Homeless Again?

Yes, you read that title right. I know, I can’t believe it either, but due to circumstances way beyond my pay grade, it’s a distinct possibility.

Reasons? Well, let’s just say the system sucks like that, though my current living situation isn’t exactly ideal. I have a roof over my head, I’m safe, warm, dry and fed.

So, what gives, you ask? Like I said, the system sucks: for the last few years and with the encouragement of my doctors, I’ve been seeking low-income housing for the elderly and disabled, of which I’m the latter.

“You’ve got COPD and diabetes, you’ll have no problem obtaining housing,” my doctors said. They’re great doctors, but they have no idea how the system works. They don’t care if I live on the third floor, and some days, it takes me 20 minutes to get up the stairs, and they don’t want to hear that I live in cramped quarters and, hey, technically I’m homeless.

But because I have a roof over my head, I’m not a priority. So, in order for me to get the help I need, I have to literally be in the street or in a shelter. For families it’s even worse—imagine a family of four or five people having to stay in a cramped hotel room for a year or two. Yeah, it’s like that, and even when you become homeless literally, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get housing any faster. It could be years before something comes up—so much for priority. I don’t need to tell you that becoming homeless at my age and with my health issues is like a death sentence.

Think I’m being overly dramatic? Folks, many shelters aren’t exactly the healthiest places in the world, especially the larger ones. There are no real air filters so you’re always breathing dead air. Many are just uninhabitable: people stay because there’s nowhere else to go. The smaller shelters are better and cleaner but are usually always full.

Many people who know my current situation say to me: “But James, you know a lot of people. Surely you can get someone to use their influence to get you housing.” Yes, I do know a lot of people, but I don’t roll like that. If people step up for me—and they have—I accept their help, but I don’t use people with power to get me a free pass. Maybe this won’t last long. Hopefully not. I’ll keep you posted.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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