Simona’s Homeless Experience

by Simona Lynch

In 2012- 2013, I experienced homelessness in Atlanta, GA. I then relocated back to Cleveland and found myself living with family members and friends. After 6 months of unemployment, I finally found a position as an Adjunct Medical Assistant Instructor. Unfortunately, it was only temporary employment and the assignment ended in December 2013.

In February 2014, I considered moving into a shelter because I could not find work, and I was tired of living with friends and family members. However, my cousin told me there was no need for that. He was moving to Atlanta so we could go to the management office and see what would need to be done to take over the leases. The next day I met him at the apartment’s management office and spoke to the office manager. This property was a CMHA property on the Westside of Cleveland. The manager asked me a series of questions and told me a criminal background check and income verification were required. The managers then contacted me once my application was verified.  Everything went smoothly so my daughter and I moved in sometime in February 2014. Fortunately, this was during income tax return season, and therefore, I was able to buy furniture, household necessitates, and electronics.

I felt relieved that the heavy load had finally been lifted off of me. We now have our own bedrooms and personal space, and we don’t have to rely on others or use public transportation; we don’t have to worry about being locked out of anyone’s house, sleeping in cars, and waiting to bathe. It feels good that we can sleep comfortably in our own beds (with no mat on the floor) and not on someone else’s sofa. Also, I eventually gained employment in May 2014 as a health care worker. I am slowly gaining self –sufficiency and plan on keeping it.

Homelessness is not an experience that anyone wants to experience. I must say it is a dreadful, shameful, scary, uncomfortable and embarrassing feeling. However and on the other hand, I have learned how to humble myself and never take life for granted. I keep my financial account personal (no one can empty my accounts), refuse to date or marry addicts who steal from their family, and stay educated on social issues. My daughter is also aware of homelessness causes and preventions. Finally and most of all, I have learned my strengths, my motivations, and my drives in regaining self-sufficiency. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any time and by any cause.

I want to inform the community that not everyone who experiences homelessness is mentally ill, lives in poverty or has a drug or alcohol addiction. Before I became homeless I was a middle class individual. In both Atlanta and Cleveland I lived in suburban areas. The community must educate themselves about the stigma that is homelessness. Thus, I encourage the community to get involved with the fight to help end homelessness in Northeast Ohio.