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.

Community meetings

Community meeting are held once a month in the cafeteria. It’s a way for the clients of the shelter to voice their concerns about the property or staff. Complain about imperfections like the on going problems in the bathroom. It’s an open forum for the woman to confront each other with out having to be face to face.

The concern is always how unclean the bathrooms are during the day, and who keeps leaving toilet paper on the floor. The many compliments of why is someone leaving dirty maxi pads in the stalls and the ceral pooper of the shower stalls.

There are announcements made for the month and to keep an eye out for flyers being posted about up and coming events. It’s Ms. Mecca’s job to find excurricular actives outside the shelter. Like free tickets to the Appolo theater or a off Broadway play which happens rarely, but it’s her job to see to it that there’s something different to see outside the shelter, and something different to do with having Zumba classes twice a week, don’t forget to take advantage of anger management.

The meeting lasts about 15 minutes. Nothing is ever done about the growing monds of toilet paper being wasted on the floor. There’s no body being reprimanded for leaving exposed cotex in the bathroom stall. And the ceral pooper hasn’t been found.

There is someone so disgusted by living in the shelter that descrate the showers. Which to me is just the icing on the cake for someone to take the time out of taking a shower and shit in the stall.

Or an unflushed toliet with shit floating in it. Woman in groups can be down right deplorable. But it’s not the staffs responsibly to remind clients to flush the toilet and wash their hands.

The director of social services, Ms. Turner is the one to conduct community meetings while Ms. Mecca keeps note of off topic requests.

At least there is community meetings where someone who is disgruntled learns about how distasteful their actions are, whether they are there or not.

I make it a point not to ruffle any feathers. I use the bathroom accordingly and wash my hands. I try not to spend too much time in the showers because I don’t want anyone with a self rightous oppnion to say anything to me.

I don’t take chances with trying to smoke in the bathroom. The only thing I do do is keep my lighter on me, tucking it in my bra because trying to get a lighter from security is like trying to pull teeth. There is never any lighters when you can freely go outside to smoke. The woman hoard them, and trying to bum a light is hard enough.

The shelter keeps on top of the community meetings, and is sure to have one once a month to make sure there’s a common ground for 200 woman at any given time. There’s usually 45 to 50 woman who crowd into the cafeteria for the monthly meeting. There’s always someone traslating in Spanish for those who speak Spanish.

This is life now. No more trying to finagle my SSI into a cell phone bill that has over charges and paying off retail credit. If I’m not trying to find something to do or find a place to sit down I can look forward to a community meeting.

Pay day

A small majority of the women get ssd in the shelter which means SSA can’t touch their money. They get a consistent paycheck once a month for 12 months.

Those women get about $1200 a month in disability benefits, and buy their own food even with putting 60% of their income in savings. The average income for SSI is $800.

I’ll be damned if I spent money on outside food. I don’t want to go broke. By the third week, no one has any money even on ssd, and alsot of the women scrap up loose change for looseys and clip cigarettes.

Nails have gotten wrapped and always on the first of the month the shelter is like a ghost town, everyone has left for the day to go shopping on fordam road.

A few woman smoke weed, so they buy their weed and smoke in the little park up the block from the shelter. They used to cop a corner of the building in one of the security exits and smoke but the cameras cought them so DHS asked them to please leave the premises with the weed.

Only a few woman are on pension plans where they get $1500 a month. SSD and pension your eligible for new York housing connect. SSI recipients are eligible for supportive housing,shared rooms, or room rentals.

It’s nice to be getting an income. I really had to bust my ass and wait for 5months for a determination but one lump sum is better then $45 dollars a month.

Since being in quarantine, for the next 3 months my next payday my money will most likely sit on the benefit card. I want to have something to give Ingrid for savings.

A little history

When I applied for social security income the first time ever, I was denied. I had only been hospitalized twice, and they didn’t find me disabled. I had to go for an appeal. Which meant a year long wait to go to court in down town Manhattan at civil court.

My daughter was 3 at the time, and I had a case manager named Natasha Phillips coming to see me once a week to make sure I was taking my medication and make sure I was ok. She was appointed by the hospital and I had no choice but let her come and visit me. She was nice and helped me apply for a Obama phone. My mother was working for democracy prep high school in east Harlem. Her job at ART oh mi was temporary but she soon landed a job at Democracy prep. She was making $75000 a year as the high school librarian. She was the bread winner, and I was just another mouth to feed.

I had been lying to snap with a letter I hand wrote myself with a factious address and phone number stating that I was baby sitting for $100 dollars a week. The offices don’t have enough leeway to cross reference letters or pay stubs so I was able to get snap with out having to go to work force. Work force is orientation for non working working people. They give you a test to see where you stand academically and Point you in the direction of a person who handles job fair. And your supposed to go to orientation to get help getting a job. They have jobs at staples and and security positions, and they don’t help with metro cards. Your suppose to run around New York City on their appointments given so you can keep your snap benefits. You have be doing something. Working or going to school. It wasn’t until I had to apply for welfare the very first time I learned this. I decided to go to Manhattan barbering school on 28th street and broadway. I had a student loan taken out and I was getting $64 dollars every two weeks in cash assistance and $597 in snap benefits. I still just a single mother of one child.

The course was 12 weeks and at the end I had to take the practical which was hard as fuck. It was given at the school and my father had his brother as my model He got a hair cut and a hot towel shave. I failed the master barbers test. I only had my temporary license. I was able to get a chair working in a barber shop in the Bronx off the the 2-3 train. I was in a shop with a bunch of men and I had no idea what I was doing that the manager of the shop had to finish my hair cuts. He wanted me to work on the beauticians side of the shop, it was a double shop one side was a barber shop the other side was beauty salon. But I didn’t have my license so I quit the job.

So then I found out that I didn’t have to apply for full welfare benefits I could just go to the snap office on 125th and 8th ave, someone told me to lie to them and just get a letter saying I was working so I didn’t have to go to child support court again. So I wrote a letter and I was Approved for snap benefits. My cash was coming from my mother. I didn’t have enough to get my nails done so Elaine was generous enough to pay for me keep my nails done. And when I wanted my hair braid I was steal my mother debit card and take out $100 so I could go to 125th street and between 6th and 7th ave to my girl Kane to get my hair braided in an African hair braiding shop that I had been going to for some time.

I was still applying for job and getting some interviews but never called to start working. Until I got job working with a veterinarian as front desk reception. He delt primarliy with Cats, located on 79th and broadway. I got fired from the job because I screwed up the paper work on the computer. I got paid $80 dollars. I didn’t even last two weeks on the job.

So when I found out I could lie to snap thats what I did. I had snap for 6 months until recertfication, and the same rules would apply. I would have to bring in a copy of the lease, a letter that I was working or pay stubs, and wait to be seen by one of the snap officers. This went on for some time and as long as I was putting food on the table no one said any thing. I did still try to find work. I lied on my resume and used my friends as references like when I was working for the town shop which was a lingerie shop on broad way and 81st street.

So when I was hospitalized, then hospitalized a second time, Natasha told me to apply for SSI, that I may not get approved the first time but I could do an appeal and go to court. Surly enough Thats what happened.

Natasha met me down town by 8am to go to court. It was was in July. My father came by the apartment to baby sit for me and I went down to the court houses.

When you do an appeal you have to write to SSA and give a reason why you want to appeal the decision made in your case, and you have to do it online. I had a little notebook laptop called an EEEpc my father bought me for Christmas. I had to make a social security profile and submit To a questionnaire form. I was given a reference number and in a few days a letter in the mail with my court date attached to it. I had no money for a year. I was getting $20 a week from my mother or when I needed money for appointments with snap. I was given laundry money to do mine and my daughters laundry and I spent my time home with my daughter.

I went to my bi weekly appointments with outpatient care on 114th street and Amsterdam with my therapist Chris Wilson and my psychologist Ricardo Miller. I was given a metro card at he clinic to get back home, then I had my weekly visits with Natasha.

Natasha worked for a program called Post graduates on 23rd street. Her job was to visit mentally challenge people at home to make sure medication was being taken and if needed fill out a 2010e. I wasn’t eligible for a 2010e because I already had shelter and I was a single mother . You have to be living in a shelter and not have children, and be recieving SSI. She was in charge of placement of 2010e like moving someone into a group home and things of that nature.

My daughter wasn’t school age yet so Natasha tried her best to help me get her into day care but I had to be working in order to get her into day care. So I would spend most of my time pushing the stroller to Barnes and noble and coming back to feed her lunch. Alot of time was spent in front of the Tv. Because I was on Zyrexia I was groggy. It was a anti psychotic drug. Which left me incompassitated. I would sleep until noon leaving my daughter to fend for herself while my mother went to her 9-5 job. I couldn’t get up out of sleep. So as my mother left She would leave the house phone by my head and my daughter would be up playing with her toys while the tv was on. My mother would feed her breakfast.

It was July when I had to make a court appearance at civil court. My appointment was at 9am. I was there by 8 am waiting outside for Natasha to show up. She was my witness. If you need to bring someone with you to court like a case manager or a family member it was written in the questionaire I had to fill out online.

The judge was given a letter from my psychologist stating that I was unable to work because I was in intensive outpatient care at the psychologists office and that I was a good candidate for SSI. The judge read the letter and told me not to move to expect a letter in the mail in 7-10 days with a determination. In about 5 days I got a letter in the mail it was my award letter. I had to go to the social security office which used to be located on 55 west 125th but moved to 209 west 127th street and 7th ave.

When I went that Monday morning to to the social security office I learned that I would only be getting paid $421 a month but if I brought a letter back from my mother stating I was paying utilities I would get the full benefit amount of $733. So I came back with a letter from my mother, and they called her to verify. So once a month on the first I was getting $733 a month. I got retro active pay in a span of 6 months I got a deposit in my td bank account for $3600 I gave my mother half, the $3200 then another $3600 dollars. I gave my mother half of all the back pay. I spent the rest of it on clothes for myself and my daughter and bought a phone. My mother already had ATT so she let me get an iPhone and the cell phone bill was my responsibility. My son was starting high school and needed a phone so my mother took him to ATT and got him an iPhone. He was attending Essex street academy in china town. So I had 3 phone lines that I was responsible for paying. The bill was $125 a month.

I was feeling myself. I had an iPhone and Elaine had just moved to jersey city she had had her second child and was goin through a divorce. She had an iPhone and we would face time each other and talk all the time. My son said to me its business phone Im not doing anything why did I have an iPhone. When he started high school is when things begin to change between him and I. He was more arrogant and told me about myself more then one occasion. He was acting out and smoking weed by the 9th grade and hanging out with older boys from the building. But what could I do, his father wasn’t around. He was still a good kid but our relationship was rocky. I was only good on the first of the month I got paid, he would hit me up for money so he could go out with his friends.

Before ATT had grandfathered back in unlimited everything we where on a data plan. So the bill was always escalating. The bill rose to $300 and thats when My son was in the 11th grade and started working for insomnia cookies. So my mother and I switched to Sprint and got new iPhones and my son had ATT which he paid his $90 bill with his pay check. I thought if I could show him responsiblity it would be to pay his own cell phone bill, but most of the time my mother paid it because he was always using his money to buy weed and fix his bike at the bike shop. If it wasn’t the tires it was the spokes.

By the time My daughter was in kindergarten the sprint bill was almost $500 a month, because I added tablets and I had a subscription to beats music. I had $75 dollars left after all my little bills where paid, and the laundry still hadn’t been washed. My mother was paying to wash my laundry.

My daughter got left back in kindergarten, she was being tested for a learning disability by the school, but they wanted to wait until she was in the first grade.

We had switched from time Warner cable to Verizon fios and I had Verizon fios put in my name so I could have a bill in my name so when I went to the DMV for my state Identification I could prove my address. I was still using a passport, and I had a ticket in my name for not wearing a seat belt, even though I had just taken it off when I was parked in front of the building after coming home from a lousy date, where I was date raped. He had made me drink his seaman after a blow job. then drove me back home and treated to leave me on a road in Queens, but ended up driving me home and getting a speeding ticket, and I got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I met the guy on black planet. And I was also Cat fished. It wasn’t the same guy from the pictures, but I still went on the date. I ended up getting pregnant and having an abortion.

I was always with out money by the time I got my SSI. I was good for a couple of months but when we switched from time Warner to Verizon fios I was always broke. My mother never asked me to contribute to the house hold because I was bringing the food stamps. I was putting food on the table. By the time I got my SSI I was up for recertification, I had to bring my award letter and a copy of the rent to recertification on 125th street. I wasn’t off zyprexia but my doctor had recalibrated my medication intake and instead of 25 milligrams I was put on 15 milligrams which helped. I was able to get up in the morning and take my daughter to school.

So it wasn’t until I started seeing my therapist and psychologist once month that I decided to go back to school. I only had had one problem with SSI which brought me to their offices they said I was over paid and they didn’t pay me one month, but quickly fixed the problem and the next day I was issued my money.

It was 2016, I enrolled at empire beauty school. Determined to get off Welfare and Close my ssi case and have a normal job, I was seeing my therapist and pscyhologist the entire time I was in school. I had to leave early on the day I had to travel from 34th Street to 114th on the 1 train. When I graduated I won award for time management. I had 98% attendence. I was at school by 8:30 am every day after dropping my daughter off at school, I was paying for after school which my mother took over payments because I couldn’t keep up with it and the cell phone bill.

I wanted a career not just a job. I was in deferment with my student loans so when I got approved for financial aid I was too happy. I got a pell grant to pay for school, which meant I got a check once a month from the bersus office of $225.

I was feeling myself, but panicked every time I got on the train. I would have to tell myself that I was just going to school. I was just taking the train, I would listen to music while on the train so I wouldn’t have to hear other peoples conversations.

I had already been receiving SSI for 4 years. So when I started School, I met Tamara, who owned a beauty salon on 106th and Columbus ave. She drove a Mercedes Benz and lived in the Bronx. I got her name and number from one of Elaines friends named Faye. I decide to have my hair cut into a pixie. My hair was pretty long about shoulder length, I had it relaxed and cut into the style I desired. I decided that shorter hair would be easier. And this was a sign I know now that when I do something dramatic its my bipolar acting up. I paid $85 dollars to have my hair done. Not thinking of the cost for up keep. I had bought all new clothes in black for school, and I had a disablity metro card in place which Natasha had taken me to Water street by the ferry to apply for before graduating out of post graduates. I no longer needed case management. I had case management for almost 3 years.

So I would put $35 dollars on my metro card which allowed me to ride the train for $1.35 per ride instead of $2.25 per ride. And that was for the month to get back and forth to and from school. I brought my lunch from home because there where micro waves or I bought lunch out or I didn’t even eat lunch when I was in school. It all depended on how much money I had.

So When I recertified with SSI for snap benefits, recertification was now every year, and not every 6 months. But thats all I had was snap and SSI. It wasn’t until I was in school that I learned section 8 was closed in New York City, but you can apply for section 8 outside of New York City there was a website with an online portal for the application process.

It wasn’t until after I resigned from the dry bar and go fired from manicube that I applied for welfare one last time. My son was 20 years old and my daughter was going on 10. Because he was working I had to put him on the budget and when he refused to go to orientation I decided that If I couldn’t get cash assistance then my mother couldn’t get the rent check. I don’t know why she let me have a bank account in her name but I guess she trust that I was make lucrative money reselling on mercari, which I was. I had made $600 and gave it to her. I also made made $100 dollars her and there, but I was selling off prized possestions like Beats head phones and video games and gently used clothes.

So I would check the mail, and take the checks and deposit them into the checking account at bank of America the bank I choose to open in her name. I would forge her signature and keep the $145 every two weeks.

My cash assistance was $145 every two weeks and that was with going to child support court. I was given $75 every two weeks from my daughters father but it went into arrears. I had gone to court 7 times, because William, my daughters father was scheduled for a phone conference from Pennsylvina. Then I had found a way to sign out of going to see my psychologist and therapist, so I was on my own.

I only collected 4 checks then cut off welfare after I was done with court. I went to reapply for just snap benefits. I ran into a snag, because my son was working I would still have to include his income on my budget. He was working for cash and didn’t get pay stubs. So I quickly learned that Even being head of household on the budget I was responsible for him under the same roof until he was 27 years old. I could no longer get food stamps. And I tried. I used the app and I went to the office and They wouldn’t let me get snap benefits.

This is when things took a turn for the worst and I let my daughter stay home for a week and an acs investigation was done on me and I was evicted from my mothers apartment. There was nothing but arguing going on, it was a span of couple of days when I found out the bad news about my snap benefits and when I got kicked out that when I tell you I was hearing voices I was hearing voices.

They where coming out from the Television. I was talking to myself. I thought I was in the FBI witness protection program and I thought Diddy was talking to me though the camera portal in the television.

I had bought a pit bull I named Harlow and brought her home. I told my mother she was a gift from a friend for when I move to Cohoes New York. I had a year on the waiting list for public housing. That didn’t mean I got the apartment it just meant to meet with the housing specialist for choice voucher. I called myself crate training the puppy and even though they fell in love with Harlow she is what broke the straw on the camels back.

I was sharing the master bedroom with my daughter at this point. My mother was in the living room. We decided to switch rooms because my son was coming home from work late and I didn’t want his noise to interfere with my daughters sleep for school, and with him leaving his bike in the living room, my space, there was nothing but arguing going on. So my mother suggested that we switch rooms, and that allowed me and my daughter more privacy. We had maintenance come up and help us rearrange the rooms.

So now its been a year. I don’t know how I made it living on the street for 3 months, that sleeping in a gazebo was the best memory I have from being in the street. I spent my days walking back and forth, stealing from dune Reade and spending my day in the time Warner shops building. People where giving me food and helping me with money they knew I was homeless. I was in central bookings to prove my identity and also for shop lifting. Being thrown out of mcdonlads and arrested for loitering. And with in a year and half managed to get my SSI back and now have to worry about my future. Im facing jury duty when I move and learning how to travel the Bronx is a big deal. And I thought I would have been able to make it on $733 with my daughter, even though she started receiving benefits.

I applied for Buffalo, Newark ny, tarry town, Florida, Massachustes, ohio, main, Vermont and some other places. How was I going to get there? I couldn’t afford a seat on a plane to and from. I didn’t know how to get am track. I also applied for Newark New Jersey housing development.

I went so far as to research mitchellama apartments in Manhattan down loaded and printed the application and sent it off by mail just so I could have my own apartment. I didn’t have money for furniture or a cup to drink out of. I didn’t know that when you move you have to go to the DMV and get a new identification with your new address on it. I didn’t know when you move you have to tell social security administration that you have a lease if your receiving benefits. I have to find the snap office for my location when I move. I have a lot on my plate to think about. I might end up in a group home.

So now this month is the first month I actually got paid from SSA, and I got May and June in one check on my direct express card. So when I got SSI the first time, I literally didn’t know how to act. And I was hospitalized also. I have been in the psych ward so many time that each time I was admitted the staff remembered my name.

The longest time I was in the hospital was right before I made it to Franklyn woman assessment shelter. I was hospitlized for two months, and all the while I was in the hospital I was hearing voices. I was counting security cameras to see if and when Diddy logged in to check on me. I was having conversations with myself about remember I had the eee pc, (the mini laptop my father bought me) and the poetry I wrote.

I also spent my time in the library pretending to read the boring selection of books they had in the hospital, not once did I ask about being discharged. I felt safe in the hallways of the psych ward. I was given 3 meals a day and I had a shower and note book to write my poetry in, in pencil.

I remember when I was living on the street, I had gotten food poisening. I was on 98th and Columbus ave inside star bucks. someone had given me $20 to get something to eat, so I got a Starbucks sandwich and a frapachino. I stayed until they closed. So I quickly went down the block to Petco and locked myself in the bathroom and spent the night in Petco. I was vomiting all night. It wasn’t until the manager of the store came to open up the store at 7am that she checked the bathroom and found me in there and told me to leave before she called the cops on me. She had her phone in her hand and recorded me getting up off the floor and leaving. The only reason she knew I was there because Petco has motion detectors inside the store. So when my stomach had calmed down, I left the bathroom to look for something I could make a pillow out of so I could lay down and get some sleep.

I was delusional the whole time I was out on the street, I kept getting asked if I needed help. I turned away Goddard assessment team which came around in the vehicle to see if any body needed help with getting into a shelter. I didn’t know it was against the law to be homeless, thats when I was sitting in the train station the cops even told me if I didn’t have anywhere to go I could go to a shelter they would take me. I said I had someplace to go. I was planning on staying on the street. It wasn’t hard to come up off a couple of dollars. People where feeding me and I had made a friend at Lincoln square who was buying me lunch and giving me a coupe of dollars.

The mind of a a schizophrenic. I had slept in the rain one night in the gazzebo on 58th street. I slept under a tarp I stole from a cart park outside someplace, probably from a panhandler who left their cart outside. And I lucked out on a pack of cigarettes. There was a stray cat that came and made friends with me, not once was I thinking about home. I thought I would see my family again I just had to do this one thing to prove myself to The FBI that watching me in glass eye so I could be reunited with Diddy and I would be able to see my family again.

Its been a long year. Now I have much to face living alone for the first time. I have a lot to take care of. First is the loneliness, everything else will follow. I have to say I made my bed, now I have to lay in it. I can’t even say I blame myself, its my mental health that is at play. I have all the time in the world to become and be creative now that I have the things I need like a laptop tablet and phone. But I have a lot to face, one day at a time.

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?

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.