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You can read my (very true) story by scrolling down just a little. Be sure to visit my blog, and links and don’t forget to shop at the store. All proceeds go towards the cause of getting women & their children to avoid homelessness and to remain or regain a home.
The HPRP ( Homeless Prevention Rapid Rehousing) program was defined to assist families under the poverty level facing homelessness. Over the last two years my family was denied 9 times by the various Santa Barbara agencies in charge of these funds. We were not denied because we didn’t qualify…….
On the contrary, please read on……
It is December 2011
I am a homeless housewife…and here’s my story…………
but, before you read, I would like to take a moment to say this…
There are a number of nonprofit homeless outreach programs that do so much research, sta
My family and I have been homeless for over one and a half years now…..Yet nobody can tell by looking at us…We don’t act, dress, or smell the part. You won’t find us panhandling, or flagging signs. You won’t catch us squatting next to the 7-11 with three open containers. tistic collecting, fundraising, advocating, storytelling and promising….yet nobody follows through with actual assisting.
It may be due to the fact that we don’t hang out at the shelters. You know the ones that house 100s of the stereotypical homeless Santa Barbara locals that randomly get put on the cover of our local weekly paper a hand clutched to a 1/2 pint of $1.75 booze.
In retrospect, we look for work, go to school, go to the grocery store, get gas, walk through the mall, and drive in cars….
…just like 98% of the population. We walk, talk and act just like everyone else.You may have walked right past us and not even known it. We are actors, invisible, like chameleons. We have the tendency to blend right in, not on purpose, or to trick or fool you. Simply because that is who we are. We hold onto every shred of dignity and pride that we have left….
because essentially that is all we have left….
That is ….our dignity,…. and an 8×12 foot storage locker that contains ethereal memories of our past. Memories of a three bedroom, two bath structure that we once lovingly referred to as ‘home’. Memories that tend to fade more and more each day, the longer and longer we go without a roof over our heads.
Most likely that storage locker is now double pad locked by the storage company due to nonpayment, with penalties and late fees that have accumulated into astronomical amounts overnight, with no rhyme or reason, making it nearly impossible to keep.
A storage locker that holds every last bit of our worldly possessions. And though these belongings were once taken for granted, they now represent everything in this world that we hold dearly. They hold reminiscences of our childhood, of our children growing up, of our marriage, of our divorce, bittersweet memories, happy times, and trying times.
But then somehow we come to a realization. These items that remain holed up in that dark and dingy locker just don’t mean that much to us anymore.
We would rather fill our tummies, or pay for the comforts of a cheap motel room, than keep paying for that locker. So we start to sell off these items one at a time. First we sell the old overstuffed armchair that nobody really sat on anyways, next the kitchenware, dishes, pots & pans, and finally our heirlooms, and jewelry from Grannie that we vowed to pass on to our children’s children one day.
We garage sale our belongings, craigslist them, we even EBay and Amazon our personal possessions.
And we do this in hopes of a miracle; a simple wish that remains ungranted,
a wish to go ‘Home’.
See, there are many homeless individuals like me…
We will remain invisible. Not because we choose to, but for a variety of reasons. We are the unseen. Perhaps it is due to our pride, or ego. It could be because we haven’t shown up on television or radio shows. You won’t find us on any ‘Most Wanted’ posters, we are not red flagging ourselves, and we do everything in our power to remain under the radar.
Maybe it’s because we don’t speak up enough, or we are too timid or ashamed or frightened to speak up. It could be because we are not belligerent drunks who, like a billboard, advertise their obnoxiousness for the entire world to view. We are not hooked on prescription pills, or booze. We don’t self-medicate with street drugs and we do not sling dope to all of our friends.
Though we have made every effort to seek assistance, we are unsuccessful. We apply at one, two, three…perhaps even to every single agency that advertise their services. The only result we get is rejection, denial and…
”Sorry, we can’t help you.”
“You don’t make enough money.”
“You make too much money.”
“You were too late in applying.”
“You need to come back again next month.”
“Well, you do have a car to sleep in, don’t you?”
“Oh, it’s warm enough to sleep outside.”
So, essentially we get passed over by agencies and remain not helped, not assisted, but instead we get rejected by every ‘”homeless advocate” agency in town…
And these agencies do not offer alternative solutions for us. Instead, they allow us to walk out their door with utter defeat and no solution to this epidemic disease we refer to as indigence. After a while we become accustomed to their rejection, and simply start to accept the word ‘No’. And we shuffle away with our heads a little lower, with no argument, or defiance.
We start to believe that we are unworthy of public assistance and housing programs. We even get rejected by the shelters.
We hear, “Your children are too young to stay here. They will be influenced negatively by the older homeless men”.
Or on the other hand we hear, “Your children are too old. They will influence the younger children.”
So, while the pot-bellied drunks get clothed, fed, and housed nightly, my family remains parked on some dark side street in 30 degree winter weather with pillows and a blanket, shivering our asses off all night. We don’t really sleep while we are parked out there in your neighborhood, because, believe it or not, we are more afraid of being seen or of getting caught breaking the law since it is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets.
We lay awake worrying about being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police. We lay awake wondering when this nightmare will end. Where will we get our next meal, and where will we go to the bathroom next. Where will we park unnoticed at day break, and where can we sneak into for our next shower without being recognized. We stay awake and worry about these things because in Santa Barbara the law states that if you sleep in your vehicle while parked on a public roadway or parking lot, the police can roust you. They can even nab you for vagrancy, & they will require an actual mailing address, proof of employment, and so on.
Heaven forbid we happen to get a citation for not wearing a seat belt. And though we send in a written testimony in defense, it gets rejected, and we are found guilty. Then the citation turns into an added failure-to-appear infraction and that infraction goes to warrant, simply because we did not have the means to pay for the original no-seat belt citation. Then that warrant gets reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and in turn, the DMV suspends our driver’s license.
At this point, we really never fall asleep at night because just by the simple action of sitting behind the wheel of our car, we have become law breakers and criminals. And when the police finally catch up with us, we get a real treat. Not only do they cite us…(again), but now they are mandated by law to impound our vehicle for no less than 30 days. We are left standing on the side of the road, with a bewildered look of…
“Did that really just happen?!?”
and we question the fact that it is perfectly legal for the civil servants of our community to take away our car & only shelter and what is left of our personal possessions & the rest of our dignity.
We become accustomed to that dark cloud that refuses to dissipate from above our head.
We don’t want to be noticed, so…we remain the unseen homeless…victims of circumstance, who damn well make sure we do not portrait anything but the quintessential perfect family to any unsuspecting onlooker. Because hell will freeze over before anyone discovers our dark, dirty little secret. We have been passed over repeatedly, with not even a blink.
But we want you to know, we are right outside your door. And though you sit in your cozy little house with your cozy little cat, your Sunday paper, and your bunny slippers, we need you to realize that you may be next.
They say that the only thing that’s sure, is that nothing is sure.
So, take heed, and don’t take your comfort for granted because in an instant, your world can change.
One more piece of advice…..
If you seek assistance from your local homeless service providers one thing is certain………
You will REMAIN homeless.
I am The Homeless Housewife. Please feel free to email me with any comments or suggestions at HomelessHousewife@Hotmail.com