Janelle has been a guest at Rosie’s Place for almost a decade. She is a single mom with five children, ages seven through 22. She worked with Rosie’s Place’s public policy department recently to feel more confident speaking out for her rights. She gave testimony at the State House about her struggle to find a home that is safe and in an acceptable condition for her and her family.
My name is Janelle, and I’m a single mother of five children. This is the story of how where I live has affected me and my family.
In 2011, the bathroom ceiling of my apartment collapsed on me while I was in the shower. The sheetrock injured my back and neck and permanently damaged my health. I had been doing well with my lupus, and this injury made that worse along with all the new pain and physical limitations. My youngest was a baby, and it made it so I couldn’t take care of my son. I went to physical therapy, but the problems have not gone away.
I have been looking for new housing for almost seven years, but I am still in that apartment. I am in Section 8 housing, and it’s not easy to find a good place for me and my son. He is now seven, and he’s awesome. I can’t let him play outside in the backyard, because there are hazardous materials there. So we always plan trips to the park. Overall, my landlord doesn’t want to make repairs beyond the minimum.
I have gone to different agencies and looked in different neighborhoods, communities and states for affordable housing. Even with the voucher, I’m still at the same location. It’s not for lack of trying or asking for help. I have saved all the money I make, because I will be asked for first month, last month and security in order to move into a new place.
Landlords turn me down with a voucher, even after I tell them how great I am and how great my family is. I show references, too, but the competition is tough, and no one has given my family a chance. I want housing. I need safe, permanent housing for me and my family. I am not going to quit, no matter how discouraged I get. I know the end result will be great.
“In Their Own Words” is a collaboration between Rosie’s Place and Spare Change News.