Friday, May 20, 2011

Technically, I'm Homeless

I'm a prideful person.  It's true.  But there comes a point where you have to acknowledge your situation in life - facts are facts, and the reality is, I'm homeless.

What is homelessness? Most simply, it means not having a home.  But what exactly does that mean? When do you become truly homeless?

Most people think of cardboard boxes, sleeping bags, and shopping carts filled with cans when they hear the word "homeless." But homelessness is more complicated than the common street person, especially in this economy.  Many people are living on couches, floors, or in garages, or tents in yards of relatives because they are no longer able to pay a mortgage or rent.

I'll be honest.  I haven't checked into my eligibility for government benefits too thoroughly.  But the reality is, I don't have any income right now.  I'm here through the goodness of my parents' hearts.  I think food stamps and medicare are probably services I could get.  The problem is, I don't have proof of my income.  I don't have proof of my situation.  How do I explain my financial situation to a service provider?

"Are you working?"
"No." Though I would consider my writing to be something of a job.
"Are you married?"
"Does your husband work?"
"He's a student." Well, except he's not a traditional university student.  He's doing a summer program across the country with BMW which doesn't make him eligible for federal aid. 

I don't have any pay stubs, any check stubs, or anything proving my story.  So what does that mean if I get sick? I don't know.  All I know, is it's not a clear cut place to be. And I don't like it.

Normally I keep my living situation fairly clean and tidy, but since sleeping in my parents' office I can't bring myself to completely put things away.  Part of it is I know this situation is temporary and I don't want to get too comfortable with being homeless. Part of it is that I hardly spend any time there and when I get back to my little room, all I want to do is crawl onto my futon covered in fleece blankets and drift into oblivion.  But it doesn't soothe that part in the back of my mind where I feel adrift.  And I do.  I feel how much I'm coasting.

I think I speak for everyone in my situation, and those who have it so much worse, when I say it would be amazing to have a home.  This is one of the big reasons July can't come fast enough.

P.S. If you live in Alameda County, get hooked up with the nonprofit, EveryOne Home that is working to end homelessness in Alameda County.  They're great people and they do great work.

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