Ever think about how suddenly your life could be turned on its ear? I think about that a lot. Last Monday, we launched a 6-part series on homeless advocacy in Santa Cruz. Before we actually get into it, I want to share with you why this subject grabbed me so strongly.
Most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck are just two to four weeks from homelessness on any given day, We may think sympathetically about the homeless, but we never really think that could be us.
In 2013, after years of steady employment, I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself out of work. At 61, finding another job in my usual fields was going to be nigh-on impossible. But there was a more immediate a concern – I couldn’t pay next month’s rent. What do I tell my landlady? Where do I go? How do I find help? What will I eat? How will I make my car payment? How can I work if I don’t have an internet connection to search job sites and submit resumes? And how can I go to work if I don’t have a car?
This series will address all those questions, and where to find the answers and remedies.
My story has a happy ending. If I’d known then that it would be nearly two years before I would find work, and that I would suffer a stroke during that time, I would have lost all hope. But when I called my landlady – who actually owns my mobile home and is thankfully NOT some corporate management company! – she completely got it. She quickly informed me that she did not want to lose me as a tenant. She worked it out so that I paid whatever I could – and many months that was nothing – and we would just keep track of her actual costs and I would pay it down later.
The end of 2014 saw me starting the job I have now. With any luck, I will be out of debt to my landlady before the end of 2019. But I’ve never been homeless or hungry, and for that I’m more thankful than I can ever express. And if I can do something – even if it’s just shining a light on the solutions being offered – to help others without my blessings get out of that position, I’m grateful to be able to do it.