1.5 years has passed…

A year and a half has passed since my last psychotic episode. I have been in the shelter for a year and 2 months, with not much progress on finding a place to live, it’s been a learning process.

I have learned that your credit score is your foot in the door. I spent reclessly in the past, with opening 26 different accounts in retail credit. I have to blame my impeared judgement on my diagnosis, I was under the assumption that I could just get section 8 outside the city; and make the big move upstate on an income of $733. $781 isn’t that much difference. The problem is I’m damaged. Im not a good candidate to rent.

My income profile won’t do me much good when it comes to landlords and credit checks. I’m a failure at living.

I was trying to be an adult with credit. I didn’t want to be looked down appon because I didn’t have new gear. I wanted my daughter to look sharp when she went to school, like I had it like that. Money wasn’t an object. I wanted to spoil my son with what I could because I was a single mother bargaining with the government for a hand out. Praying that one of the two father’s would pay child support and not make my life ugly, I paid no mind to the voices I heard.

I was the one who was poverty stricken, and now even more so. I cant believe that I’m homeless was the first thought in my head when I was living on the street. No body cares. I lost my parental rights and a place to live. But I wasn’t paying the rent on the upper west side. My concern was making sure I paid the prorated cell phone bill every month, and overdrafting on my bank account on paying the minimum payment on the cards I could finance.

Now I live like I can’t waste a dollar. I know I splurged and invested on a laptop but it will carry me far. I am proud to say I still have money on my direct express card. But I have no one to share my excitement with. I’m virtually alone.

I have yet to make a friend outside the shelter. Have only a few people I say hi and bye to, it’s a lonely existence to think and know that my mental health caused me to loose my rights as a mother. There are no do overs or second chances when it comes to reconciling with my family.

It’s been a year and a half since I was hospitalized and diagnosed schitoaffective. The loneliness time I experienced was Christmas and then new years. My birthday was January 4th, I had no one give me a card or wish me happy birthday. It was just another day. So I bought a brownie from the deli with my EBT card and celebrated alone.

I have gotten through the hard part which is getting back on ssi. The 5 month wait was killing me. I for sure thought that I would be denied and have to appeal the decision.

Now I have an income,which proves nothing. Only that I can afford to continue living in a shelter.

I am going to end up in a group home or in another shelter and shelter hop my existence. I have no friends from the past to say hi to, and with my Facebook closed I lost all of my relationships I did have which where filled with false hope and expectations.

The only things I’m greatful for now is having a roof over my head, but I wish every night that I don’t wake up in the morning. I’m riddled in depression. I’m happy that I have some money in my pocket but that too comes with a price to pay.

The goal and main objective is to support myself and live with mental illness. I don’t have to make sure my kids needs or wants are met anymore, which was a big part in why I took out so much credit. I was amazed that I was getting approved. I never not once thought I could loose everything.

It never dawned on me that I could have an acs case or be evicted. A learning curve is what I call it. I literally still have nothing, and when we get back to the shelter it’s back to routine and sharing a room with 26 other woman.

My mind is flooded with uncertainty. Where am I going to end up?

A year and a half went by fast.

The staff of Susans place

The staff make it a point to know names and faces. They are very good at placing the woman in dorms and making sure the clients have what they need, even ifs a bar of soap.

The shelter runs like a well oiled machine. The director is always in his office working with the buildings maintence workers to prepare for a Callahan inspection which is every 6 months, and making sure that there isn’t any paint chipped in the wall the maintenance workers do a good job cleaning up behind the women of the shelter, especially in the bathrooms where it’s always wet from the cascade of shower water.

Most of the employees are woman. Which makes me feel a little bit more safe, not that I have anything to worry about.

The dorms are mopped once a week, and the walls washed down by the PA’s because the dorms get dusty.

The PA’s take turns with facilitating the laundry room which is open every 45 minutes, then closed for an hour. There sometimes in an argument about why they lock the laundry room, but everybody seemly waits their turn or waits patiently outside in the hallway for the laundry room to open.

There’s even female security gaurds who periodically check the bathrooms to make sure that no body is smoking in the stalls. The only way to get away with smoking in the bathroom is smoke in the shower while the water is on to disapate the smell of smoke.

The bubble is run by ms.courney and ms.joanne one of the two supervisors. They maintain order for the dorms, and if there’s a problem in your dorm they will switch you to another dorm. They also take care of new attendees of the shelter, placing them in dorms and making sure that they have a bed.

There’s the activities coordinator, Ms. Mecca who usually comes in by 9:30am. It’s her job to coordinate with non profit organizations who want to donate time in the kitchen feeding the homeless, or she helps with trying to get clients to attend Zumba class or the writing work shop. Which I find boring. I’m not dancing and I attended one of the writing work shops which is help by a librarian from the local library. Your task is to write a short story, or try writing a cover letter for your resume if you are seeking employment. Everyone is given a curtasy library card. But trying to find the library is a task in itself. It’s a ten minute walk away from the shelter and I still have yet to find it with out getting lost. It’s on University Ave.

There are the case managers and housing specialists who are in the social services office by 8am. The days effortlessly pass by, one day turning into the next. It’s the same thing eveeyday, and it’s ms.meccas job to make sure the clients have something to do, even if it’s only for 45 minutes. Time donated by personal trainers, and a holistic yoga instructor. There’s always a reason to move out of the living room space. There’s even a talk group, where you talk about your feelings while being given breakfast snacks like donuts or crumb cake. Ms.mecca doesn’t want the clients just sitting around watching the ion channel.

By 10’oclock the cafeteria is open but the TV isn’t put on until after the group sessions are over in the living room. So alot of the woman take the time out to eat boiled eggs that where left behind from breakfast of eating their own breakfast that they have purchased at the deli.

There is always someone from staff around. The security stand post in the cafeteria, and Ms. Dansberry is always on the clock to check the cafeteria and the hallways to make sure things are productive.

The medications room is open 3 times a day on a set schedule for woman who have medication being delivered by the outside pharmacy vendor that the shelter uses, or you can go to Jerome pharmacy which is up the block and across the street. Usually the woman who are familiar with the Bronx and have outside doctor appointments use the pharmacy on Jerome. There are plenty of woman who use the free clinic and have their medication sent to the medications room.

The staff are friendly enough but there’s no one to coddle you. We are treated like adults. There’s no body to tell you look nice or give you a hug. You make friends with the other clients or you don’t, it’s that simple.

There’s always talk about special events going on at dinner time, like for Christmas and Thanksgiving the staff put out maroon table clothes and center pieces on the table.

For Thanksgiving we got a slice of pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple pie with whipped cream with our Thanksgiving dinner. There where volunteers to help serve the dinner. For Christmas we got a slice of chocolate or strawberry cake with our dinner. For at. Patrick’s day we had a Irish feast.

The shelter is always trying to make sure we have something nice to look forward to. Only a few woman like myself don’t have family and are starting for scratch. But I’m not friends with these woman.

The staff are stern and demand respect from the clients. It’s nice to know that I’m not just another face in the crow of 200 woman. If I need to be found they find me for my next appointment with my case manager when I have to sign for the appointment slip.

The days pass by rather quickly. The longest point of the day is from 2-4 pm. Everyone is either outside doing something or chillin in the cafeteria or the living room. Ion, ID , or bet are on on either tv. And there is to do is sit and wait to be placed.

SSI

SSI is minimum wages. It’s $7.25 an hour full time if you where working with out taxes. It’s paid once a month on the first of the month, not every two weeks.

Woman get excited when they get a direct deposit from SSA. But in no means can anyone survive off SSI income. You really have to budget yourself accordingly.

When I got backpay all I was thinking was I have to withdraw money from the atm and be hit with a surcharge of $2.50 per deduction from my direct express card. I’m loosing money. But it took two days for me to withdawl $1500 dollars.

I spent the rest paying my cell bill and buying clothes for myself. I literally had nothing. Abdul was kind enough to take me to the thrift store across the street from the shelter to buy me some clothes, but they barely fit. I was uncomfortable in the clothes I had in my locker.

Now I have clothes to wear, but that doesn’t stop my feelings of depression or my feelings of guilt. It’s nice to have been awarded SSI now I don’t have to really sorry about a source of income but I still have to worry about where am I going to live future tense.

It’s nice to have a phone and tablet but I’m just living day to day and waiting to be excepted someplace. It’s not even someplace affordable or someplace safe. It’s someplace on $781 a month. There’s no more cola increases which was every year a $25 dollar increase on ssi.

I’m saddened by the way my life has turned out, but at most I have a roof over my head, I don’t have to sleep in the train station or in a bank vestibule. I don’t have to take hand outs for food anymore or get money from strangers. Even though I was full blown psychotic I was aware of my surroundings.

There’s nothing like having ssi. It’s like a cushion to being on welfare.

Shelter savings plan

60% of your income has to be set aside every month. It doesn’t matter of your working or receiving SSI.

Welfare isn’t a source of income. You have all your needs met if you play your cards right. Down to detergent and fabric softener for your clothes, everything you need is at your neck and call.

Alot of woman spend money on detergent and fabric softener sheets for their lockers. Things that don’t really need to be bought.

Outside food is being brought in because the menu does in fact get montonotous. But I’ll be damned if I run out of money now more then ever.

The shelter savings plan is a good idea for when you do move you have a cushion to fall back on. A few woman who really don’t have furniture in storage or other options don’t complain about putting money away for moving day. You have to finance yourself so getting a bed is priority, that new renters are told to buy air mattresses for their new apartment when they get approved.

I just feel as though I’m never going to get a chance to furnish an apartment. I’m going to end up in furnished room in a group home, or be a product of my environment. I’m really not going to be living off $781 a month it’s more like $320 a month for six months. Then there’s a three month hiatus.

I can’t just buy whatever I want for six months, I literally have to think about paying my cell phone bill for 3 months in advance once my 6 months are up which is why I’m cutting down and quitting cigarettes. Cigarettes are an added expense.

I also have to have money on my card for one streaming app not 4 or 5. I spoiled myself a little. I was giving myself the option of changing channels.

All shelters have a savings plan in place, because with SSI you can’t have more then $2000 dollars at any given time unless they specifically direct deposit you.

So far with my income profile I’m up to $1500 dollars in savings. Ruby has nothing. Her case manager doesn’t make her get a money order. Most of Ruby’s money goes towards cigarettes, buying panties, and shopping. Her locker is filled to the gills with clothes and perfume that she has a laundry bag filled with clean clothes by her bed. She runs out of money quickly because she also let’s Fenisha borrow money from her.

I now live on a stipend for mental health issues, and although it’s not enough to buy my way out of debt it’s money in my pocket it’s indepence from having to live on $45 a month, and saving up for a pair of pants. In the next five months I plan on having enough money to cover myself for the three month hiatus. I don’t want to loose the number I do have with metro PCS. Like what happened to Ruby when she couldn’t pay her bill she had to reactivate her phone with a brand new number. It costed her $60 dollars and now her bill is $70 dollars a month from her $45 dollars. And she says my bill is too much, I didn’t tell her I used to pay $500 a month. I should have just kept a metro PCS phone and conserved my energy. But I had to keep up with the jones. I had to have an iPhone. I had to have a service plan. I learned my lesson big time.

I could have easily went to sprint and gotten a prepaid phone but I would be paying alot more.

I like the phone that I purchased and the tablet for reading. I have insurance on my account just in case something happens I only pay $50 dollars for a new device. Sprint didn’t offer that.

The shelter saving plan is a way to teach the clients how to conserve money for the month, I don’t think alot of women realize that when they are buying detergent and keeping it in their lockers.

The unscented generic detergent is just fine with me. It’s hypoallergenic not that I have any allergies but it’s a hard rinse and gets my clothes clean.

The lottery- housing opportunities

Andrew cuomo is who we,the homeless have to get in contact with for more housing opportunities and increasing rents. The homeless are oppressed. There are 76,000 homeless people in shelters in New York city.

We are not applicable for all new housing dwellings being built around the city.

I’d be just be happy if I could rent. I’m not complaining that I can’t get into a rent controlled apartment. I’m looking at supportive housing opportunities and group homes,those are probably my choices.

It’s slim pickings for those who qualify for an affordable apartment. Sometimes it’s in a new building with an an elevator but most women get moved to five story walk ups in the ghetto or rooms. A share is when your living with a stranger in a two bedroom apartment. You share the common areas like the kitchen and bathroom.

You don’t always have a say so in where your being placed unless your willing to wait in the shelter for another year.

There’s an interview process for everyone renting even supportive housing, a credit check and background check is done to everyone renting.

I’m screwed royally. I completely fucked up my life and my choices. I don’t have the freedom to complain. I have to bite the bullet and pray I even get a group home or live in scattered housing where it’s private rooms with case managers who come check on you.

Where are we going?

My daughter was 3 years old, and my son was 13 when I was first hospitlized. I had $100 dollars in the bank that was supposed to be for a student loan payment towards Mandell school of allied health. I had a bank account with Bank of America.

One day I packed up some pull ups, two bottles of water, and got myself and my daughter dressed to go to the park. I had an I phone 3 that Cory had purchased me, and I was going to take my daughter to the park.

By the time I we got outside the building I decided that I was going to take the $100 dollars out of the bank and take a cab to queens. A voice in my head said that 50 cent would be there to meet me. We had no food, just two bottles of water and pull up diapers.

The alerts where going on off on the phone, and I thought that 50 cent was sending me cryptic messages telling me to meet him at my old high school. It was summer time and schools had already let out for the summer.

I hailed a cab and took it to 187-30 grand central parkway in jamacia estates. It was 11 am in the morning. When we got there I paid the cab $50 dollars plus a $35 dollar tip, I had $10 dollars left in my pocket. When I saw that the school was closed I ended up walking with my daughter to no where.

Even though I had attended school in queens I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t know the area of Jamaica estates. There where no stores just a little park down the road and plenty of houses. I didn’t have a metro card just $10. My daughter was in very good behavior, and followed me where ever I was taking her. I ended up at a church, where I changed my daughters pull ups. We had been walking for some time and where lost in queens. By the time I found the air conditioned church, It was almost 4pm. I had already bought a sandwich for me and my daughter to eat and Iceys. I had no money left over. I had thrown my iPhone away when Ging texted me to see where I was at. She had been in contact with my mother who thought I ws at the park for too long, and went looking for me, and had called Ging to see if me and my daughter where with her.

The cops had stopped me when I was sit-in outside a bodega. I was sitting on the steps and they asked me if I needed to go to the hospital or needed a ride somewhere. They gave my daughter a bag of barbequed lays potato chips and both her and I got in the back of the squad car. I thought there was cryptic messages everywhere. I told them that my uncle lived in springfield gardens and I gave the cops the name of my uncle. (My mothers brother) and one cop googled the name and his address came right up. The cops drove us to the location. we all got out of the squad car and The cops rang the doorbell, but no one was home. The car was in the parking garage behind the gate of the house, but no one was home. The cops left me and my daughter in front of my uncles house. So We sat on the porch bench. We stayed there over night and had fallen asleep sitting up.

The next morning my daughter asked me “where are we going” She missed home. I had no idea. My aunt and uncle never came back. and if they did what was I going to tell them. I didn’t even think that when I gave the cops his name that I would have to have a reason why the cops where bringing me and my daughter to his house for no reason.

So we left the porch bench, and walked left. I had loose change in the bag I was carrying that was filled with pull up diapers. The bottles of water where finished, and all that as around was a bus stop with the bus going to JFK airport.

We walked passed a deli, and then there was a park so we went to the park for a little while. By the time noon hit, My daughter was getting cranky. “When are we going home” ? I told her that we would be going home soon.

My son was in the Poconos with his childhood friend who’s parents had a house out there so he was gone for the weekend. Shortly after staying the park for some time, I saw cop cars. So I walked over with my daughter and asked if they could give me a ride into the city, I was told that it was out of their jurisdiction and asked if I needed a hospital. I told them no, but the cop offered to drive me and my daughter to the train station so I could get back on the the train to the city. I told him I lost my wallet and had no money. They assured me that they would be able to get me on the train.

So I ended up taking the F train to 47-50th and getting off the train and walking with my daughter to Trump tower. I bummed a cigarette from someone sitting on the steps of the building. And we just sat there. The Bad boy world wide building was across the street. And I felt like I was getting messages from unknown voices that I was going to be alright, I could publish for bad boy when I got home.

My son wasn’t back from the Poconos when I got back home with my daughter. I don’t even remember how I got back home. I think I must have skipped the turnstyle and gotten back on the train with my daughter. The B and D trains where right up the block from Trump towers.

When I got home, my father and mother where in the living room. My father was furious. My mother took my daughter and got her something to eat and gave her a bath. My father wanted to know where did I go, who was I with, and why didn’t I call if there was a problem. He said you know you can always call me if you run into a problem. I told him I was in Queens at a friends house.

My father called the ambulance and had me admitted for a pscyhiatic evaluation. I didn’t want to go with the EMT when they arrived. But I had no choice. First I was admitted to Roosevelt hospital then transferred to ST. Lukes hospital on 114th street and Amsterdam. I was in the hospital for two weeks.

I had to change in to the uniform of the psych ward which was blue pajamas. I had to take my bra off and wear biodegradiable underwear. I had my period so they gave me thick no name brand maxi pads. I had showered in cold water and brushed my teeth by the time I was given a bed at clark 8. The psych ward was a co ed so both men and woman where there. I had had a room to myself with my own bathroom and shower.

I was put on resperione, and diganosied bipolar type two. My parents had to come to the hospital for a meeting with the psychologist, and visitiation with me. My father Brough me a slice of pizza from the cafe across the street from the hospital, and it was explained to me that I would have to seek psyciatric care once I was discharged from the hospital.

Towards the second week, my mother had brought me some of my clothes so I could change into my street clothes. I had a pair of leggings and a tunic top, and I spent my days going to group sessions, and reading from the library. There was a Tv in the community area which had the new on. I was given 3 meals a day, and there away always someone checking on me. If it wasn’t the psychiatrist it was the psychologist. They asked me if I heard voices, and I replied I only hear my own voice in my head when I’m thinking. I had problems sleeping becoming an insomniac, they put me on sleeping pills so I could get a good nights rest.

Once I was discharged and I went home, I was pampered with love from my son who didn’t quiet fully understand what had happened but he told me just go to the appointments you will get better. He was very upset for me. He said I had changed because I was taking showers all the time. I don’t know what that meant, but I learned in the hospital that if I was feeling stressed that taking a shower was a coping mechnicanism.

I had my first appointment at out patient care the day after I was discharged. My mother stayed at home with my daughter, and my father met me outside the clinic. He had had to sign in case of emergency papers and have a meeting with the psychologist. I had to take the 11 bus to 114th street and Amsterdam ave.

I had already started to gain weight off the pschotropic I was taking. I had a pair of jeans that where a size 13 and I could no longer fit them so I resorted to wearing leggings and tunic tops I had. I was doing the laundry one day and just threw the jeans away.

I had to see the therapist on one day and the psychologist on another. I was given a lady doctor who I didn’t like so I was switched to Ricardo Miller, who was Jamaican and I had to see him on another day. So I basically was at the offices twice a month. I was given a metro card to get back home, my mother had discontinued the service I had on my cell phone that I threw away, and I had no phone. after some time I had called Ging house and she came upstairs to my apartment so I could tell her what had happened. I had stopped speaking to Cory Brown who had bought me the iPhone, and Ging was more then understanding telling me about Louis who was admitted to the hospital for bipolar disorder and how she had gone to see him.

Then I stopped taking the medication. I was gaining too much weight and my breasts where swollen. I didn’t have the money to buy new clothes, so I stopped taking the medication. I was having a psychotic episode and took a big plastic garbage bag and threw away most of my clothes. I called myself cleaning out my closet. So my mother had called the ambulence and she told them that I was having a nervous breakdown and to admit me to the psych ward which is what they did. My son was pissed with me.

I was in the hospital for a week. I had back to back episodes. So Dr. Miller put me on Zyprexia. I still gained weight, so I became obsessed with Anorieixa. All I had was a laptop, so I would lookup eating disorders and join groups online and I researched how to loose weight as an anorexic person. I was reading tips and tricks to loosing weight as though I had anoriexia. But I was taking my medication every night because my second stint in the hospital I met Natasha Phillips from post graduates program. She was a case worker who would be monitering my medication and making sure that I didn’t need anything. It was a way to make sure I was taking my medication and make sure I had entitlements in place like snap and or SSI.

When I had my psychotic episode my mother grabbed one of the garbage bags I had threw away in the compact room with my clothes in it, so I got back some of my clothes. She had taken me shopping at strawberrys on 104th and broadway, and I was able to get 3 tunic tops that where plus sized. They had limited options for plus size clothes, but I got what I needed.

Natasha was the one who told me to apply for an assurance wireless phone, so I did. It wasn’t anything fancy. I couldn’t get online with it. It was just to make calls. I got the phone in the mail. It wasn’t like the phones they have now which are android phones and connect to wifi and you can do basic searches on google on them.

Natasha had also taken me shopping on 125th street hi energy before they closed the store. She spent $100 dollars on leggings and tunic tops for me. It was a government stipend from post graduate. I was also able to get a futon couch for my daughter to sleep on for Jennifer convirtable on 89th street and broad way.

Natasha came once a week to count my pills to make sure I was taking my medication, and life went back to normal. My mother was working at Art oh mi, and had given me a job sorting mail. I was getting a little pay check, which I deposited into my bank account at TD bank. I had opened the account when I got the job. My mother would bring home the mail for me to sort, and would take it back with her the next day.

I was functioning. I was cooking dinner and going to parent teachers meetings at my sons school, and just making sure that both my kids had food in their bellies, I had learned that I had to open a snap case.

I wasn’t getting SSI, I hadn’t applied for it yet. I had wrote a letter in my own behalf stating that I was baby sitting and making $100 a dollars a week, and took it to the snap office. My mother wanted me to get food stamps because The cost of food was expensive and Natasha said it would be good for me to have a snap case open so I could feed my kids.

I learned I would be getting $649 in snap benefits. I had to fill out an application like every one else, and I became a registered voter. The whole appointment took 3 hours. With no phone that connected to the internet I just sat and people watched. There where woman with iPhones and tablets in the waiting area. Woman on the phone talking. I just waited for my name to be called.

I gave the case manager my letter and she made a copy of the letter so she could have it on file and gave it back to me. She crosse referenced my address I had a rent stub and made sure I was still living at my current address. And then I was told to expect a letter in the mail with budget on it. It took about a week to get the letter. I would have to recertify in 6 months.

Finally Natasha told me about SSI, and how I should apply. It would put some money in my pocket. It was a payment once a month for Social Security adminsitration. My daughter was going on 4 years old. She wasn’t in school yet, so Natasha tried to get me a voucher for Goddard nursery school on 90th and Columbus ave. But because I wasn’t working out the home, I couldn’t get her into the program.

So we just stayed home. It getting to be winter time. And I was going to my appointments with Chris Wilson and Ricardo Miller. I had asked Dr. Miller how long would I be on medication or be going to out patient treatment, he said for the rest of my life.

When I applied for SSI, they sent bother me and my mother a questionnaire in the mail. I first did the application online, my last doctors appoints, my medical history, the medication I was on, and what I did for leisure time. Current actives, and if there where any children in the home.

Then I was sent the appointment to see their doctors. The appointment was all the way down town near the court houses at 9am. I had gotten lost. I had $20 dollars on me so I hailed a cab to take me the rest of the way. Even with the directions on the appointment slip I got lost. I made it to the appointment just in time. I checked in and gave them the appointment sheet with my name and address on it, they gave me a questionnaire to fill out. I filled it out and returned it to the front desk. I had to see the psychiatrist and the medical doctor for my arthritis and trigeminal neuralgia. The whole appointment took about 2 hours.

When I got out from the appointment, I asked someone where the train was, and they pointed me in the direction of the train. I was 3 blocks away from the train. I kept stopping people on the street to make sure I was walking the right way to the train station. I finally found the train station. I took the 2 train back home to 96th a broadway. I had a dollar in my pocket. I bought a bottle of water at the deli on my way home.

It took about 3 months for SSA to make a determintation, I was denied SSI. I could appeal the decision made online, which I did under Natashas advisment. I had to open up a SSA profile under my social security number to do the appeal. I got a letter in the mail that I would have a court date in a year from appealing the decision made. So for a year I sat on the futon and raised my daughter. We where home together.

My mother started working for Democracy prep in Spanish Harlem, my son was in a freshmen in high school, and I couldn’t get up in the morning. My mother would call me by 9 am to get me up, putting the house phone by my head when she left for work. My daughter would be playing with her toys, have had already eaten, she was fully potty trained by this point. Our day consisted of going to the Franciscan center store and buying stuff animals and take small walks around the neighborhood. And then coming back and watching cartoons and eating lunch. It was my job to cook dinner. I had my food stamps in place so once a month my mother and I with my daughter would go grocery shopping. We had the basics, rice, beans, cheese, bread, some frozen dinners like pizza, and swantons turkey dinners. We had pasta and then the meats like chicken and ground beef. But my mother had to put in anther $800 for groceries like milk bread and eggs. Then there was dish washing detergent and laundry that she had to pay for, Plus cable and the rent and any incedentals like picture day or the cell phone bill that she shared with my son. I had nothing to offer. I hadn’t even chase my husband for child support yet.

A year had passed in slow progress. I had stopped taking the sleeping pills because they become habit forming, advised from Dr. Miller, and I was on the right path with my mental health, going to my appointments twice a month. With Chris we talked about housing options, and what could I expect in court when I went for my appeal.

The day came for me to go to court, Natasha met me down town and She had the letter from my doctors stating why I was a good candidate for SSI, which had my medical history and reports of the two times I had been hospitalized, and the medication I was on. Natasha gave it to the judge, and explained that she was my case manager, and the things she did to help me. The judge read the report given to him by Natasha, and told me ” don’t move, you can except a letter in the mail in 7-10 days”.

About a week later, I got my judgement. I was approved for SSI. I would have to take the letter to SSA offices to get paid. I went the next day to Social security offices. I wasn’t working for ART oh mi anymore, my mother didn’t have anymore work for me, so I didn’t have a pay check. So She gave me money to get on the train. It was thanksgiving break and she was home with my daughter. I brought my check book with me so I could give the Social security clerk my routing number so I could get direct deposit. I was told I would getting back pay, and that I would getting $427 a month but if I come back with a letter from my mother stating that I live with her and that I would be paying utilities I could get the full benefit about of $733. So after she entered my information into the computer, I left and went back home.

At home I explained what was told me to me, and my mother wrote the letter for me. I took it back the next day, and SSA called to verify the information. My first payment with social security which would be on the first of December would be $733. I would also be getting my first back pay payment sometime afterward of $3600.

Once I got my ssi I got a phone again, and I was back in contact with Elaine on Facebook. I was feeling like a brand new woman. I had paid to get my hair braided, I was getting my nails done with acrylic wrap, and just maintaining myself. I joined my mother and sons plan with AT&T, and got an iPhone for 99 cents on a promo. It was 8 gigs. It was the iPhone 3. I never had enough money to get a refill on my nails after 2 weeks so I had to wait till the first to get my nails done again. I was giving my son money and buying clothes at rainbow shops. I was buying my daughter toys, and when I got my first back payment of $3600 I gave my mother half, I took the other half and went shopping at TJ Maxx which was right down the block from the apartment building. I had bought my daughter clothes and myself clothes. I had bought shoes for my daughter and myself at Payless on 95th and broadway and at Tj Maxx, that I felt complete, that by the time My daughter started school I was able to buy her clothes to start school with. My mother paid for school supplies at staples, and she had everything she needed.

I was packing my daughters lunch everyday, she didn’t eat school lunch. So by the time I had recertifications for snap, I had brought in my award letter and found out that I wouldn’t have to recert every six months it would be every year.

My biggest expense was the cell phone bill, because ATT didn’t have unlimited data anymore they had data service packages, my son kept going over the data while in school. So at $15 dollars for 5 extra gigs a pop was being added to the bill every month and also my line The bill went from $192 to almost $325 dollars a month. I was paying the bill, and spending money, that by the 2nd week from payday, I was broke. I hadn’t even done the laundry yet, like most people who do laundry once a week, I had enough clothes to last me, and I repeated, meaning re wore dirty clothes. I wasn’t going anywhere. So I would wear something and then take it off and fold it and put it away in my closet. My daughters clothes where washed by my mother. But I never had the money to do my own laundry that I had bought excess amount of panties and I only had 3 bras, and I was washing my undergarments in the bathroom sink when I ran out of panties. I was bathing though. I just had a sense that I could get away with not doing laundry which is part of my diagnosis with bipolar, cleaniness.

Now that Im living in the shelter, I take pride in the the clothes I have and do laundry once a week. plus I don’t have much. My dorm room does laundry Wednesdays and Saturdays. When I got my back pay, and I was doing shopping on amazon I bought a laundry bag. Before then I was putting my dirty clothes back on the shelf and my dirty panties in a plastic bag and storing it in the bottom of my locker, until laundry day. I don’t buy laundry detergent, I use the one that she shelter has provided for us to use and fabric softener. Laundry takes all day at the shelter with the laundry room being open ever 45 minutes, then closed for an hour, you have to start your laundry early.

When I had my ssi the first time, it didn’t stop me from being hospitlized. I was pretty much hospitalized a few times a year for a couple of days or a week. That by 2016 things took a turn, when I started researching how to get credit cards. I was only eligable for retail credit.

My son was 17and working for insomina cookies, when my mother and I switched to sprint from ATT. To teach my son responsblity I was making him pay his own cell phone bill. But that didn’t stop the sprint bill from climbing to almost $500 dollars a month. I decided for my daughters birthday which is December 21st to get her an iPad with sprint. I was leasing it. I got a $100 dollar I tunes credit so she could buy games. Then I got another tablet for myself. Did I need a tablet? No I didn’t. I had an iPhone that did the same thing. So I had two iPad minis.

My mother didn’t suspect a thing until one month I couldn’t make the bill. I have over charges for starting a plan in the middle of the month. so she coughed up $200 while I was on a payment plan. We didn’t have a house phone anymore because everyone was mobile, and we couldn’t afford to keep a house phone with Verizon fios. By then my mother was only getting retirement and a source of income. So we had the phone disconnected.

When my son turned 18, we bought him a mini fridge. I allowed him to keep his sodas I bought at the grocery store in his room, which used to be my room. The wall had come down because we had an infestation of roaches which where eating the wall, so we had it knocked down. So we had the dining room back, and my mother got a circle glass dining room table. Before then we had a square table that sat outside the wall that was turned into a room. I was sharing the living room with my daughter, and I had a brand new smart tv which my mother took out a Best Buy credit line to buy for me. It was $800. But in the the throws of my psychiosis I had copied the numbers and bought online a mini portable cell phone printer so I could print the pictures on my phone, and a play station 3 for my daughter.

The arguments where all the time in the apartment between me and my son. From him coming home late from work and disturbing me in my sleep to using the bathroom first in the morning when I was trying to get my daughter ready for school. He was now working for uber eats.

He had went with me to get finger imaged and brought his high school diploma with him. I was challenging for child support which was my mandation with HRA. I had opened up a public assistance case, and was getting $145 every two weeks, but shortly stopped receiving it when HRA was notitifed that my son didn’t make it to orientation. There was too much cash on hand and they needed him to go to work force to prove he was working.

It was summer time and I couldn’t keep the air conditioning on because of the electric bill. Because of the electric meter put in years ago, my mother said she couldn’t afford the air conditioner. So we had fans.

So from HRA I was just getting Snap benefits, and that shortly got cut off when I closed my case when I started working for The Dry Bar. I had to report my income to SSA by phone and I didn’t have any. I never got paid from the Dry Bar.

I was in the middle of a psychotic episode. So When I got evicted from the apartment, It never dawned on me that I needed an address for SSA. I got Two more payments. By this time I had my own phone line with Tmobile. I had taken out two phone lines, and a tablet. I had gotten my daughter her own phone. She was reciveing benefits from SSI for a learning disability and food pollen allergies. I was her payee.

I ended up at Win 1 shelter from Dyckman centers suggestion. I was on my last payment from SSA, I was receiving $427, the original amount that I was suppose to get when I first applied for SSI. My android phone had stopped working, and I didn’t have any body number, so I was posting on Facebook and instagram. I was in the throws of thinking that Diddy was my boyfriend, that the case manager at Win 1 shelter asked me for an award letter to build an income profile, I went to Kinkos and logged into my SSA profile and paid to have printed out.

I went to t mobile around the corner from the shelter and purchased a phone. I wasn’t receiving my daughters benefits anymore just mine. A few days later my cell phone bill was posted at a tune of $1400. My account was suspended. Everything I owned was attached to my old address including my SSI.

I was thrown out of the shelter for stealing, they clipped my lock and made me take my belongings and asked me to leave. I had been served a restraining order while I was there from my mother and my son. I don’t know how they found me, but I was served at win 1.

Then my benefits where cut. And I had a cell phone bill that was added on to my ever evolving debt. I was served a restraining order, and was in the throws of a psychotic episode. So when I was thrown out of win 1, for stealing a woman’s bag filled with parafinilia like maxi pads and deoderant, I ended up around the corner from Trump hotel international. Then I found my way back on the train to 96th street and broadway. I walked to the precent with my restraining order, that said I had to have the cops with me to retrieve my belongings. So I got the cops to take me to the building in where I used to live, and get my clothes.But my mother had already packed my things up and had them in the shopping cart on the terrace. My son was at work and my daughter was in school. So I grabbed a pair of sweat pants and MGM luggage tote that was left in the master bedroom closet, and left with the cops.

I was out on the street. I spent the night in the park sleeping on a bench. It was spring out and I still was wearing the pair of jeans that I had originally left with and a pair of uggs. Someone had given $10, so I went to macdonlads on broadway to get something to eat the next day.

I decide to go to star bucks on 99th street and columbus and walked by the building in which I used to live, my son comes running out of the building and yelling at me stating that Im not supposed to be around. So I turned to leave. He followed me down the block until I crossed the street.

So I walked down broadway. I stayed the day on broadway in Starbucks I was connected to wifi but I had nothing to do on my disconnect phone. That night I got a direct deposit from HRA child support of $2500. I checked into the Days inn on 94th street and broadway.

They had a tooth brush and tooth paste in the bathroom, and I took a shower and brushed my teeth. The next day I went to sprint and opened up an account with 4 cell phone lines. Two for myself and two for Diddy. I bought a bluetooth speaker, and tried to get back on Facebook but I didn’t have the same log in anymore. My Facebook was connected to my old number and I was locked out, the same thing with instagram. I was talking to myself thinking that I was talking to Diddy in the hotel room. I went to Harlem and bought 2 wigs and make up from Mac, and took pictures in the the ceiling to floor mirror in my hotel room and posted pictures on my new instagram. I was going to keep documented my journey to bad boy through pictures.

When I don’t know how I went though $2500 dollars in 3 days, but I was eating out, buying cigarettes and smoking in the room, and buying stuff from the 99 cent store that I bought sneakers and ended up throwing them away when I was back on the street. By the time I was on the street again I had maybe about $100 dollars. I couldn’t afford to stay at the hotel anymore. I paid for 3 nights upfront.I think I my have bought clothes but when I bought the sneakers I bought a nike Tote. I had thrown my mcm tote away when the zippering had broke.

I was out on the street, So I went to chase bank and had my account closed. They closed it. I lingered around broadway for a a couple of days, sleeping on a park bench using things I found on the street as my prized possessions. I was finding pocket books, and I even found a pair of old navy denim leggings in my size folded and put on top of the garbage.

It wasn’t until I met Fred Ball in Macdonalds that things started to get shaky. He was an older white man who walked with a cane, I walked right up to him and asked him if he could buy me something to eat. He did, and then pulled out his flip phone to call his accountant. He told me he used to be an actor and wrote a screen play.

I hung out in macdonlads for a couple of days. I had met a gay guy named Micheal who lived on broadway and was part of the cast of Rent. Fred was feeding me, and so where a couple of other people. But the workers of mcdonlads stopped taking my order. They said I was loitering. So One day I went into the same mcdonlads, I had just stolen a tablet from Rite aid on 59th street and brought it back to macdonlads to connect to wifi, so I could write for Diddy, and the cops where called.

I had already lost my bag with my documentation in it, when I fell asleep by a link nyc post, and slept walked across the street and was standing leaning on a car sleeping. I dreamt that someone with a gun was coming so I got up and moved. I was right across the street from the hotel.

So by the time I sat down the cashiers call the cops on me and they hand cuffed me and put me in the back of a squad car and took me to the 100 street precent. I was in a holding cell for a couple of hours, they confiscated my belongings which was the tablet I had stolen, and some candy bars I had stolen from rite aid. Then they processed me and took me to central bookings down town. I was in central bookings in a cell with other woman. I had to plead the 5th with the lawyer they gave me, and I was let out on my own recongintice. I was given a metro card and sent on my way to where ever I was supposed to go. I took the train to 59th street. It was better for me to get out of the neighborhood.

The sprint phones got stolen when I had my sleep walking stint they where inside a nike duffle bag I had bought from the sneaker store. I had nothing on me. I had changed into the Jeggings that I had found in the mcdonlads bathroom, and thrown my jeans out because they tore a hole in the thigh area.

Now I was on 59th street and broadway. Time had passed it had already been 2 months. I was getting money from passerbyers, and sleeping the train station at turnstyle under ground market. That I was stealing the store brand denim leggings. I had worked out a plan in my head. I even had prepaid cell service for a month. I didn’t call anybody it was so I could get google play music. I had ear buds and I had made a play list. I was just bumbling around, not noticing that I hadn’t bathed or brushed my teeth, I was using the bathroom at time Warner shops, that the manager of the building had introduced himself. It was a private owned building with public enterence.

I was stealing instant coffee and gettin a hot cup of water from Starbucks and making my own coffee because they where refusing to let me have the sample. I was becoming known around 59th street, that I think someone in Starbucks called he cops on me, after giving me a sample of coffee.

I was sitting outside the post office that was close due to a holiday. I had a large pink suitcase on wheels that was thrown out of tj Maxx because it was damaged. so I took it and put my green sheet that I found in front of a Wendys that I slept in, and that was it. So I was sitting on top of th hard covered suite case when the cops rolled up. I had just finished my cup of coffee. The cops asked me if I was ok, did I need any help. Then one of the cops called EMS. They asked me where was I going, I Sid to the time Warner shops building to use the bathroom. “how about you come with us” And EMS took my glucose and got me into the ambulance. They took my suite case and put it inside the ambulence also.

They drove me to 114th street and Amsterdam ave to st. Lukes hospital. I was admitted, was there for 2 months. The first thing they did was administer haldol, I was given a shot in my arm, and a tray with food. I was taken to clark 8.

It wasn’t until my in case of emergency person, my father showed up that Shit got real for me. I thought I would be discharged and be back on the street. But him and a social worker told me, I wasn’t allowed to go home again, and that I would be taken to Franklyn woman’s assessment shelter.

They arranged for a cab to take to take me to the shelter. I didn’t know where I was going. The cab drove me to the Bronx and dropped me off in front of the shelter. Before I went in I tried to find a cigarette butt on the ground. There wasn’t any. I had a lighter and no cigarette. I had a dollar to my name and broken cell phone that was given back to me from discharge. They where nice enough to pack me some tooth brushes, tooth paste, mouth wash and unscented deodorant when I left the hospital.

I spent two months in my shared room at clark 8 sleeping. I didn’t really attend groups, I had tried to find a book to read but my mind was cluttered. I tried using the computer, I even emailed my mother telling her that when I got home I had stories to tell, but don’t worry about writing me back. I had made up and email address on gmail, I was trying to reach out to her like the previous times I was hospitlized.

So when I made it to Franklyn, I had a torn pair of leggings, and a pair that was I was wearing, a mock neck 3/4 sleeve purple tunic I had found in front of TJ Maxx, a purple true religion hoody the someone had thrown away because the zipper was broken, and my suite case. The coat I stole tore a hole in it so when I got to intake for Franklyn I threw the coat away. It was from Burlington coat factory.

I was given a bed on the second floor, because I had a cane, that was given to me in the hospital because of my arthritis. I was checked out by the internist and they said I was stiff. It was either a can or a walker. They gave me a cane. “Its hard to get a bed on the second floor”. The intake manager told me while I was being checked into Franklyn. She explained which doors I could use to go outside, and gave me a meal ticket that I was to carry around with me. The guards gave me a blanket, a sheet, one pillow, and a lock for my locker.

While living on the street I had braider my worn hair and had taken the braids out in the hospital. So I took the ripped up leggings and used it as a head wrap. I had a comb, a brush, and a small bottle of Pink moisturizer for my hair. I had an afro.

The next day I saw a case manager, who gave me an appointment to see the doctor at the shelter. I had to have TB test done and a health profile made so I could stay in the shelter. I was at Franklyn for 14 days, the longest you can be there is 21 days. Then I was transfered to Susans Place. Franklyn is in the South Bronx the bx 32 can take you to Frankyn, but its a distance. It was about a ten minute drive from Franklyn to Susans place. When I got to Susans place, I gave DHS my transfer sheet, nd thats where I met Ms. Brown for intake, and had my stuff placed in the dryer for bed bug inspection, and told to take a shower to wash off any bed bugs that may be crawling on me from the other shelter. There where no bedbugs but that was Susans places protocol.

At Franklyn you had to be out of the dorm by 7:30 am and go to the drill floor which was located on the first floor. There where two tvs and stacked chairs and outlets for people to charge their phones. You couldn’t go back to your dorm until 4 pm. There was a little bodega across the street, and all there was to do all day was watch what ever was on tv, one was in English, the other one was in Spanish. There was no air conditioning in the building just industrial fans. There was a industrial fan in my dorm. I had made nice with a few of the woman and was lucky enough to get a cigarette here and there. Then my dorm mate gave me two books to read. The showers where on the drill floor which meant you had to go down stairs to shower. So for 14 days I washed up in the sink in the bathroom in my dorm. The showers where public, meaning no shower curtain, and there was no door to the shower room.

There was a HRA office where you could find out if your eligiable for public assistance but they didn’t process the paper work there. You would still have to go to the welfare office to continue your application. There was nova domestic violence offices there also, thats where it was confirmed for me that I will never be seeing my mother or son again. Which meant I wasn’t going to see my daughter ever either.

I was transfered to Susans place so they could administer my medication and because of my mental health status I was transferred to a mica shelter. And so it began My humble beginings, I was starting over again from scratch. I had no parental rights. It was May 2019. My first night at Susans place.

Susans Place

The shelter isn’t that big. Its one story big with 200 beds. Its located in the south Bronx on Jerome ave and 176th street. The 4 train in over head so at night you can hear the train coming and going, its all day long. Theres a Cafeteria, 2 bathrooms with 6 stalls in each, 6 showers in each bathroom, and 4 sinks. Theres maintenance who comes around to clean the bathrooms all day, mop the floors and take out the garbage.

Theres a free clinic with in the walls of Susans place and its recommended by the case managers to use the facility instead of traveling to the doctors on any given day. Its a way to save money so your not pouring your ssi into transportation.

Theres a social services office where the receptionist, Craig sits and mandates the office for the clients to see their case managers once a week. Craig hands out the mail or packages that get sent to the shelter. So you can order or do your online shopping for clothes or what ever your getting, as long as it fits in your locker. Theres also a laundry room with 4 washing machines and 4 dryers and a schedual for selected dorms for selected days to do laundry. Theres always someone in attendece in the laundry room which is open every 45 minutes. sometimes you can do your laundry on a non selected day, you just have to ask, or put your name on the waiting list. Thats the only way your going back in your dorm is if your doing laundry. You can go in and get your laundry and then also when its done put your laundry on your bed which is usually packed in clear oversized plastic bags or a laundry bag if you have one.

From 9am to 5pm you have to be out of the dorms, unless you have a bed pass. A bed pass is for people who have acute problems sleeping and are able to get a bed pass from the clinics physicians. People on bed pass have to be out of the dorm by 11am. But getting a bed pass you have to have it documented that you have problems sleeping or have disability hat requires you to sleep longer then every one else.

Lights are out at 10pm, and come back on at 6:00 or 6:30am Im not sure because Im asleep until 7:30 most mornings. Theres a living room which opens at 7am. Theres stationary bikes and a work out room. When I first got there, there was a smoke room located in the living room, but DHS closed it. Theres also a activities coordinator office which is located in the living room, which is ran by Mecca. Mecca shares her office with Ms. smith who is the van request coordinator, she knows the ins and outs about SSA an HRA and will get you to HRA, We care, and BEV but you have to get yourself back. Now she has an assistant so the van now brings us back from HRA. Social security the van brings you back regardless because its just for award letters or to get a replacement social security card.

Theres the bubble, and office with a window. They keep maxi pads, tooth brushes, soap, and razors in there all you have to do is ask for it. Theres also a pharmacy for people on medication. They have an outside vendor who delivers pharmasuticals requested by the clinic for clients that go to the free clinic.

Theres a waiting area, which most mornings by 8am is full because when you have a van request you have to wait in the waiting area for Ms. smith to come get you. The staff is pretty good about knowing everybody’s face and name. Ms. smith comes in at 8am every morning but is never ready until about 9:30ish. And yo have to sit and wait for the van to arrive with the driver. Some woman just sit in the waiting area talking to one another.

Theres the directors office who maintains Susans place which is located in the waiting area. He’s takes care of Callahan, which every 6 months its a big to do. The morning starts at 5am.

Then there’s AWOL. AWOL is across the way from the waiting area. Its another waiting area for when woman break curfew and come back and have to wait for another bed to be free. You have to sit there until a head count is done and they can give you a bed. You have 24 hours to be back when you break curfew or they pack up your belongings and put it in storage. Most woman who break curfew are back the next day but are AWOLED because they missed bed check.

Bed check is usually done around 9:30 when the PA comes around their designated dorms and we have to sign for our beds. You can’t be on the phone by 10pm when lights are out. All gadgets have to be put away, and the dorm has to be quiet.

Every 6 months there’s an inspection done called Callahan. Its where you have to strip your bed of sheets pillows and blankets and lock everything away. You can’t have your extension cord plug in that used to charge your phone and tablets or laptops. When its Callahan the living room is closed and all there is is the cafeteria where the activities coordinator puts together games like bingo or card games. You can join in or sit at one of the empty tables and entertain yourself. Most of the time woman have their phone and tablet or are outside smoking weed and sitting in the little park down the block. When Callahan is over that night DHS head quarters comes to do an inspection to make sure everyone is in their dorm and in their bed. They check every dorm.

DHS mandates the medal detectors. And possibly the security which is allied universal security company. Theres two security desks one that signs for packages and the other just mandate the hallway to make sure everything is ok.

I have witnessed some fighting in the shelter. Usually its fights about who’s talking about who and DHS or security has to break it up. Theres a DHS office located adjacent from the medal detectors. And vending machines in the cafeteria. Theres no eating in the dorm rooms. The only thing you can have is water. Theres an ice machine and a two water fountains. One water fountain is in the hall way the other is with the ice machine in the cafeteria.

Your not allowed to have more then 3 pairs of shoes under your bed and no more then 4 stuff animals on your bed. Your not allowed to carry a lighter. Most woman who smoke put their lighter in their bra, like I do because theirs never any lighters with security when you want to go outside and smoke a cigarette. You can’t bring in glass bottles either. Its strictly prohibited. But for the most part the woman get along.

Most of the woman at Susans place are Spanish and in their 50s getting ssi or some type of retirement, or something left behind by a dead husband. A lot of the woman are married but put themselves in a shelter to get their own apartment which makes no sense to me, because a lot of the womens husbands comes to visit with them. A lot of what these woman do make no sense to me.

The shelter is also a domestic violence shelter called DV shelter. On the weekends you can stay in the dorm. Since getting a phone and tablet I stay in the dorm on the weekends and watch Netflix and find people to talk to on social media. I binged and watched all of orange is the new black. I take breaks with Ruby and smoke a cigarette, and then come back to finish watching my shows. My dorm mate is Norma she’s some type of Spanish and she has her whole set up. From laptop to two phones, even a camera. I don’t know what she does during the day but she’s nice.

Ive watched a lot of woman get packed up in my dorm, for one reason or another and leave the shelter to stay with someone. Those woman where working civilians. The shelter life isn’t for everybody. Its not for me either but what can I do. Im just now starting to get used to it.

Our last Callahan was cancelled due to coronavirus. So Im pretty sure when we are back in the shelter We are going to have a Callahan, and Ill be ready with my laptop, tablet, and phone.

Last summer was the beginning of a new trend at the shelter with beach chairs. The woman where buying fold up beach chairs so they could sit outside the shelter and smoke cigarettes and talk all day. Theres a liquor store about 2 blocks away from the shelter where woman buy nips and beer from the bodega across the street from the liquor store.

You would be surprised at the amount of woman who smoke cigarettes in the shelter. By the time I get outside at 8am most of the woman are outside smoking with a cup of coffee in their hands. And they hate beggars. No one gives out cigarettes. So when I first became a client of Susans place I was picking up buds off the ground and smoking them. Some times a woman would give me a loosey, but it took a while for me to get my welfare.

It took about about a month. Ms. smith took me to 300 canal place and I was still in the system, so they opened my welfare case without my birth certificate and social security number. Then I had to go to social security to get a copy of my social security card and have it sent to Susans place. Thats when I needed a residencey letter from my case manager. Then by train Ms. smith took me to the birth certificate office down on worth street in Manhattan. We took to the 4 train. My social security number and birth certificate where done all in one day. From the social security office we took the bus back to the shelter. I got my birth certificate that day. The shelter paid for it by money order.

To open my public assistance case we took the van to 300 canal place. We waited all day to be seen. And thats whenI found out about We care, on the print out of the appointment time that was given to me for We care. “please be aware that you could be with us up to 4 hours” And that was prove I was disabled. So I had to get a recipet for we care and BEV and bring back to welfare so it could be scanned into the system. Ms. smith has been working for Susans place for 10 years the shelter has been open for 11 years. so she pretty much knows everybody at social security offices and HRA, so instead of you going to HRA and waiting online you can wait in the waiting area while she skips the line to the receptionist and reads off social security numbers so we are given a ticket with a call number on it and u to the second floor after.

Then after about a 45 minute wait for your number to be called you have to see another receptionist on the second floor. She’s intake. Then its u to the 4th floor to be seen my case manager to open you case with pubic assistance. “How are you maintaining yourself” You usually say by public assistance, when its your recertification. When I opened my case They asked me if I was working or willing to get a job, I told them Im disabled and they gave me an appointment for we care.

To open a public assistance case it takes about 45 days. In 45 days I was able to get an Obama phone given to me by Victoria. I applied for a safe link SIM card and switched numbers because her assurance wireless phone number got disconnected.

We care where my advocates for SSI. I had filled out the SSI application at we care the next day with a woman named Agatha. So instead of having a phone interview on Ms. smiths phone which we still waited for the phone call august 11th 2019, I had the application sent by we care. Then there was the questionnaire that I had to fill out and mail back. By the time I got the questionnaire I had my own number with safe link.

I still had to go and pick up my benefit card in union square after my welfare appointment. So I took the 4 train to union square at 8 am and went to pick up my benefit card. Then I got a letter in the mail from welfare stating I would be getting $22.50 every two weeks and $194 in snap benefits nd that would continue for 6 months. But I had to keep going to we care for appointments sent to me by mail the entire time I waited for for my SSI to kick in. So by the time I got the questionaire I had my own number which I could put on the questionnaire where my return address and number requested.

I got a phone call for SSA with an appointment time to go to Pelham bay to see their doctors I also got a letter in the mail. I had to see their psychiatrist and also see their medical doctors. I had to bring with me my cane which I got in the hospital and I had to be there by 8am. It really wasn’t that far way only about a 45 minute train ride in total. The 4 train to 125th street then transfer to the 6 train going to Pelham. The offices where right across the street from the train station. I was out by 10 am.

I had to wait 5 months for an approval letter to come in the mail. I got my letter it was a Friday. I made plans to got that Monday to the Fordham offices in the morning. I thought I was going to be denied, but I won my case. When I got there Monday I found out that I would be getting retro pay (back pay) and $781 a month in benefits but I was going to get anything for 3 months. I also had to wait for my direct express card to come in the mail. I opted for the direct express card because of all my problems with my debt to banks I wasn’t sure if I would be able to open a bank account, or I could have them mail me my check but then I wouldn’t be bale to pay for things on line that I needed like clothes or streaming Netflix and the Stars app. I know it sounds like I far fetched but what else am I suppose to do. Its not keeping up with the jones anymore. I literally don’t have access to tv like regular people. I don’t have a remote control that I put in my hand and switch Chanels if I want. Its all in control of the security guards. I have to live. So I gave my case manager $1500 dollars out of my back pay in money orders. Paid my cell phone bill and bought clothes.

When we return to the shelter I have to start getting award letters to prove my income once a month for land lords. I have to start building a profile, and also give Ingrid 60% of my $781 a month to put into savings. I have to maintain my public assistance case for my snap benefits. You can’t have both public assistance and SSI at the same time unless it over rides. which is what the shelter tries to do, so every 6 months when you recertify your getting the $22.50 every two weeks while your out of commission for 3 months. But I plan to save money on my card. I don’t need any more clothes I can barely fit what I have in locker now, unless its a t shirt, I really don’t need any more clothes. I don’t wear shorts because Im too fat, so Ill wear my jeans and the the stuff I have now. I have a lot of winter gear because when I didn’t have I was freezing.

And these are the things that go on when living in a shelter. Every body more or less is reciveing ssi or public assistance. Theres still money for weed from the weed man that sells up the block from the shelter. Don’t get it misunderstood these woman find ways of entertaining themselves. They go to the little park up the block from the shelter and roll up.

The deli across the street take EBT and does things legit. The deli on the hill will let you get anything you want in the store with your EBT card including ear buds for a dollar more. I go to the deli on the hill because I can buy my cigarettes with my EBT card.

The woman form cliques so as long as your Spanish you have a group of friends. Im an outsider. I have Ruby and now Racheal who I hang out with.

It can take up to 4 years to get a place to live when dealing with the politics of shelter life. I have seen woman transferred to other shelters after 4 years, like a woman named Julia. She was at Susans place for 4 years when they transferred her because lack of employment. She was finishing up her degree as a medical assistant, and because lack of income they moved her to the stadium which located near yankee stadium.

There is some talent in the shelter also. Like norma who draws still life. Or the hair braiders like Crystal who went by the name Texas who got her own place to live by renting a room. She was working, she braided my hair the first time in box braids, T a woman who just recently became a Clint at Susans place paid for it for me for my birthday, hair included. Texas only charged her $45 dollars. I only just recently took them out while at the motel. I went to Harlem to a braiding shop and paid to have them taken out my hair washed and cornrows put in. I never got cornrows before but now its going to be my go to style. Theres an African hair braiding place on grand concourse I have to find out how to get there when I need my braids re done.

Theres always a hustle going on in the shelter there is always someone braiding hair or drawing, there’s even a woman by the name Kelsey who is designing her fashion line on her computer. Whether or not she makes it, the fact that she’s inspired to create while living in the shelter is beyond me. Which is why I decide to get my lap top. I like to write, but I had no one to share my thoughts with. At least I can share my experience by blogging and get some readers and leave something behind in the process. Theres more to come from me. I know I’m not that doomed with finding a place to live. Even if its a group home, it will be home for me.

The loneliness

Living in a shelter is lonely. Theres 200 woman around at any given time but there’s no one to talk to. Everyone is Spanish speaking and there are cliques. I don’t fit in with the crowd. All I know is that most of the woman are recieveing SSI.

Lets talk about a 2010e. A 2010e is a psychosocial profile that determines where your going to live. If you have mental health you most likely will end up in a scattered site which is when there are case managers on site to help you guide yourself with living on your own. Sometimes they hold your money and give you an allowance, some sites have medal detectors and some are SROs. The rent is $125 a month when you have a 2010e. I have a 2010e. I have see a psychiatrist. And Im on medication, and recieve SSI.

My case manager told me that Im down on paper work with the housing specialist to have a share which is sharing a two bedroom apartment with a stranger. Theres two bedrooms a bathroom and kitchenette. But with my credit score I most likely will end up in at a scattered site with a case manager on site.

I am not happy living in a shelter. My day stats off at 6:30 am when the lights cut on. I get up at 7:30am. You have to leave the dorms by 9am. You have to take your belonging with you, so that means your phone, your tablet, and laptop if you so choose, thats why I got a portable laptop, I spent $657 dollars on a Mac air 11.6 its referbished from amazon. But I needed something that I could sit in the living room with the wifi and journal my experience and write my blog. I could easily do it on my phone but I need a key board. So If I should choose to write a book I have the tools in front of me. I have so many dreams of becoming published thats blogging is just one way to get my personal story out there. I have changed, since being medicated. But starting over wasn’t easy. With $22.50 every two weeks For 5 months and $194 in snap benefits I spent most of my time watch making the band on you tube on my Obama phone and smoking cigarettes outside. I literally had no one to hang out with because Ruby my friend at the shelter goes to a nami program in Brooklyn. She takes the 4 train to crown hights. She is bipolar type one, and is on ablify for her symptoms. She’s in my dorm. She’s an interesting character. She had a story to tell.

Ruby was a crack head and gave her children up to the system, foster care because she was living at home with her mother and couldn’t care for them. She had 3 children, two girls and a boy, which she only recently got in contact with her her eldest daughter and her son is in Augusta Georgia, and her youngest child is in North Carolina who is a stripper and her children are in foster care.

Ruby has no teeth due to gingivitis and being a crack head. She lived in Brooklyn with her boyfriend at the time a man named Fredrick, who used to beat on her. He wasn’t a crack head but an alcoholic receiving SSI, would spend his money on liquor and was Rubys payee for her own SSI. Ruby is my only friend in the shelter.

So I get up at 7:30 am and brush my teeth in the public bathroom. Theres two bathrooms. Susans place is a one story building, with a health clinic. The living room is where most hang out from 8am till about 10 am then transfer to the cafeteria. I do the same thing every day. I sit and watch TV most of the time its good morning America then Kelly and Ryan if the security doesn’t change the Chanel to ID or some local network. Usually they have on law and order or blue bloods, or ID Chanel which is about murder mystery sometimes we can get BET and the fresh prince of bel air is on and Martin.

When I didn’t have any gadgets I bought ear buds so I could watch you tube and found 1-4 seasons of making the band, and also flava of love on you tube. I would sit in the semi comfy sofa by the outlet and watch making the band or flava of love with flava flav. By ten o’clock I would go outside and get a cup of coffee which is 75 cents and smoke a ciggerette, then go back inside to the cafeteria and write in my journal, a note book I bought from the dollar store and write about how depressed I was. I had another note book which I was hand writing an urban fiction novel, and thats where Im getting at when I say I want to to be published. I want to write a urban fiction novel.

I have so much material from the people I used to know thats names and stories can all be fictionalized. Something to keep me busy.

Breakfast is served from 7am- to 8:30 am when they close the cafeteria for cleaning from 8:30 to 10 am. From 10 am till 12 when lunch is served the tables are full with woman on their laptops or tablets or on the phone. I had nothing. I had to make myself busy. Then around 12 when lunch is served I would eat lunch but then I had an hour until the living room was opened because the living room is closed from 12 to 1pm. Some mornings there’s Zumba classes, thats twice a week once in the morning and one in the afternoon. Then there’s yoga which is on Friday mornings at 10 am, and then writing club with someone from the library, which I still never found, and its only ten minutes away from the shelter. Then there’s a group Healthy relationships, and anger management.

Dinner is served at 5pm. Now Im not one to complain about food, being a foodie, But the food selection isn’t that bad, its the standing in line with a tray thats lonely. But by dinner time Ruby is back from her program, we go out and smoke a cigarette together and she tells me about her day.

To keep me busy I made doctor appointments at the clinic which is how I found out I had HPV. Theres a GYN on site and because I have an IUD I needed a pap smear. Its a free clinic so outside people from outside the shelter go to the clinic. The doctors are nice enough, but I had nothing else to do. I even had my teeth cleaned with their dentist. I had a full work up done with blood work and boosters like hepititis and HPV vaccine. Im a little on the heavy side weighting 245LBS This is the residual weight from being on zyprexia which was my last medication.

I see the psych once a month, and the rest of the time is spent sitting in the cafeteria pretending to be busy. Theres a computer lab but the computers barely work and its always full. So I decided that when I got my SSI Back I would get me a phone and a tablet from Metro pcs. I watched power and was very happy with myself.

Breakfast consists of boiled eggs, grits, pancakes or waffles, and coffee. I usually make it just in time for grits but I barely eat breakfast. Im not a morning person when it comes to breakfast, I usually get something later in the day like a bacon egg and cheese sandwich from the deli with my snap and eat in the cafeteria.

When I got approved for ssi again I needed a letter of residency from my case manager, Ingrid, to prove my address, and I had to go to the northern bronx social social security office on fordam road, which was a quick train ride 3 stepson the 4 train. I no longer listen to music while getting on the train because I feel like I need to focus on my where abouts. I keep looking at the map on the train for the next stop, and things of that nature because Im afraid Im going to get lost. Like When I was given a metro card from 300 canal place Ryder center which is the local welfare office and told to get on the bus back to the shelter. I had $40 dollars on me because Abdul gave me $20 dollars I took a cab back to the shelter.

Living in the shelter is a strange experience. I usually go to bed around 6pm until bed check. Bed check is when The staff come around with a sheet and you have to sign for your bed. Most of the time Im just laying there listening to the conversations around me. I have sheets for my bed because a woman who left the shelter gave me brand new sheets and a pillow for my bed. I have blanket because Angel, another woman who was in my dorm bought a new blanket for herself and gave me her old one. But now that I have my direct express card and SSI I have my phone and tablet hooked up. I have Hulu, Netflix, hobo max which has friends and fresh prince of Belair, I got into grays anatomy on Netflix.

My friend Yvonne who since left to rent a room on east treemont ave shares my Netflix account. She’s back in a shelter because Susans place turned her away. She told me she couldn’t keep up with the rent. She gets SSI also but works for handy, a company which you sponsor yourself to do house cleaning jobs. You travel to the location and get paid through the app. She was also working off the books as a cleaning lady in a make up store.

There is nothing to do all day at the shelter, and if you don’t have any phone calls to make or anybody checkin up on you, its best to have a tablet and a laptop. Now I have all 3. I don’t have social media anymore. I quit with Facebook, and I only have an instagram to follow celebrities to see their pictures, I don’t even comment. Im on dating sites to talk to random strangers until the conversations falls flat. Most want to meet up but Im not traveling to another borough to meet a stranger for no reason. So I changed my setting for out of state. So I can have a long distance text buddy.

I went to anger management, and healthy relationships group, I also did yoga, but Im not down with Zumba. So why not blog. Theres plenty to share.

Like after your 2010e there’s cityfeheps voucher which is like section 8 but not really. The state gives up to 1200 to pay your rent and you have to pay 35% from your income. So if your rent is 1300 you have to pay the difference from your SSI, or pay check. not a lot of woman are working in the shelter.

Then there’s sota, which is for working individuals. If you make $2000 a month Sota covers your rent for one year, then your on your own.

Then there’s one shot deal from Hra which covers your deposit and first months rent. Living in the shelter you have to keep a public assistance case open. which means by the time 6 months has passed your 22.50 will kick in, your recertifications are every 6 months, so for 6 months you get your ssi and for 3 months you don’t. So You have to save money to pay your cell bill. Theres nothing to so in the south bronx any way. Its an eye soar. Th only good thing is that there’s a bakery that excepts EBT and Rainbow shops. Theres S and A which is a store you can buy cotton panties for 59 cents a piece, soap, lotion, and very little clothing options. They have coats in the winter and non name brand mens jeans, and cheap perfumes. Theres a dollar pizza on burnside. Im surrounded by garages. 176th and Jerome ave.

When you open up a public assistance case, you have to go to BEV, which looking into your income sources and living situation. Then there’s We care. I had to go to we care every week for 5 months because there was a problem with my case. I have to take the bx 2 bus on the grand concourse to fordam road. Its quite a walk from the shelter. I have to pass Walton ave which is where all the houses are, and Im on the high way.

We care is no joke, its a 4 hour wait. These are the things I don’t look forward to in 6 months. Going back to BEV and We care. To get back from BEV I have to take the 6 train to 125th and transfer to the 4 train to 176th or burnside. We care and their 4 hour wait, and I never find my way back to the shelter I have to have the bus driver tell me its when we are at east treemont ave, or I end up walking the long way bak to the shelter. Do you know how many times I have gotten lost coming back from we care? Too any times. And sitting there waiting to be seen by one of the intake coordinators is frustrating . And I was going to move upstate if I got excepted. Hell to excepted I didn’t have the money to travel on the am track to upstate with all the debt I accumulated.

When You get ssi or already have SSI once a month you have to go to the social security office to get an award letter by van request. I haven’t been able to go with everything closed including social security offices, now Im at the motel in Manhattan because we are being quarantined.

The letter is proof to the landlords that your receiving income and there’s hasn’t been any changes. But that still goes with your credit score. Im doomed. Im not going to be moving into a share apartment with a stranger, Im going to be moving into a scattered site with case managers on site to bug me all the live long day. And this is just what I have to look forward to living in the shelter.

Meeting with a case manager once a week, dorm exceptions to make sure my locker is clean, I don’t have any contraband, and my bed is made up. Theres fire drills. 3 a month. Once after bed check where we all have to gather in the cafeteria in our pajamas. I sleep in sweat pants and a t shirt my bra and panties and socks. in the beginig I was sleeping I my clothes because I didn’t have sweat pants to put on. But the woman get comfortable in pajamas and nightgowns.

Theres air conditioning during the day in the summer time. And in the winter there’s heat, and they lock the windows to keep the heat in. Theres always an argument about the windows in the dorms. Theres always someone complains the window shouldn’t be open, even in the summer time, because the air conditionings goes off at 5 when we can go back in the dorms. We have have be out of the dorms from 9-5. So Theres nothing left to do but be creative. The time Is now. I can’t worry about my credit score there’s nothing I can do to fix it now. I stuck with a piss poor grade and worrying about how Im going to get around when I haven’t even left the shelter yet.

But its lonely. Theres nothing to look forward to, unless you give yourself something to look forward to. I am not excited about moving. I am not excited about keeping my public assitance case open. Im not excited about going to We care, and Im not excited about the future what ever that may be for me. I miss my kids and my family. But Im no good. I was the black sheep of the family and now Im the dead beat. Living with schizoaffective disorder ruined me. Why God was I choosen to have this disease?

The past

In the past, I have had a lot of different oppertunities to have a job. I couldn’t for the life of me work for $7.25 a hour and be a single mother. I tried working for barnes and noble for $7.25 an hour I made 50 bucks a day for two days. I worked for Godiva chocolates for $9 dollars an hour I worked for 3 days and I still couldn’t make up the difference with being a single mother. I don’t know how I was going to make it with no child support, and paying 5 bucks to get one the train to get to work and have a cell phone and try and go shopping. My mother was like if I work I had to contribute to the household by giving her half my paycheck. If I didn’t work I had an allowance of $20 dollars a week, so I resorted to stealing from her debit card to pay for things like getting my nails done and shopping. It was in small increments but Elaine got a job working for GNC and was bringing home 380 every two weeks and was able to buy timberland boots and clothes at Ashely Stewart.

I barely had work clothes and If I asked my mother to take me shopping it was for one or the other, work clothes or play clothes. I didn’t even have job interview clothes I wonder how I made it through the job interview. I had to pick jobs that I could go to an interview in jeans and a decent top, I barely had clothes as it was.

I worked for curves gym on 48th and 5th ave I was the front desk receptionst I got paid $10 dollars an hour for 4 days, and I still had to contribute to the house hold. My mother made $80,000 a year, I was pissed off that I had to give her half my check, that when she trusted that I was at the grocery store with her debit card buying the things she needed for dinner, I was also taking out $35 dollars at the register. I so badly wanted to get my nails done that weekend with Elaine, that I had no choice but to steal. I had already run through my pay check with giving my mother half, that having a metro card to get to work I was broke.

I never had enough money to get my feet done, just my nails. And back in the early millinium flip phones where popular. So I had me a flip phone from sprint. My bill was $75 dollars a month which I paid at radio shack, and I would spend the weekend hanging out in my apartment with Elaine after work. We would get beer and she would buy weed and we would sit on the terrace and hang out. My son was going on 6 or 7 by then. I was in early 20s and I didn’t see a foreseeable future.

Elaine had already advanced at her job becoming assistant manager and she was getting a raise, She was going out with guys she met from black planet and migente. I was dating a guy named Bishop. I met from black planet.com He was from Brooklyn. He was a drug dealer and had a daughter. We mainly got together for sex, we never went out. I was working at curves gym, and he was in Brooklyn “doing music”. He called himself a music producer and had the full set up in his room, protools and the g2 Mac desk top. He said he worked for sisal, some reggae dude I never heard of and he had his mind set moving to Atlanta for the music scene.

I didn’t fall in love with bishop but I met him on social media. He was cheating on me with other woman he was meeting on black planet. He had a fan base that he built himself and I was only around for the sex we had in my mothers apartment, while my son was asleep in my room, and my mother was in her room I was on the couch having quickies. This seemed tone my dating life.

How I found out Bishop was cheating because I had given him a phone on my plan, a Motorola flip phone and I was at work, I hacked his account to see his pictures, and he had pictures I never saw him dressed up and he was in the back of a car with sun glasses on. He was sending pictures to other woman, and I confronted him about it, and he said he was sending pictures to his sister because she hadn’t seen him in so long. I didn’t believe him, so I had the phone line suspended. I was paying the bill anyway. Not once did he try to contact me, we where only together for 6 months. In that time I was working and then lost my job because they couldn’t afford to pay me. Curves was privately owned so I had to go back on allowance with my mother, paying my cell phone bill.

Aaron was a happy kid because I did the most to make sure he had his video games. But I feared as he got older he would get into sneakers and clothes. I was walking him to school everyday and picking him up and spending my time writing and smoking weed, my mother was even buying it for me. But I would have mini panic attacks, that I had delusional thoughts that I would make it as a writer. My problem was that I could write spoken word I couldn’t recite it, and there was an avenue of expression on you tube thats I hadn’t even found yet, spoken word artists.

I had my little dell computer that I got from pc mall thats I went into debt for on a credit line I took out that my mother ended up paying for, I had put all my poetry on word and I had my desk top in my room connected to wifi.

The first person I told I was pregnant with my daughter was my son. I decided to keep the pregnancy I must have been delusional. This is when William moved in with us, and Aaron had his own room. I thought William would take care of me, but he had his own dream of becoming a dj and a personal trainer that when he was diagnosed schitophentic, It was too late. My sons step father wasn’t able to keep his job at New York sports club. He was going to work for crunch fitness but settled on David barton gym, I had already kicked him out because he had a porn addiction that I wasn’t living with, My daughter was already born, my mother was the one buying diapers while I was on wic for formula. My father bought me the car seat and stroller because William couldn’t afford it. He was taking trips back home to Pennsylvania get his laptop so he could download music and be a dj to techno music. He didn’t have a fan base and Then It was the equipment he bought to synthesize music.

I didn’t even have a wedding ring. We got married in June, after much arguments because if I wanted a roof over my head I was going to marry the son of a bitch who got me pregnant. That was the help I got from my mother. My father came over to take Aaron out on the weekends, and I was home with the baby while William worked at New York sports club. Having him on my snap budget Dwindled my budget because he was working. I was used to having 600 a month for food stamps, I was only getting 345 in food stamps, and no cash assistance.

When William finally left for good I was trying to get a job but I wasn’t getting help with child care so I had to lie on my snap application saying I was baby sitting I forged a letter like most non convicted welfare abusers do, stating I was babysitting for Marisol R. (someone I went to grammar school with) I faked a number and address and prayed it would go through. I didn’t want to go to work force one because I had no one to watch Aliyah my daughter. So When I was approved for 6 months in snap benefits It bought me some time to make my next move. I had wic in place and snap And I was getting 649 again once William left the household.

It wasn’t until I had to fight for child support again that I realized how much sis didn’t cover. I had all the retail credit, I didn’t immediately start using the cards either. But I had started to buy things I didn’t need. I had a problem with doing laundry so I kept buying my daughter clothes she had enough underwear for a month and clothes for school, that I did laundry once a month. My mother did Aarons laundry and I did mine and Aliyahs. Thats the one chour I hate most in the world, Laundry. Plus it was expensive and boring. But like always I found a way out of doing the laundry until the last minute.

Then I found out about section 8 outside New York city. Theres a web portal Where you can fill out online applications for housing. Not realizing that I had to actually find my way there to the housing interview I applied for Newark New York, cohoes, and tarry town. the plan was my son was going to stay in New York city with my mother and I was going to move with my daughter upstate New York for a year and come back with a traveling voucher. But I was only getting approved for public housing not section 8. I was on the waiting list for damn near all of the places I filled out an application for, but it was public housing and the wait list was 5-6 years. Meanwhile I was getting into arguments about keeping up with chours in the apartment. I really didn’t want to do the dishes and I felt like my son should pick up his slack. He was getting older no and was preparing on graduating high school, which he didn’t let me attend, he gave up graduation because I was an embarrassment to him. I felt my mother spoiled him too much and I didn’t.

When he got his working papers his first job was at insomnia cookies as delivery. My mother had purchased him the bike for his birthday. His goal was to work for uber eats and make boku money, so he could by a MacBook to work on music production with his friends from the building.

I had a false sense of hope for myself and this is part of my disorder that I had to work through. I can’t be a mother on 733 a month. I can’t be a single mother in todays society with mental health issues and I damn sure shouldn’t have not had a second child. My mother told me to abort the baby But I didn’t listen. My father said Its ok to have a second child, but That mean that I had to fall back into a plan of action and get a career not a job. I had no help from William who considered himself the bread winner of our relationship, that when I went back to school the last time to empire beauty school, I really was taking my chance on finding work as a cosmetologist, that I even took a job at manicure which was a traveling manicurist for offices. I wasn’t any good at that job either, That They stopped sending me on jobs. I work for the dry bar, and even got a picture with All Webb when the upper west side location opened up. I was working with actual stylists. Woman who worked for Aveda and Jeffery stein salon.

Then I realized that I wasn’t good at hairstyling. I even was able to rent a chair at Tamaras beauty salon on 106th and Columbus ave. She was the local weaveologist. All the girls who worked for old navy and chipolete went to her for their weaves. Tamara had four stations in a small salon and After getting fired from dry bar I rented a station for $100 dollars, and access to the salon two days a week. I could take walk ins, or have my own clientele that I took out a second line with Verizon and had business cards printed. But I didn’t have supplies so I offered wash and blow out relaxers weaves and hair cuts.

After a month I went to the salon and Tamara had packed up my things. And handed them to me, “Its just not working out” she told me. Meaning I wasn’t making her any money, because I wasn’t making any money. So I took my things and left.

After I had graduated school I had gotten a chair all the way out in Queens in a salon called Sheer Genius. I had to take the A train to the last stop in queens. It was a two and a half hour train ride. I had stupidly taken all my supplies and Aaron went with me to go get them, because I had my hot tools which where heavy. IT didn’t work out there because every body was already established And there where no walk ins, and although I wasn’t paying rent for my chair I would have to let him take half my pay that I would make on each client.

I was not good in school either But I tried my best and I did what I could. But I was also 34 years old starting back in a profession that you really should start when your in your 20s. I realize now my mental health played a big part on my sobriety. Im an ex drug user, even though weed isn’t a gateway drug, I had only stopped smoking weed when I couldn’t get high anymore, and I had a psychotic episode and was put in the hospital when my mother called the cops on me.

Ive been hospitalized at least 25 times. Not all the times I was hospitalized was I there for two weeks at a time, sometimes it was 9 days. But What made me think that I was going to be able to take my daughter to go live upstate I can barely get around now and live someplace completely new with no one to turn to if something should go wrong. My kids are better off with out me, I rather them hate me then miss me. My daughter and I where close but I kept getting hospitalized, that the last time before the acs investigation happened, my daughter gave me a card that said though anything she would always love me. I knew then the clock was ticking. She gave that to me after going out with my father, she bought me a card and wrote inside “Though everything I will always love you”.

But Im left with shattered images, and no pictures. I fear for my future as a mentally disabled woman of almost a certain age. With no friends from the past to talk to. I lost everything and everyone that was important to me, but with good intentions. safety. I am a danger to those I love. Its better that I be by myself. I haven’t cried yet since this has happened to me. But I am on anti depressants as well as haldol. But I have to say I actually do feel the difference of not being on medication its been a month and I feel different. I hope I don’t have a psychotic episode. Am I hearing voices? No I not, but I am feeling uneasy.

Starting over…again

I’m almost 40 years old. What I mean by starting over is getting SSI back, a source of income.

When I first got to susans place I was given a bed and a locker. I was transferred to a mica shelter for woman with mental health disabilities and or physical disabilities. There’s 200 woman in the shelter at any given time. They give you 3 meals a day and all there is to do is sit around.

Your given a case manager to help you get housing and also important paperwork like your social security card, state id with the shelters address and your birth certificate, with the help of the van request I was able to get all 3 again. My address is now that of the Bronx NY and I have all my documents. But I had to reapply for social security income. Which meant going to to the local social security office in the Bronx and making an appointment to schedule a phone interview with social security. I didn’t have a phone yet and I couldn’t get an assurance wireless because I had already had one, until someone from the shelter gave me an assurance wireless phone because she had two phone accounts she was paying for. She let me have her Obama phone. But Ms. Smith a cordinator for the van requests took me to social security and let me use her cell phone number for for my scheduled phone interview with SSA, that was for August 11th 2019.

In the meantime I had to go to welfare. Which is 300 canal place by van request. The van takes you there but your given a metro card and you have to take the BX 32 bus back to the shelter by yourself. I had made a friend on tagged. His name is Abdul. I was using the Obama phone to chat with people on tagged. It’s an 8 gig phone that comes with mad bloatwear and only enough room for one app. So I made an email address and switched accounts to SafeLink when the phone number disconnected and was sent a SIM card from SafeLink. Abdul doesnt live that far away from the shelter, I’m close to Yankee stadium and that’s the stop he lives on the 4 train. I didn’t tell him that I lost custody of my parental rights and I was kicked out of my mother’s apartment and I suffer with mental health issues like schitophrenia, I said I lost the apartment when it went coop and I don’t have any kids.

Abdul has been more then generous giving 20 dollars a week when I was on welfare. When I got approved for welfare my cash assistance was 22.50 a week and 194 in snap. Being that I don’t get a period I didn’t have to worry about buying pads, even though they have that at susans place also. Along with razors and soap. We also have showers and towels. There’s laundry facilities there also.

So when I went to HRA , and was given a metro card to take the bus back alone I hauled ass into a cab that had socilicited me and for 15 dollars I took a cab back to the shelter. I knew the address but I didn’t know the stop on the bus.

I saved the cash up and bought a pair of pants on burnsides rainbow shops and I used my snap to but cigarettes and a cup of coffee because there’s a deli across the street from the shelter that takes food stamps for cigarettes. The clothes I was wearing where from the shelters donation closet. I grabbed what I could fit including a pair or high water black begging jeans and some shirts. I was given more under wear and I was given a purple bra by some woman at Franklin who went to a church function where they were giving out donations. Before then I was wearing the to tight bra and when I was on the street I had stolen a sports bra type of bra from daune Reade.

Abdul took me shopping for some clothes at a thrift store across the street from the shelter. I was wearing my hair curly and cropped because when I was living on the street I had stolen a relaxer and a sewing kit with scissors in it. I went to Petco locked myself in the bathroom stall and relaxed my hair and washed it out in the toilet. Mind you I was bat shit crazy I had no reason to do this but I cut off my hair afterward and put a head band on.

The clothes barely fit but I had no choice but to wear tight sweatpants and t shirts. I was able to buy some hair products from the beauty supply store on burnside and in the morning wet my hair and put some products in it.

So when I was approved for welfare I had to go to we care which is a place you have to go to put on record with welfare that you can’t work and they have an assessment team to determine if you disabled or not. Their psychiatric office where my meteators between myself and SSA. They put in the application for ssi. About a week later I got paper work in the mail it was a questionnaire for social security disability, but I was also denied SSD I didn’t have enough work points. The questions where pretty standard like what was my disability, my employment history and my last known address. I filled out what I could and mailed it back.

At Susans place there’s a clinic within the walls of the shelter. The psychiatrist is the one who administers my haldol shot once a month, and that’s why I was transferred to a mica shelter.

With in 5 months I was approved for SSI. That’s wasn’t after having to see social security doctors in phelem Bay where I had to take the 4 train to 125th street and transfer to the 6 train going back uptown to Pelham bay. The office was across the street from the train station.

I opted to have the direct express card with direct deposit from SSA on it. I was mailed my first check which I cashed at the local check cashing place with Ruby my partner in crime as she calls it. I went to metro PCS and got a phone and a tablet and then went to Rite aid and put money on a prepaid green Dot card so I could download the Starz app and watch power . I wasn’t trying to keep up with the Jones anymore I was maintaining bordum.

There’s a living room at the shelter there’s two televisions. One in the dining area and one in the living room which is maintained by security. I now live with DHS. So when ever I go out for a smoke I am subjected to being frisked with a wand and my stuff out through a scanner. I have to go through a metal detector when ever I leave the building. I hide my lighter in my bra like most of the other woman at the shelter, because it doesn’t go off in the medal detector.

With my check of 735 I bought a tablet phone, and a tablet, with cases so I could set up my phone and tablet with the 90 dollars I put on a prepaid card. I also bought two pairs of jeans and 3 shirts and put the clothes that didn’t fit on the donations table in the living room.

After my first check I wouldn’t be seeing my check for 3 months because when you live in an emergency shelter SSA only pays you for 6 of the 9 months on social security. So for 3 months I didn’t see my check. But I got retro aka back pay of 2300 dollars which 60% of it goes into saving at the shelter with your case manager. I had to get a money order at the post office because it lasts longer then a regular money order. The saving is for when you move into your own apartment or shared or scattered site you have money to buy furniture or things you need for your apartment. And this is what I fear. There’s no request to live in which ever borough you want. Most of the woman are placed in housing in the Bronx sometimes Brooklyn and you have maintain. Meaning go to the DMV and get a new identification. Go to the local snap office where your new housing is and then also find the local social security office and let them know you moved and hand in a copy of your lease.

I’ve been in the shelter for a year. I’m just learning how to get around. I requested Manhattan but most likely I’ll be placed in the Bronx if they can place me because this is where I learned your credit score has a part to play in where you live and placement.

So with the remaining balance of my retro I bought clothes on Amazon and rainbowshops.com now at least I have clothes that fit and Abdul had bought me some sneakers and a coat from the thrift shop and one of the staff members have me a gap coat that she no longer wanted which is pretty up to date in style but that wasn’t my concern this past winter. My concern is my credit score. Where am I going to end up in a few years.

It’s now June and because of the coronavirus the shelter closed they had us pack our stuff and they buses us to motels. One in the Bronx and one on the upper west side on 106th street and Central park. I’m on center park. I didn’t bring my tablet so when I got payed this month for may and June I decided to by a Mac air 11.6 referbished on Amazon prime because I have an account with them now. So I can stream videos and hbo max so I can watch friends and the fresh prince of bell air.

I went to Harlem and got my box braids taken out and put cornrows in. I’m maintaining the shelter lifestyle. My clothes are sent out to be washed by the staff on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but we could be here for 3-6 months, and guess what? I can’t go to the clinic for my haldol shot. I have my own room and in order for me to keep my sanity I decided to start this blog on word which I’m going to switch over to my laptop and keep myself busy by sharing the experience of being homeless.

Susans place isn’t that bad there’s not a lot of rules to follow it’s just that it’s boring all day long with out gadgets. So I decided to live journal because we have wifi at the shelter but also at the hotel. I am literally 10 blocks away from my old residence and I can’t see them. The only number I remember is my father’s and I dare not call or text. I did enough damage.

Not only did I steal the check from HRA I opened up a pay pal in my mother’s name and used the bank account she let me have and also mine to open up a credit line. I put her in debt and it’s something I feel guilty about everyday. I was buying clothes for my daughter from the children’s place. I know she filled identity theft and this is why she has a restraining order on me. I am literally not at a loss for words I deserve it, but I have to blame my mental health I was hearing voices telling me I could pay it back when I get signed. So I spend my day journaling and letting it be known people with schitophrenia are not ok. It takes alot to deal in general but the cause and effect of your mental health are just that.

I was never ok. I was never normal. I always had to try and keep up with the Jones with out working for my keep. I know now that having a line of credit is nothing more then debt that I have considered suicide. I researched nembutal the suicide pill. I became an organ donor online at the dmv. But I have to save up for the pills and possibly put them aside for when I have the balls to actually commit suicide. I would have to send the money Western Union or cash app because they come from over seas. I’m not even suicidal. But I can’t deal with myself either.

At susans place there’s an activity cordinator who goes out of her way to see that we have yoga and Zumba classes but that doesn’t take away the pain of what I’ve done to my family. And be that I’m off my medication for the next 3 months all I have is my laptop and my phone and no one to call. I hate taking pictures now and I give out my number to random men on tagged to have someone to text until the conversation dies off.

Birthday and Christmas where spent in the shelter. The shelter had Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner. My birthday will never be the same and I can’t even celebrate mother’s day any more. I have no friends and the only people I have to talk to want to meet up and possibly have sex and I gotta weed through the conversations. Abdul is a nice guy but eventually he’s going to want more and I can’t give him more. He’s 48 single and no children. I don’t want to have sex because I have hpv I found out at the clinic after getting a papsmear and I have to go for a biopsy in September to have the cells frozen. I still have my iud in. But my ex boyfriend gave me hpv and I feel disgusting.

So the life of a homeless woman isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I might be able to get a laptop and have a tablet but I still have dreams of becoming published and this isn’t my mental health talking. Not for bad boy records for any body who would take me seriously. But I know I am biting off more then I can chew. This is why I created the blog.

Franklin wasn’t my first time in a shelter. When I was kicked out I went to dyckman center. There’s gaps in my story for a reason. They placed me at win one on 54th Street on the west side. I got kicked out for stealing from someone’s locker. They clipped my locker and she got back the bag I took from her. This is when I still had the four phones I took out for me and Diddy.. I braided my own hair in the lounge area and stared directly into the security camera because I thought Diddy was watching me handle myself. I was there for a week. I had gotten my last direct deposit from SSA and my cell bill was 1400 dollars because I was no longer in the lease they closed my account and this part of my escalating debt. I was back out on the street and this is when I had no money and I admitted myself to the hospital for swollen feet. I was hearing voices and wondering when I was going to have my next meal that I decided to start stealing my food. I got busted in tj Maxx on 96th street for stealing panties, then again at Trump plaza for stealing pants. That the first time I went to the precient they kept me locked up for a few hours. I called my dad and left a message that I had gotten picked up.

My schitophrenia got so bad that I was in time Warner shops mall and I went shopping at h and m and I asked the staff if they could hold my items for me that someone would be coming to pick up and pay for items. I left my dad’s number and my name. I did it again at the TJ Maxx before I got busted and also Desiel. I thought Diddy sent me body gaurds that where around for me that I could go shopping but leave the stuff at the register and someone would be by the pay for the items . I also believed that he had a suite for me at Trump hotel international and I just had to wait till he got off the plane from LA.

This is why it only took 5 months for SSA to approve me for SSI. I said some outlandish things that where documented when I had my last stint in the psych ward. It usually takes 6-9 months for SSA to make a decision on whether or not your approved for SSI. It only took 5 months for them to make a determination. Now I get 781 a month and 60% of that is supposed to go into savings but we are in the motel and I’m not with my usual case manager. But I still have money saved. With everything closed in the city there’s no where to go. Even still I don’t feel like spending money. I spend time reflecting on my life. The many mistakes I’ve made and my pending future plans with housing. The meet fact that I will never see my kids again or my family. I’m alone in this world with a story to tell.