Stable Housing Often Elusive

By Charlotte Davis

    I was evicted from her apartment in 2003 because I could not afford her rent due to being laid off from my job at St. Vincent Hospital. I was able to escape the terrible shelter life because Nicole Evans from the Bishop Cosgrove shelter found me a new place to stay.

    I went to the shelter on April 23, 2004 because I didn’t have any place else to go. I tried to stay with some relatives, but that didn’t seem to work out. I first moved in with my sister and her husband, but my sister’s husband didn’t like me staying with them. So I left and tried to live with my mother, but I could only tolerate living with her for a day. The shelter seemed to be the only place for me to go, but it was also the worst place for me to go.

    Before this, I had never of heard of a shelter, let alone been in one, so I couldn’t even imagine how terrible it was to live in. The wake up call was 6:30 in the morning, with everyone fighting to change and take showers at the same time. This was strange for me because I was used to working from 3 pm-11pm, and sleeping later in the day. I had nothing to do and nowhere to go all day long because money was needed to ride the bus. When I wanted to look for housing, the shelter didn’t provide any bus passes.

    I said the food from the food bank was terrible. Milk, cold cereal, and donuts were served for breakfast. At 7 p.m., the people at the shelter were allowed to go to their rooms. But 28 people shared a room with me, and there were only 14 beds whose linen was only changed once a week. The lights were to be off at 10 p.m. for bedtime.

    Evans was able to place me in the an apartment on the East Side of Cleveland, which is subsidized housing. All that I had to do was apply to the apartments and wait for a month until an apartment was available. The person who lived in the apartment before me was evicted because he could not afford to pay the minimal rent for 3 months. Evans had to go through court procedures along with hiring a new maintenance worker to clean up my room because the original worker had a stroke. I was able to move in on September 10, 2004.

   I am on total disability so she can’t work. My apartment rent is $522 a month, but because it’s subsidized housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) I only pay 1/3 of my income. So I pays $284 and HUD pays $238. I am happy with the apartment, because the only time she has to leave is when I go grocery shops. The apartment has everything else, such as washer/dryer, incinerator, outside dumpster, lounge where breakfast is served, mail facility, and parking for visitors and tenants.

   I think that it’s very hard to find housing if you don’t have anyone helping you. I was able to find housing through Cosgrove with Evans’ help. I think being homeless is like having nowhere to go and is very bad. I have seen people look down at you. They have a place and don’t care whether you get a place to live. I think that the shelter is the worse place you can live. To many people, the new housing is fine but the problem is really getting into the housing. You need income and you need someone helping you get into housing.

 Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #67 Cleveland, Ohio December 2004