Like I said before, there’s 200 woman at my shelter. All from different walks of life. Some who have been in jail, some who are married and coming from domestic violence situations, trying to get back on their two feet. Alot of woman are middle aged and accustomed to living in the shelter. Its like a group home, with plastic trays.
A lot of the time the woman are just sit-in around having conversation about when they move out how their apartment is going to look. When I didn’t have anything the banter of the on going conversations would flood my ears. I was so lonely with out Ruby around. That I had my legal pad, I would sit in the living room at the table and write short stories and poetry. I would also write about how I felt being kicked out of the apartment in which I used to live.
Where I used to live was nice. I lived in stonehenge village on west 97th street between Columbus and Amsterdam ave. My apartment wasn’t small for a two bedroom. I even had a terrace. There was a laundry room on premises and a gym for market value renters. I am accustomed to certain things Im not longer going to have access to. Like a laundry room on premises. Im going to have to find a laundry mat to do my laundry when I move.
Stonehenge Village is right off broadway, with barnes and noble about 10 blocks away and a small shopping district on 100th street and Columbus, Im going to miss going to tj Maxx to find little things to buy, or going to star bucks for a frapichino.
I miss going out to brunch with my daughter. I would do this once a month we would get dressed up and go out for Thai food at a Thai restaurant on 100th street and broad way. But events have changed my course of action.
I now live in the South Bronx, the ghetto. An eye soar to what New York City has to offer. Located by the 4 train, I don’t get on the train unless I have to come back from an appointment or to go get something for my profile to move. Im now looking at building my profile for land lords to check me out to be a prospect for an apartment or a share.
A few times I have taken myself out to eat at mcdonlads on burnside. I buy breakfast consisting of 3 pancakes sausage and a cup of coffee and I eat in mcdonlads. This is when I was getting $22.50 every two weeks. Then I decided to save up so I could buy a pair of leggings from rainbow shops on burnside. I take strolls sometimes to look at the not so greener side of the south bronx. There aren’t that many stores either. Besides Rainbows and S and A, there’s a post office, and liberty income tax.
When I had nothing and was wearing high water thick denim leggings and 3/4 sleeve shirts I got from donations, I would stand out side and people watch. I had my appointments set up for the clinic and I would go to my appointments with no phone and just sit and wait to be seen behind the waiting room door of the clinic. The clinic is small, with a dentist chair, two psychiatrist, and 3 physicians, a front desk that is separated by a partition with the receptionist and two nurses.
I see the psychiatrist once a month for my halloo shot. And its the same things every time. He even suggested calling my family, but I deny on the request. I have a restraining order on me. I have nothing to say to my family. I can’t see them and too much time has passed. Then I get my halloo shot and schedule my next appointment in a months time.
When I had nothing all I had was a legal pad, and as I wrote my feelings down on paper, I would say to myself “But who’s going to read this” Who Am I leaving this for. Theres no one to share my poetry or short stories with. Ruby can’t read, and there’s no one else that I talk to.
I would go in the computer room and if by chance I got a computer I would look up how to get published as a song writer. Anything to kill the monotny. I have to say Ive come a long way from just getting $22.50 every two weeks. I joined mailing lists just because and even made a myspace page. I also was on a penpal website to talk to strangers.
I have my New York ID card which I took a trip to Lincoln hospital. I thought I was going to need points at the dmv, but because I lost my identification I was able to just change addresses. I still have the same picture from my old Identification card on my new id with Susans places address attached to it. Its so surreal to me that Im living in a shelter. But like Racheal said, as long as we have a roof over our heads, and clean water, because when I was living on the street I went 3 months with out a shower or brushing my teeth. I was in the throws of an episode which lasted pretty much until the haldol kicked in, which is slow acting.
Its scary to think that I have no one who cares about my where about. No one to check in on me to see if I’m alright. I have my whole set up now, cell phone, tablet, and laptop. I have to think of keeping money on my direct express card so that I can continue paying for my streaming services when my 6 months are up from getting paid my benefits, and the 3 month hiatus. I need to have money to pay my bill at MetroPCS, which is $87 dollars a month. With clothes on my back already and using EBT to buy cigarettes Im not using any cash to buy anything. I am right now because I don’t have a hook up while staying at the hotel. I have to use cash to buy my cigarettes. Im not a chain smoker so I can keep a pack pretty much for a few days. But I have slowed down even more because I don’t want to use my cash to buy cigarettes. I know When I move, Im not going to have the same hook up like the deli on the hill where I can use my EBT for cigarettes. Im going to have to pay cash. Which is why I have Nicolette gum. I had it ordered from my physician at the Susans place clinic, and then a refill from my psychiatrist. Eventually Im going to quit smoking.
When I got my phone and tablet after lunch I would sit In AWOL and watch power. That was a good show. I caught up on the entire show and Then got into orange is the new black. Its hard to manage a little bit of money being deposited on a debt card once a month. I am trying to conserve, but the laptop was a good investment. A portable journal.
Alot of the woman who have laptops use the internet to research apartments or try to find rooms to rent, they don’t want to let the system work itself out. like Yvonne who works for Handy. She moved out of the shelter and into a room on treemont ave, and was paying $700 dollars a month from her $745 in ssi. She made her side money working as a house cleaner. But she couldn’t keep up with the rent, because she had to pay for transportation to and from gigs she got from the app. She’s back in a different shelter because Susans places turned her away, there where no beds available. I forget which shelter she told me she was at, but she too is in a hotel with her shelter. She had called me because she owes me $30 dollars, and was going to pay me back using cash app. She has yet to pay me back. I gave her the money when Abdul was giving me $20 a week when I was getting $22.50 and I had the extra cash. But she didn’t even tell me she moved out of the shelter. She just left. Thankfully we had exchanged numbers before hand.
Yvonne is from Arkansas. She moved to New York because she knew New York would be her home. At 57 she’s a grandmother to 5 grand children. She only has 1 daughter who can barely keep the lights on in her home back in Arkansas, that Yvonne basically hustles a side job outside SSI to help her daughter serve. She even was letting her daughter hold on to her direct express card so she could pay bills leaving Yvonne to hustle her ass off for extra cash. She used the chime prepaid card to get paid from her side jobs. She used to live in Brooklyn and is still using her old address with social security. Theres a problem with doing that, in case your sent a notice to come in to the local offices, its better to just switch your address to your current address and chuck it up as a waiting period when the 3 month hiatus rolls around.
Alot of the woman have payees to their SSI. Meaning someone who maintains there account with SSA. Your payee gets paid and gives you your money. Thats what SSA was going to have me do, but I had an a screening done nd they said I was able to manage my own funds. Plus I didn’t have a payee. Im glad I passed the interview.
Neicey, a woman at the shelter, she has her daughter Tiffany as a payee. Neice’s real name is Sharon, but goes by Neicey. I smoke with her sometimes when. I can catch her. She also goes to a program like Ruby, but hers is in Far Rockaway Queens. She has been in the shelter system for 4 years now. She’s been at Susans place for a year. She gets access a ride which is a program for the the disabled, so you don’t have to take public transportation. They come to pick up Neicey to take her to her program or her daughters apartment in far Rockaway. Neicey plans on gettin an apartment in Far Rockaway to be closer to her daughter. Her son lives in California.
The problem with having a payee is that if social security sends you a letter they are using the payees address to contact you. You can get cut off if you don’t go to the local offices when your called to do a yearly or 7 year annual. They will find you not disabled and stop paying you. Neicey has her daughter as her payee and thats her problem. Im just sitting around waiting to hear that someone got cut off for doing something illegal or against the rules of SSA.
Ruby was about to get cut off when she was using the Brooklyn address. She had updated her information with social security and they sent her a letter in the mail stating that her benefits where going to be cut if she didn’t go to the local office to update her letter of residency.
I haven’t had a problem yet. As soon as quarintine is over Im going to the social security office to update my information with a residency letter. I was suppose to go in May but the offices where close due to coronavirus. So before I get a letter in the mail Im just going to head over to Fordham offices and update my information.
Out of all the little dwellings in Susans place to be the quietest place is the living room. We have cable but like I said before its mandated by the security guards. Your not allowed to sleep in the living room. The semi reclining sofas are comfortable thats I found myself dozing off a few times. I would take my coat and cover my face. Theres only one guard on shift in the morning who doesn’t mind if you fall asleep. Three tables. One long one by the door, a medium side one in the middle and a smaller one by the wok out room. Alot of the time who ever is the hair braider of the month will use the middle table to braid hair. But its usually done in shifts because the living room closes at noon for lunch time. There are outlets to charge your phone, and I have my regular seat by the TV where the most excisable out let can be reached. The living room doesn’t start getting crowed until about 9am. But with on going activities starting at around 9:30am the living room is the second most popular place to sit at the shelter. The first most popular place is the cafeteria. Theres more room.
We have wifi so alot of the woman have tablets and are streaming shows on their tablets or phones. At around 10 am when the cafeteria opens back up maybe half of the space is filled with woman just sitting around. Theres alot of eating and talking going on. Theres a clique of older woman who sit at their favorite table. We have a microwave, which is used to pop popcorn bought from the deli across the street for $1, or bacon egg and cheese sandwiches being eaten. Jacky the chef of the kitchen is busy prepping lunch or diner by 10am.
They have special dinners for the clients of the shelter. Like for thanksgiving we had turkey rice and macaroni and cheese, no stuffing, they didn’t make it. Theres always a non profit organzation volunteering in the kitchen. For Christmas they gave away raffles and we where each given a grab bag with things like the good soap” real maxi pads and socks. Stuffed animals where also given out on Christmas. And for New Years We where able to see the ball drop the kept the living room open until 1am. I was asleep. Things just aren’t the same anymore.
Since being in the shelter There has been two special events thought up by Mecca the activities cordinator. First was a play by a non profit acting team call notchaday which was about the life of living in the shelter or living on your own and dealing with the welfare office or section 8 offices for people who still have section 8. And the second is when spokes people from a shea butter shampoo company came in and gave us retail size shampoo, conditioner, and a bar of black soap. The stuff barley fit in my locker. I used the shampoo and conditioner. Its good for kinky to curly hair. But its alot of miscellaneous to does with the activies cordinator. Its just a bunch of random things that go on and posted about on the flyer board that I know she gets paid $37,000 a year to schedule absolutely nothing. She takes care of the activities now while being in the motel. She’s here every Tuesday with beading, coloring, and word puzzles, and information about job fairs that are open. We still have to see a case manager while being here also. It took two weeks for them to set up shop on the ground floor rooms and turn them into offices. Ingrid isn’t here. Thats my case manager at Susans place. Ingrid is Jamaican and I barely understand what she is saying sometimes with her thick accent, but I used to look forward to going to see her once a week because it was someone new to talk to. She tells me about the cityfeheps voucher and building my profile.
My case manager now is MS. Vargas. She’s nice enough but there’s nothing to do but sign my ILP every other week, and check to see if Ive had any appointments outside the clinic or Susans place. Its about 5 minute visit. When Im at Susans place my appointment with Ingrid is much longer. About an hour. We have to go though what did I do for the week, we walk about goals for the future, and if Ive heard from my family. They have it in the computer system that I have an acs case and a restraining oder. She also keeps track of my appointments at he clinic especially with the psychiatist.
If I need to go HRA she schedules a van request which I absolutely hate because Ms. smith takes a very long time. The wait could be an hour and half. You have to be waiting in the waiting area by 8am, while Ms. smith gets the paper work for the van requests. Its usually about 5 woman per van request to go to HRA at 300 canal place. And once a month for people on SSI to go to SSA for an award letter to give to your case manager. Ms. smith knows everybody so she has to small talk her way around everything she does, there’s a conversation for everything. Then the van has to be taken from the garage across the street. The driver Pauly is a fantastic driver though. But Its a very long wait for him to get established.
When I had nothing not even a phone to keep me destracted, I would sit by the window and watch the woman outside smoking. Ruby has already left for the day. So there was no one to spark up a conversation with. I think everyone knew I was homeless and living on the street, because I did a 360. I went from sitting and waiting for van requests to having ssi and new clothes. Everyone saw when I got my packages from the Craig the receptionist. Alot of the woman congratulated me on winning my SSI, and “god blessed me”.
When I first got to the shelter all I had was a pair of leggings and a tunic top That was given to me by Franklyns woman shelter. I had a ratty old true religion over sized hoody that I wore that I had found while living on the street, and in the dead of summer I had my hair wrapped up in an old pair of leggings thats tore a hole in the croch.
Vernese a woman who has left the shelter to move back into her old section 8 apartment had given me $25 so I could get the things I needed like hair products. So I bought a tub of Hawain silk relaxer and grease for my hair. I also bought combs. I relaxed my hair in the bathroom sink like some woman do, and I had mini crop cut. My hair is growing back from when I had locked myself in petcos bathroom and relaxed my hair in the toilet and cut it off.
Vernese was in the shelter because when her mother died and left her the apartment her uncle decided to start paying the rent and had her kicked out. She grabbed her things and went to a waiting depot in down town Manhattan which transferred her to Franklyn then she was transferred to Susans place. Still receiving SSI and looking for a job with work force. She was able to get her apartment back because she cut off the cable and her brother and uncle left the apartment. She didn’t live that far away from the shelter either. Born and raised in the Bronx she was a product of the shelter with her mother. She was bipolar and receiving $429 in SSI. She was only in the shelter for 2 months during the summer last year, before she made her own personal transfer to a shelter in Manhattan, then back to Susans place and to her apartment in the bronx.
We had become chum meeting up to sit in the park and talk about celebrities. She knew everything there was to know about my favorite person, Diddy, and she would tell me the ins an outs of the personal gossip she aquired while doing her research on Sean John Combs. There where other people we talked about as well. She Told me when I got my ssi to get a laptop. I had shared some of my poetry with her and she said someone will take my efforts seriously.
I bought the laptop so I can have something to call my own. Its not lavish but I want to maintain something. Vernese is the one who told me I should blog, and get an audience and share my story with and online audience.
It can get expenisve if you don’t have your entitlements in tact with the vending machine and smoking that the woman look forward to having their food stamps in place just so they can buy cigarettes. Its a stress reliever to smoke.
Curfew is at 9pm. If your working at night you have to get permission to come back later the 9pm so your accounted for at bed check. Theres no smoking allowed in the building. Why did they have the smoke room to begin with, I don’t know. But when DHS closed it down the woman of the shelter who smoked got very annoyed. But it was explained it was a health hazzard. If you get caught smoking in the bathroom you get written up, after 3 times you get transferred to another shelter. Ruby smokes in the shower, and has yet to get caught, because when she takes her shower at 4am its the man guard is on his shift. He’s not allowed to spot check the bathroom. Ruby is a thirst bucket for cigarettes. She smokes a pack a day, and has terrible CPOD. Her daughter begs her to stop smoking, but Rubys retort is she isn’t ready yet.
Ms. smith now has an assistant to help her with van requests so the van now takes us and brings us back from which ever government office we have to go to. You have to keep a public assistance case open so when your selected to move or your in the moving process rather, so you can apply for a one shot deal with HRA, which pays your deposit and first months rent.
Since being in quarantine and getting my new laptop I have been thinking about the next chapter of my life, and the many phases I have gone through thus far. It was a long haul from having nothing in place to gettin my SSI in February. Theres no one to share a good laugh with or to tell what happened in your day, unless you know or have people to call. I keep thinking Im going to see my mother and have stories to tell her but its not going to happen. Im never going to see her again, or my children. I am literally on my own. I have a phone, and no one to call to say “hey wanna meet up” Or do you want to come over. Theres no one personal in my life that I can confide in, I have to make the best of a bad situation. My gadgets are my friends.
Living in the shelter isn’t that bad of situation. But its the noise level that can give me a headache at the end of the day that I just go to bed around 7pm. But there’s always music playing, or a fight has just broken out that I keep to myself during the day and pray I don’t wake up the next morning. My prayers to Gods ears. but its unlikely that Im going to die any time soon. Im healthy except for have contracting HPV.
Its like ground hogs day thats why it isn’t that bad. You know what to expect living in a dorm like situation. The rules never change. The staff are either friendly or their not it really depends on the person you talk to. The staff make it a point to know everybody in the shelter that its hard for people to do anything suspicious. Plus there’s security cameras.
Thats how I feel being at the hotel. Im looking for things to do and there isn’t. At least Im not bumbarded by the activities and being told to leave the living room because Zumba is about to start. I have been spending many hour on my new laptop sharing myself with an online audience.