Dedicated to the Homeless (Seen and Unseen)
On August 21, 2015 I officially stopped being homeless and moved into a one-bed room apartment that is MY home.
On June 22, 2015 I became a part of another statistic. Quite frankly it’s getting kind of irritating. No. I was never in a shelter, or street homeless. I was a part of the homeless that are invisible and terrified of what hitting bottom really means. The homeless that have no fixed address, but someone else’s home to sleep in—someone to be beholden to.
Those sleeping on the couches of friends, families or people who pretend to want to help us—are homeless. Suitcase dwelling was difficult and riddled with anxiety for me when I was staying with someone and her family. It was even lonelier and harder for me once I was moved to a hotel paid for by the government agency that assists those who survive domestic violence with temporary shelter.
When I was forced out of my apartment because of the poverty pimps that prey upon the marginalized with mental health struggles and who have a “criminal history” I joined the tribe of the homeless. I started a journey that would lead to suitcase living that lasted exactly two months.
The hotel where I was housed was in a pretty shady neighborhood. To get to public transportation, I had to walk ¾ of a mile—which is nothing. However, I had to walk over a bridge that abuts a wooded area and this is where the street homeless live. Each morning as I headed to work or to appointments the first thing I saw on my walk was a man’s closet, bathroom and bedroom. It was a reminder of where I might end up. It was a reminder for me to be grateful and to not give up.
Getting free from suitcase living has been difficult and terrifying. Although I always had a dwelling, I was a part of the homeless population in DC because I had no fixed address. And everyday as I hunted for an apartment and was rejected time after time the clock was ticking and I was terrified that the man I saw each morning was foreshadowing as to my new home.
Yet I am lucky. I am surrounded with love from people who owe me nothing. Other than my niece, I have received no support from any other family member. I sit here amongst my things and I know how vulnerable I was/am and so many came forward and fought for me with their privilege, words, power, honesty and steadfast support and belief in me.
However, I continue to struggle with feeling safe and secure because so much has happened and every step forward seems to send me 20 steps back.I am slowly unpacking because I am terrified of feeling at ease.
Tonight, I finally put all the dishes away. Yesterday I set up my baking rack and most of the books are living their lives on their shelves—but I do not have enough bookshelves. My friends sent me hundreds of books during my incarceration (to add to the hundreds that I was missing) and they are with me—these books from incarceration are a part of me. And I will soon find shelves for them to live upon.
The clothes are struggling to slowly make their way out of the suitcases and bags. The shoes are still in baskets and my leaning bookshelf laptop desk sits empty. I am afraid to set it up and write my stories on it. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Still I have been getting up every morning and thinking there is much to do. There are so many who are silenced. There are families living in motels that are in shady areas because this is what the City thinks they deserve. There are men and women in bushes bathing with jugs of water and sleeping on dirty mattresses that are on an incline. There are women and men rotting in prison with mental health struggles and no advocacy and help.
Then there are the poverty pimps that had the audacity to ask my advocates why I feel entitled to a place of my own. We are all entitled. Each and every one of us is entitled to quality, safe housing, enough good healthy (and unhealthy should you desire it) food, clothes, shoes and medical attention that is preventative and holistic and so much more—like Compassion.
I listen to fake nonprofit poverty pimps and jackass politicians and government employees sitting on their Good Government Job (GGJ) Asses and pissing all over the poor, hungry and/or those “convicted of crimes”. And often they quote the Bible—true story the poverty pimps I encounter often tell me what great “Christians” they are—to justify spouting hatred and cutting benefits and assistance to the most needy and I want to remind them that deeds speak of your faith not hypocrisy.
“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Yes, I just quoted that! Read the Book of James. And then hide your faces in shame. Just. Equal. Fair. Society. For All.
T, E, D, W, A, E, J, C and S your unwavering support for me and all the others that you carry with you in your hearts and fight for—put the F in faith for me. Your works are alive and I am a testament to how you all use your gifts. I keep moving forward because of all of you. I take nothing for granted and feel honored by your gifts.
Amme Voz (remember I am Episcopalian) 🙂