When I had no identification, I had to get my EBT card at a job center from HRA on union square and 14th street. The office open at 9am. I got there bright and early leaving the shelter at 8am, I had gotten a metro card from Craig the receptionist that Wednesday. It was a Friday that I went to union square. I got there at about 8:45 am. There was already a line that had formed outside the job center. I don’t know why they call it a job center it wasn’t work force. It was an office like the DMV. The security checks your ID, and if you don’t have identification you have to sign on the clip board your current address and your name.

So I signed my name and then waited on line to get my EBT card. I hadn’t been to We care or BEV yet. I was approved for emergency assistance so by the time I got my card, my benefits would be on my card. I was finger imaged and told to go to another window so I could pick u my card. I had to select a PIN number on the key pad. I had gotten my card, and went across the street to Duane reades just to use the card. It was financial freedom, I just wanted to see if I had gotten my snap, so I bought a bottle of water on my snap. The balance on the receipt reflected my cash assistence, I had $15 dollars.

That Monday, I had an appointment to go to BEV which is the beauro of investigations for HRA. They give you a questionnaire which you have to fill out your name, and address. Last known employer, and if you had any property in your name like a car or a house. The whole appointment took about 2 hours. I was finally called to see an investigator. Abdul had already bought me sweat pants and two t- shirts, The sweat pants where high water and too tight, and I had on converse high top sneakers I found on the donations table in my size.

The investigator asked me about my previous work history, and if I had anything under my name like a life insurance policy or if I was receiving SSI. she asked me for my phone number which I didn’t have the phone yet, so the interview went fairly smoothly. she gave me the recipt that stated I made it to the appointment, which I needed to give back to HRA also with the receipt from We Care.

I left and asked for directions to get back on the train. The 6 train was about 3 blocks away near a McDonalds. The Blocks in the Bronx are long, so I lit up a ciggarette and walked and smoked a while walking to the train. I had to take the 6 train to 125th and then transfer to the 4 to 176th street in the South Bronx. Its about a 45 minute train ride. The train wasn’t stopping at 176th street, I had to get off on the next stop which was Burnside.

That Wednesday I had an appointment with WE care. I had was given single ride metro cards from HRA when I applied for emergency assistance, they give you metro cards so you can get to We care and BEV. But the shelter has van request service, so the van took me to BEV, and I had to come back on my own. And the same thing with We care. I had to take the BX2 bus on the grand concourse to east tremont ave. so I asked the bus driver if he could tell me when it was east tremont. I stood in the front of the bus. Its about a ten minute bus ride from 189th and grand concourse to east tremont.

The appointment at we care took the exact amount of time waiting. I was there for 4 hours. I also had to see the psychiatrist after I saw the intake specialist because they where building a profile for SSI. I was given an appointment to come back the next day to see the SSI intake specialist. When he learned that I had a phone interview for august 11th, he said that he wanted me to see the ssi intake specialist, We care would be my advocate for ssi.

I was given the receipt that I had made it to the appointment which was at 10am. I stayed another hour with the pyschologist after waiting about 45 minutes. The intake specialist was nice enough to print the bus map for me to get back to the We care offices the next day. Then I had to wait to be discharged from the office with a metro card.

The bus to get back to east tremont was across the street from the we care office. Then I have to walk down 3 blocks and a avenue to the shelter. The next day my appointment was at 9am. So I left the shelter at 7:30am, getting up earlier then usual. I took the long walk to the grand concourse high way and then asked someone where the BX2 was. There was one coming and going. A woman was nice enough to know where I was going and she pointed me in the direction of the bus. I waited. The bus runs pretty much on time. By then I had the assurance wireless phone Victoria had given me, which still had the assurance wireless number attached to it. So The only person I was would text was Abdul. Then I got notification that the phone would be cut off if she didn’t recertify her benefit to the phone line. So I went in the computer room to see if I could get a safe link phone, I was eligiable for a SIM card which was sent in the mail. I switched SIM cards because the phone was unlocked, and I had a new number, I texted Abdul to give it to him.

My appointment at We care was 4 hours. It took two hours for me to see the ssi unit. A woman named Agatha greated me and took me to her office where we applied for SSD and SSI. All the important stuff was put on the application, which I got a copy of. All of my appointments need a letter of residency which I had. I had already gotten my social security card in the mail, and I had my birth certificate folded up in my wallet that Vernese had given me. It took about an hour and half to fill out the paper work on the computer. Then she explained that We care was my advocate for ssi, that their psychologist would be adding to the application based on my medical history they had on file, and that I may get an appointment to see the SSI doctors. The application would be going in to SSI the following day.

Ms. Smith took the receipts I had from We care and BEV to HRA for me to be scanned into the system. She didn’t find it necessary for me to go to HRA if she was already going. So that was one less appointment for me.

About a week later I got the questionnaire in the mail from Social security administration. I filled it out in the cafeteria, and with no postage needed, I gave the return envelop to Craig to be mailed out.

About a week later I got a voicemail from SSA stating I had to call an 800 number. I wrote the number down and called. I was told that I had two appointments with their doctors at 8am and 9am and was given the address but was told that I would be receiving a letter in the mail with the appointment time and location of the doctors office.

I got the letter in the mail about a week later, and googled how to get their. My appointment was in November, on the 24th. I had a few weeks to prepare. I had to bring any canes or walkers with me to the appointment. I had told Mike and Abdul about having to see the ssi doctors, Abdul offered to give me cab fair at $40 dollars. I excepted the money graciously. Mike wanted to go with me to the appointment to spend time with me after his shift at the deli. We ended up meeting at 6am in the morning and taking the 4 train to 125th street then transferring to the 6 train to the last stop, Pelham Bay. The whole ride took about 45 minutes. That when Mike told me that his stop on the 6 train was elder ave. He was working as a deli man on 42nd street.

I was consistently gettin mail from Ryder center, for We care to go to their offices. I was deemed disabled but I had to check in with them, and even the SSI unit every other week for 6 months. And every time I go to we care on my way back I ask the bus driver to let me know when we get to east tremont. That I had missed my stop because the bus driver spoke to low. The first time I took the bus for too long I had walked down the block passed the high way, I was by the dollar tree and Wendys. I walked the mile back to the shelter. Ill never get used to coming back from We care. Getting to We care is easy the bus stops right in front of the office building, but I have to watch in the window where Im going. Im always afraid that I will get lost.

Having your EBT card is a big deal. Its a big deal to have welfare in the shelter. Because your in the shelter you have to have a source of income. If I wasn’t in the shelter and living as a single person I would be getting $91 dollars every two weeks plus $194 in snap benefits . The snap benefit doesnt change for one person if your on your on or living in a shelter. $22.50 every two weeks is what you get living in a shelter because HRA figures in that you get all your supplies from the shelter, which is cotex, tooth brushes, little bottles of shampoo, tooth paste and soap. We get towels, and sheets and then theirs the laundry facilities.

They don’t care if yo have a cell phone bill or your in-between jobs or your not gettin your ssi payments. Which is what alot of the woman save money for the three month hiatus, and pay their Metro PCS bill 3 months in advance, which is what I plan to do once my time comes up again.

Welfare isn’t a luxuary. Its a basic need. so what do you do with the $20 every two weeks. You can’t even make small purchases. When I had my children on my case living with my mother $145 wasn’t cutting it either, and I had grown accustomed to being in debt all the time. I didn’t put myself in debt on purpose, I really thought I was living adjustably. I was robbing from the rich to give to the poor, myself. That having two hamsters and guinea pig ate away at the little bit I did have. Buying a pitbull was what broke the camels back. It was psychotic behavior.

Going to HRA is no fun either. Its not a trip to the park. Your expecting to get a government hand out and its for $45 dollars a month. As long as you can eat, the government doesnt care about expenses. Thats the luxury, your cell phone and or tablet, and streaming subscriptions. They aren’t paying that. The money is to be used in case you need it.

Welfare is public assistience. And you have to keep a public assistance case open living in the shelter. So every 6 months you have to recertify without your ssi benefits which is what the shelter trys to maintain. So your eligible for the one shot deal when you move. If your not on top of recertification, you can’t go back to welfare until your sent a letter in the mail stating that your case has been closed. And then you can make a van request to go to 300 canal place to re open your case. The shelter gets paid for opened cases. They get rent from HRA for you to continue staying there. Its one hand washes the other.