The holidays…

The Christmas holiday is the hardest time for me as of right now. My daughter’s birthday is December 21st, she will be 13 years old and I’m not there to share the time with her.

I always called her my Christmas miracle as my intended due date was Christmas but I had a planned c section for the 21st. By December 24th I had brought her home spending Christmas Eve with my two kids. She was home for Christmas.

She was the most perfect baby. She never cried or gave me any problems. By month 4 she was sleeping through the night.

Now it’s a week shy of my daughters birthday, and I cannot celebrate it with her. I wonder what the family is going to do to celebrate her 13th birthday.

Traditionally my step father would always come over with a prepared meal to celebrate birthdays and he would bring a cake. I wonder if they are going to do that this year.

Last year I bought a brownie and celebrated my daughter’s birthday alone at a cafteria table.

Last year for Christmas I laid in my bed until the raffle started in the cafeteria. The shelter had gifts for everyone who participated. I won socks and cotext. But I couldn’t help but wonder how my kids where celebrating.

I wonder if they have the tree up in the apartment, and decorations. I wonder what they want for Christmas.

This Christmas I’m just going to stay in bed all day. There’s nothing else to do. All I can do is imagine what Christmas is like for my children and hope that they get everything they deserve and want.

The shelter is apart of my story….

I never thought I’d be in a shelter, let alone a micha shelter. But it’s apart of my story now.

There’s something unique that I take from living in a shelter. Trying to conform myself into living out of a locker and a twin size army bed, but I did it.

Having to start from scratch with everything from having a phone to going to the ssa doctors, even being on welfare and being approved for disablity so I didn’t have to do the job fair. I still had to go to we care every other week for check ins. I will definitely not miss the four hour wait to see a case manager.

Having to start over has been one of the hardest things I have had to do. I was really able to catch up during the six months at the hotel and buying the things I needed because I didn’t have to put 60% of my income in escrow.

Being in the shelter has changed my outlook on things, and should anything happen I know I can go back to Susan’s place. That’s my only in case of emergency place I can go to.

It really is a different lifestyle living in a shelter, with having to see social services case manager every week to keep your bed and make sure you are getting your entitlements and keep your profile updated.

It helped me be a little bit more structured with maintaining myself. Now I live in an environment where my benefits are maintained for me, I don’t have to go to ssa office or snap office to maintain my entitlements.

I have learned how to live off $15 dollars a day. I haven’t been taking the money because the benefits coordinator is working on getting my benefits back off the three month hitus from living in the shelter. I moved right when things took place.

If I was at the shelter I would be applying for welfare and getting $22.50 biweekly and $194 in snap benefits. I really don’t know how they maintain the case that have to be opened from the hotel because you have to go we care.

All I know is having to be on welfare was the hardest thing to go through. I couldn’t get anything with $45 dollars a month.

I would go to bed right after dinner and just lay in my bed until bed check which was at 10pm. Bed check is where staff comes round with a clipboard and the list of dormmates would be on printed paper for each dorm, and you had to sign for your bed.

Then I got approved for SSI, and a check came in the mail. I got my cell phone and tablet and put money on a prepaid card so I could stream Hulu Netflix, and Starz. I bought some clothes, and took Yvonne to eat with me at Jimbo’s. Then I was in the three month hitus with SSI. I really didn’t start recieving my benefits until May and I got it in June. May and June together, that’s when I bought the laptop from Amazon prime.

Instead of getting my hair braided I invested in human hair wigs so I didn’t have to pay to get my hair done. I pretty much got everything I needed for the spring summer months with already having fall and winter clothes in my locker, the last things I purchased was UGGs boots with my stimulus check.

I still have to worry about my cable bill and my cell phone bill which I had previously put almost $600 dollars on my plan so get me through the next 5 months. I have two more months before I have to worry about my bill with MetroPCS. Im hoping that my benefits will pick up soon from the transfer. I have a $59 dollars left in my account with the money manger. They took three weeks rent from my account. So after I pay my cable bill I’m going to return the cable box and equipment, and just wait until I get my benefits back. I am still streaming Amazon prime video and HBO max.

But living in the shelter has helped me more frugal. I don’t take for granted the things I have and aquired throughout the process.

I remember when I had nothing but welfare, I would save up the money so I could by panties and I bought a pair of pants. Now I don’t have to worry about these things anymore and living off $15 dollars a day doesn’t seem so bad even though I don’t take it. I only take it on the weekends.

Being apart of the shelter system has changed me in ways that I wasn’t aware of until I found myself in the living situation I’m in now.

I took a walk to CVS and there was a homeless person squating near an open vent in the street. He was huddled over the heat and was wrapped up in a blanket. I couldn’t help but remember when I was on the street and I was looking for a place to sleep. It’s a lonely place to be on the street. Alot of people with mental health issues are on the street.

I’m thankful to Susan’s place. I didn’t have what I wanted but I got what I needed. Everything was a process. From getting a copy of my birth certificate and social security card to applying for welfare. The long wait for an award letter from SSA.

I remember living on the street and people would just hand me food and money with out me begging for it.

It wasn’t until the cops stopped me and called for Ems that I knew that living on the street would end, not knowing that I would be given a social worker to place me at Franklin woman’s assessment shelter.

It’s the hardest thing to admit to yourself that your homeless especially when your going through a psychosis.

The help was definitely needed. It’s been three years since all of that has happened. I have to say I’m in a better place mentally then I was three years ago.

But living in a shelter has become part of my story.

Applying for SSI…

When I officially applied for SSI was at the we care office with the SSI unit.

We did the paperwork even though I had a phone conference scheduled for August 11th of last year. I was going to use Ms. Smith’s phone and be in the social services office, but the SSI unit decided to help me with my benefits.

I still had to meet with Ms. Smith on August 11th just in case ssa called for the appointment. We waited one hour for the phone conference that never happened.

About a week later, I got a questionnaire in the mail from SSA asking about my disablities. I filled it out as best as I could and had it mailed out. By then I had a SafeLink number which was needed for the application, because ssa would call with an appointment time for me to see their doctors.

After I mailed the application off, about a week and a half later I got a voicemail from SSA to call a number for my appointment time which was also followed up by mail.

My appointment time was 8am and 8:30am. One was to see the psychiatrist and the other their interest for the rhumtoid arthritis. I was to bring my can with me to the appointment which was in Pelem bay.

I made the appointment getting their early, I had to fill out a questionnaire about my current status mentally and my last hospitalizations, which was hard to remember.

I was first seen by the psychiatrist which was all of five minutes. Then I had to wait in the waiting room. About a half hour later I was seen by the internist I had to change into the gown they provided.

The doctor checked my joints and luckily that day I was swollen and stiff.

After my appointment, the wait for a determination. I waited five and a half months for an approval. I thought I was going to have to appeal the decision which would prolong my stay in the shelter. But I received an award letter instead.

I went that Monday early to the ssa office and after I was cleared to manage my own benefits I decided on getting the direct express card which ssa uses to pay benefits instead of a paper check.

I did get my first initial payment by paper check. I was too happy to receive the money so I could get myself together. The only clothes I had was from the shelter donations and they where too tight. It’s hard being plus size in this type of situation. I was too happy to have found a pair of black jeans which where high water but I wore them reluctantly.

But to prove that your disabled is the hardest thing to do because they may not find you disabled enough.

But I was awarded $783 a month plus $23 from the state. So in total I get $806 a month which is the same as working for minimum wage.

I have really been able to catch up on everything I need, and even splurge a little.

But now if I want something I have to save up for it as I won’t have access to my funds anymore. But there’s nothing I really need. I pretty much have everything I need from wigs to ugh boots. My cell phone is paid up for 5 months.

I don’t know what I would spend $15 dollars a day on. Besides coffee in the morning, I really don’t have anything that I want or need. I’m quitting smoking because it’s too expensive a habit to keep.

Even though I was awarded SSI, I still feel like shit that I can’t work to make my own salary. I have problems keeping a job, and if anything should happen my only recourse is the shelter. I literally have no place else to go which is depressing. But I’m thankful that I had the shelter and had basic health care met. I was able to get my tooth fixed where a filling had come out.

But my goal is to stay on ssi for as long as possible, because I’m trying to wipe my student loans with the forgiveness program.

I don’t really see myself working because I don’t know how I’m going to manage seeing a psychiatrist once a month and finding a balance of having to take my meds between 10:30 and 11:45am if I’m going to have to be at work at like 8-9 am.

No one living at St.francis is working, everyone is recieving some sort of benefit.

I remember when I had nothing but $22.50 every two weeks, I would talk to people in the shelter about winning an award letter. Everyone was positive that I would receive my benefits.

Being on welfare is no trip in the park while your living in a shelter. The system is geared to give you just what you need as everything was provided for me at the shelter. It’s not a get rich scheme. The shelter gets a rent check for me living there. It’s a business.

While you don’t get paid for three months from SSI, your expected to keep a welfare case open. You have to have some sort of income. Which the three months over lap and you end up getting welfare and SSI.

Being on ssi is a godsend. It really is a blessing to be able to stay home and try and work through my issues and problems while collecting an income. Although I feel a certain way about myself being on it, it is very much needed and helpful.

Spoke to Ruby today…

Ruby called me from her new apartment. So far she just has an air mattress, she waiting for the furniture budget to come through so she can get a table and chairs, a bed, and possibly a dresser.

She’s not going to get her tv until next month, she going to set her self up with basic cable.

The building that she moved into a few clients from the shelter also live there. She said she likes the building and everything is working out for her.

Her daughter bought her a shopping cart so she can do her grocery shopping.

She ended up buying the things that she needed for her kitchen and stocked up on food.

She is just happy to be out of the shelter and the hotel. The shelter isnt a stressful environment but it’s nice to have freedom again.

We talked about the fight she had with another client who ended up getting transferred to her hotel from the hotel I was staying in. The girls name is Nelly.

Ruby and Nelly fought over the television in the cafeteria because Nelly didn’t want the channel changed from the ID network, Ruby was watching law and order. It started an argument which lead to a slap fight led on by Nelly. It got broken u by security and DHS. DHS ended up leaving law and order on because the problem was that Nelly had left the room when Ruby had asked security to change the channel.

Ruby talked about how she hated that Nelly was transferred to her hotel. Nelly ended up apologizing for the fight, but it still didn’t sit right with Ruby.

I’m glad things are working out for Ruby, but she still has to have a fair hearing about her over payment of her benefits. Which is what I’m going through now. Ssa has down that I’m not living alone, but I am. I have to wait for the fair hearing appointment time to come in the mail.

I’m sure Ruby will have everything worked out as she has a health care coordinator to help her with her business.

Maintaining SSI is no joke. Ssa will find any reason to make you pay back funds or garnish your payments and it is so hard to get approved. The wait time is almost six months to get an approval letter in the mail.

I remember when I got my approval notice in the mail, it was a Friday. That Monday I went to the ssa office to start getting paid. It was the longest two hours I had to have an ssa judge tell me that I may have needed an agency to pay me because they have down that I couldn’t manage my funds. Then I had to wait to speak to someone and go through a battery of questions to make sure I could maintain my benefits. Then I was approved.

A few days later I got a check in the mail for $745 and another $23 dollars from the state. Ruby went with me to cash the check at the check cashing place in Burnside ave. From there I went to MetroPCS and got my phone and tablet.

A week later I got my first lump sum of back pay. I spent money on my cell phone bill and bought clothes from Amazon and rainbows. I also put $1500 dollars away for when I move.

Ruby said when she got her back pay she was heavily into coke and spent most of her back pay partying and sniffing coke.

She’s been on ssi for 10 years now and she said she has nothing but problems. She said she wouldn’t know what to do if she ever lost her SSI. She’s never worked. I can barely keep a job. I totally feel the same way.

Ruby is also having another tooth pulled. She has gingervititis and her teeth aren’t too healthy. She said she had an abscess on her lower jaw and a tooth ache. Her daughter knows of a dentist in Harlem that will pull the tooth under sedation. So her daughter is going to make an appointment for her so they can go to the dentist.

She’s trying to get the decayed teeth pulled so she can get false teeth. She’s been working towards that goal since we where in the shelter. But she kept missing the dental appointments the clinic had for her because she didn’t want to skip a day going to her program.

I hope Ruby gets her false teeth so she doesn’t feel so self conscience. But all she is worried about is trying to find out when seamark pros opens back up so she can attend her program.

My benefits…

The money manager who coordinates the benefits told me that I should be receiving last months and this months benefits and everything is good for January for them to receive my benefits.

Their leasion at social security is working out of a different office and there was a form that was missing from my file, so Steve the coordinator faxed it over.

I didn’t think it would take that long to transfer over my benefits to the account they have set up for me. But because of the three month hitus while living in the shelter prolonged everything.

At least it’s being worked on. Soon I’ll get my daily allowance, my rent will be paid and I can keep my cable.

Student loan forgiveness program

My application was approved for student loan forgiveness program. Now I have one less thing to worry about.

I’m still waiting on my benefits to start back up. This was the problem I was afraid to face while moving. Now it’s up to social security when they are going to pay me because I’m no longer in the shelter.

Saint Francis is my payee, Which I rather like. I thought it would be problematic but it’s to prevent me from going broke. But as of right now I’m more concerned with having enough money to pay my cable bill. I have cash on hand for my cell phone bill and I just checked my snap benefits and I still get one more ebt deposit for food stamps. So I’m going to use them sparingly.

I have been moved in now 5 weeks, and I have to say I actually like the program that they have in place for the tenants. For the most part it’s independent living, but they have poetry on Mondays at 1pm in the lounge, which I sit in and listen. People take turns reading from poetry books from the mini library that they have in one of the studio rooms.

But since getting cable TV I have been cooped up in my unit. This week they didn’t have poetry because the woman Janet who mantains the group wasn’t in this week.

Every other Tuesday I see my psychiatrist. Now I’m just waiting for my health insurance to transfer over so I can see the doctor they have on staff so I can get a referral to a rhumtoligist, the dentist, and gyn. The last doctor I saw was at susans place, and when I turn 40 I have to get a mammogram which I’m not looking forward to.

But so far so good. Everything seems to be working out.

I got in contact with Ruby…

Instead of calling I sent her a text thinking that she would see it, and she did. I told her to call me when she got the message.

She ended up getting her check from SSA and moved into her studio apartment. She’s currently waiting for the furniture budget from HRA to be given to her.

I’m so happy for Ruby. She said her studio apartment is very big. She lives near the Bronx zoo. She seems like she happy with everything.

I was hoping things would work out for her and she wouldn’t have to be stuck in the shelter for another three months.

I hope everything keeps working out for her.

I still haven’t gotten my benefits…

The only thing I got paid was the state portion of my SSI. They gave me $23 dollars three times.

The benefits coordinator said I should be receiving the back log of the first months check and the rest goes to them in my account with them.

I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to survive with out any money. I have $500 in cash from my stimulus check, but I’m going to have to put money on my cell phone bill, and then I have $487 with my account with the money manager, but I have cable to pay. I don’t have food stamps anymore which the benefits coordinator is going to do an application for me. But I’m running low on funds and I still won’t get my actual benefits until February if things don’t switch over.

I just hope that things switch over soon, or I’m going to turn in my cable box until I get my benefits.

The benefits coordinator had until November 15th to put in for the change. They did everything before the 15th. Now it’s just up to ssa when I will be receiving my benefits.

Things will work out, my direct express account is still open. I want to be able to pay my rent which I’m a month behind, but they know the situation. If I get my benefits in February I’ll be three months behind in rent. But they already have things configured for me.

I wonder how Ruby is holding up. I still can’t get in contact with her. At lease I have some money on reserve. I’ll be damned if I have my phone shut off. Then I will have to end up with a new number. It’s cheaper to pay a couple of months upfront. This is what I was telling Ruby to do, but she really doesn’t want to run low on money or fear she won’t be able to to give her daughter money.

I just hope Ruby is getting everything that she needs. Three months is a long time to go with out income especially when you have habits like smoking.

Well hopefully things will work out very soon for the both of us.

Rachel again…

Yesterday I wished Rachel a happy Thanksgiving. She is so proned to complaining.

She hates that she’s not working and living in the shelter. She claims someone snuck into her room at the hotel and broke her charger, the same charger she bought off of me. She has an assurance wireless phone.

She asked me if I had another charger, I told her even if I did I wasn’t going to travel out of my way to give it to her, she would have to break down and buy a charger at the corner store up the block from the hotel.

Then she said she is running low on body spray and lotion and everyone is spraying Victoria secrets around her she feels like a bum because she hasn’t gotten her Victoria secrets.

As many times as I offered to go with her when I was at the hotel she declined because she was never feeling well. But she would want me to spend my money and buy it for her which I didn’t.

Rachel has too many issues that one person can’t deal with. She really needs to be under psychatric care and be on a mood stabilizer. I think she’s bipolar or has some form of ptsd.

She always has a complaint, from not feeling well to agoraphobia. I don’t know how she is going to be able to with stand working. She has a serious problem. She has to find a way out of her current issues with agoraphobia in order to get into the work force. Her problem is that she wants everyone to like her so she spends her food stamps buying random woman in the hotel food on her food stamps then complains that people are talking about he because she is poorly dressed. Most of her clothes came from the shelter.

I don’t know what she’s going to do once everything goes back to normal and they are back in the shelter. She has to substain a program for work force and the job center in order to continue collecting welfare. She’s already been in the shelter for a year, and hasn’t completed the program she was actively in because the pandemic happened.

She was transferred from the stadium shelter by Yankee stadium. If she doesn’t comply they may transfer her to the susans place in the city.

I really feel that Rachel will be stuck in the shelter system just getting transferred from one shelter to another. All she’s accostomed to is minium wage jobs. It would be easier for her to have a health profile and try to get on ssi.

She was in a program for construction where she would be making $12 dollars an hour. While at the hotel she’s on monster and indeed in her assurence wireless phone applying for jobs. Mecca, one of the coordinators has jobs posted on the ground floor by the office, I told Rachel to apply for one of them. She said she doesn’t want to work in the Bronx where most of the jobs are located. I told her something is better then nothing.

All she’s relying on is if she gets a stimulus check to hold her over until she finds a job. I told her she may not get a stimulus check. The second one is no garentee.

I hope Rachel can pull it together and find a way out of the shelter.

Still can’t get in contact with Ruby….

I call Ruby at least twice a day, it just rings until voicemail picks up. I don’t bother leaving her a voicemail because I know she doesn’t know how to check it.

It’s so fustrating trying to get in contact with someone who doesn’t know how to use a cell phone.

I would text her but she doesn’t know how to retrieve the messages. I feel like my time with knowing Ruby is almost over as her cell phone isn’t going to get paid for the next month.

I really just want to find out if she was able to get welfare and if she has to wait to move loosing the apartment that the housing specialist found for her.

Most likey she lost the apartment because of the three month hiatus with SSI. They really didn’t plan accordingly around her benefits schedule.

I wonder where they are going to place her next. If I don’t get in contact with her, I wish her well and hope that things work out for her. She was eager to leave the shelter and start her life outside the restrictions of the shelter life.

I just hope that she doesn’t over extend herself with her daughter and granddaughter with giving them money.

Ruby has another problem with her benefits, ssa told her that she was getting over paid and she has to pay it back.

When I first met Ruby she was getting $597 a month in SSI benefits. Then it jumped to $700. Now she getting paid $806 a month. I don’t know how they could have over paid her for a year and some time but she has to pay it back.

If they start giving her the original amount of $597 she’s not going to be able to substatain her own apartment, they may place her in a shared apartment or a room which is cheaper then an apartment. But I don’t know if she’s working with a citypheps voucher or an hra2010e. I think she’s working with a citypheps voucher which is worse because after five years if it doesn’t rejuvenate in the system because of lack of funds from the state she’s going to be back in the shelter.

I really don’t want to loose contact with Ruby, but she doesn’t plan accordingly. Now she has a cellphone plan that will most likey go into collections. She has my number but she doesn’t know how to transfer numbers into a new device.

I feel like time is ticking on our friendship. Maybe it’s not meant to stay in contact with her given all the problems she has with staying in contact and being able to pay her cell phone bill. She would have been better off with just an assurence wireless phone but that comes with responsibility as well, because you have to recertify every 8 months or the phone gets cut off.

Nothing is permenant when it comes to Ruby unfortunately. I think she will most likey end up back in the shelter in a few years as I don’t think she can maintain living alone.

Her world revolves around smoking cigarettes and payday. Her daughter should be taking money from her and saving it for Ruby instead of using it for the things she claims she needs.

Now Ruby is going to be a great grandmother again because her daughter’s oldest child is pregnant which means they are going to hit her up for money for diapers like her grandson did.

I feel bad for Ruby, because she doesn’t have the knowledge on her own to say no she can’t afford to support everyone.

I hope Ruby is able to climb out of the debt she’s accumulated so she can find a place to live.