap measure somewhere, and if that makes me a "rat" so be it, but no one, and I mean NO ONE should ever be subjected to the things I witnessed over the last six months while I paid rent, yet lost everything as I was locked outside by the residents, while disposed of my food, kept from my medicine and destroyed property by repeatedly moving into areas of the property that were known to have flooding. The originals are destroyed; the ink from the notarized copies bleeds into the paper and can no longer feed through the scanner without getting caught in the feed.

Centerstone should probably know exactly how the “landlord” is doing business, and SAMHSA may be interested to see exactly how that grant money to help transition from homeless is being spent.

I hope to pick the remaining items sometime son, and can only hope that I have what I need to move forward, and find the piece of myself that used to care enough to volunteer at the family shelter; go one more round in the fight for social justice; explain the need for equitable funding and share facts and research with those who need it… I encourage others to support social welfare programs to empower youth and the disenfranchised... I encourage others because I’m not sure I have what it takes any more. Not the skills, the passion. The drive.

Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. I guess the bottom line is that maybe I can't.

Perhaps the significant loss was the faith I had in human decency and kindness. I also lost considerable respect for nearly every person I know as they watched from a far (or a near) and failed to do anything to "stop the madness" I must confront the fact that so many things got lost in the 6 months it took to get here.

There were so many along the way that provided golden opportunities for someone to step up and be a hero. Not for the publicity or to grand stand, simply to be a hero to one woman who was caught in the vortex in a vicious downward spiral: homeless, helpless, hopeless.

So many faces, most of them of them strangers, would pass me by not knowing g of my story, my fear, or my sadness and isolation. They would chat me up at the park, the library, some place I could use Wi Fi for free, and I would feel almost human for a few hours.

Several hours later, I would find myself sitting in the parking lot hours after losing, tweeting my ass off in the pouring rain with nowhere to run to and no place to hide. Only then could you see the broken dreams of a woman marginalized into the shell of a person I had become. Broken. Completely broken.

To be continued….

1 comment:

  1. First of all: I'm so happy that you're now at home and that you found a place where you can keep Spotty. Because she needs you as much as you need her, and I think the main reason for her adapting to the new circumstances so fast is that YOU're there with her.
    You're TOGETHER, and you are HOME.
    And I believe that this will give you the strength to keep fighting, Elyssa. Now you have a safe base, you have Spotty with you, and you've got so many people caring about you and willing to support you in your ongoing struggles.
    I might be terribly far away, but you can always catch me in the virtual sphere, and though I might not be able to do much, I'm always ready to listen and share.
    Keep fighting and keep writing, Elyssa. The world needs people like you more than you'll ever know.

    Much love, Mya


Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.