So we are staying in a hotel (motel) on west 106th street and Central Park. The same security guards from Susans place are here with us to do sweeps, better known as room check. We are going to be here for the next 3-6 months, so they say. Susans place is closed due to social distancing. There was over crowding, and with having to stand 6 feet away from each other there wasn’t enough room to move around.
The shelter sends Lunch and dinner by the van, packed in throw away tupperwar. Breakfast they have repacked oat meal, and because everyone has a microwave in their rooms you can nuke your breakfast. My microwave doesn’t work, nor does my mini fridge.
Security comes around every 2 hours to make sure everything is ok. They start checking rooms at 8am. I usually up by 7:30am. I get dressed grab my face mask and a Newport and go out to buy a cup of coffee.
Since getting the laptop, I literally spend my whole day typing my story on the blog and going out for a smoke break and people watch sometimes with a cup of coffee. Alot of the woman sit across the street at Central Park and make small talk, smoke and and enjoy the breeze of Central Park. But there is absolutely nothing to do. The little deli up the block has a atm, they make sandwiches, and have minimal snacks. You have to walk to Columbus to the good deli or Broadway and 107th street to the gourmet deli that excepts EBT.
There is nothing to do, which adds to the boredom of shelter life. Alot of the woman love it here because we have our own rooms. Living in the shelter there 26 woman to a dorm. Its crowded and hot, especially in the winter time when the shelter locks the windows to keep the heat in. Im used to having the windows open in the winter time. But I still sleep under the blanket want wake up kinda sweaty.
Each room has an air conditioner, and a tv. Theres an alarm clock so you can set the alarm or listen to the radio. I don’t know what any woman is doing if they just have a phone in general. Alot of the woman go from inside to outside all day long.
The laundry is picked up Tuesdays and Saturdays. They gave us each a laundry bag with our room number written in marker on the front. You have to have your laundry in the lobby by 9:45am sharp or wait for another day. So when I threw up all over place I threw up on my own personal blanket I brought from off my bed at the shelter. I had to wait to til Saturday because when I went down at 9:30am to drop off my laundry the service had already picked up the laundry.
I have already seen my case manager twice. I see her on Tuesdays at 11:30am. The hotel is nice for what it is. But like I said there’s nothing to do. You cut just switch on the TV. Theres only two Chanels. The news an a Chanel called laugh. I think the hotel is getting satellite.
A few woman buy beer from the deli and go to Central Park and chill. Thats all there is to do. When I first became a client at the shelter, I was amazed at how many woman drank during the day. If your caught drunk they make you sit in AWOL until you sober up.
Alot of my previous clothes where donations. Angel who was 21 was raised in the foster care system. She had mania, and bipolar disorder. She was plus sized so she gave me some of her clothes she had that she didn’t wear, like sweat pants and a pair to too big champion sneakers. I wear a size 9 or 9.5, the sneakers where a size 10. But I was grateful because all I had was a pair of boots I had stolen from a panhandler near Trump towers.
I kind of miss Susans place. I kind of miss waking up to the traffic of the bathroom, and brushing my teeth in the public sink. Or sitting in the living room connecting to wifi. Both my phone and tablet have unlimited data but its just the formality of it all. Im gracious enough to connect to wifi that even though I don’t need to connect, I connect anyway.
I miss sitting and checking my dating apps and listening to the banter of the action going on in the hall way out side the living room, or by 10am going to the cafertria and sitting until its lunch time. When I had nothing but a legal pad and a few pens I would make 2 hours. I would manishily write about anything and everything I could think of, even if there was no body to give it to to read.
At Susans place there are 3 fire drills a month. I kind of miss hearing the fire drill go off and everybody rush outside, even though its a pain in the ass. I kind of miss standing outside smoking a cigarette and watching the garages work on cars outside. Which reminds me of Denise who had lung cancer, and stilled smoked her Marlboro cigarettes. She ended up getting thrown out of The shelter because when her father died she went to Florida to go see him one last time, then he died by the time she got back. She was AWOLED and given another bed, then she left again for the funeral, that when she come back to the shelter they had her things packed they told her she couldn’t come back, that she would have to go to the stadium. The stadium is the worst shelter from what Im hearing. Susans place is one of the better shelters. She declined to go and ended up moving in with her sister who lived in the Bronx, then moving to queens. She already had her voucher and a car she purchased from the garage across the street from the shelter.
She had come back to visit and get her car detailed at the garage. She was also still using the clinic at the shelter till she transferred doctors. Last I saw her was at the clinic when I was waiting for a dental cleaning.
I miss having a housing meeting once a month or the community meeting when we talk about what could be different or changed at Susans place. Its always the bathrooms that are a big complaint. Woman can be nasty, like not flushing the toilet or period on the toilet seat. Theres always toilet paper on the floor or bloody sanitary napkins left behind that maintenance always has the biggest job with the bathroom.
I like hearing about the different housing options, and the current news on cityfeheps, and the questions that the woman have about trying to find an apartment on their own. There aren’t that many choices when looking for an apartment on SSI. Theres no income increase, you get what you get. Its all about the voucher and the 2010e. If you have both a voucher and a 2010e your in luck, your rent is only $125 a month. Most woman who have gotten their cityfeheps have had their case manager work on getting them a 2010e if it wasn’t already approved first. I have a 2010e already. A 2010e is for supportive housing.
A housing specialist found out that one of the former clients had her apartment on airbnb and lost her apartment, and was trying to get back into the shelter they turned her way. If you have a place to go then you shouldn’t be in the shelter. They always give out paper work on the terms and conditions of the voucher programs offered, and other considerations. Theres an oppertuity to move in with family but it has to be approved by DHS, who pays to have you live with family. or you can move out of state and life with friends or family DHS will cut the cost for your air far and living expenses, like pay your room and board. But if you travel outside the state you can’t come back into the shelter. I witness a woman move to Florida, the van took her to the airport.
Then there’s Cynthia, who is disabled and only receiving welfare. She moved into a couples shelter with her now absentee husband. She back at Susans place because her husband abandoned her. She has yet to apply for SSI. I don’t know what the hold up is for her, or who her case manager is, but my case manager wasn’t playing with me and my entitlements. She and ms. smith made sure The I got the telephone conference with SSA. But We care advocated for me instead.
Then there’s Linda who moved in with her son in Harlem. She was disabled with a walker and a wheelchair. She’s on NYCHA’S waiting list for public housing in the Bronx or Manhattan. She left during the fall time. Theres always a turn around in the shelter. Someone is always ready to leave or pack up, like Texas who was a single mother with 3 grown kids back home in Texas. She ended up getting a job so she could rent a room someplace in the Bronx. She was married, her husband was also in a shelter. This is what I don’t understand, why not live with each other. He was working and so was she.
Then there’s “T” who spends all of her income with ssi on food and liquor and paying to get her hair braid. She has long thick hair and she usually has someone braid it in cornrows for her. She’s a big girl standing a 6 feet tall and probably weights a good 300 pounds. She was nice enough to pay Texas to braid my hair in box braids for my birthday this year.
My birthday was so lonely. Besides getting my hair braided I didn’t do anything at all. There was no body to wish me a happy birthday. I bought myself a brownie and celebrated quietly.
Now that everyone is tucked away in their own rooms there’s hardly any commotion. The only commotion is the guards coming around every 2 hours for a dorm check to see if your ok. The guards sit in the lobby. Theres 4 of them. Theres one to sign you in and out of the hotel with your room number. We aren’t allowed to have room keys. So if you lock yourself out you have to tell the guard you need your room door open they come up and swipe the master key.
House keeping comes through twice a week to change the linen and vacuum and throw away garbage that you may have left behind, and put new toilet paper on the spool. We get a towel and it takes about ten minutes for them to clean the room but you can’t be in the room, so I usually go outside and smoke a cig. I just kind of hope that we aren’t here for 3-6 months. Im going stir crazy. Plus Im off my medication. Im doing ok though, but I don’t want to relaspe. I don’t want to start hearing voices again.