|window looking outside...7/5/13|
A new story has begun in my life...one of beauty...one of sorrow. In the week ahead, I will begin at the beginning, but for now, I am starting here, where the biggest travesty is occurring.
Michael, my boyfriend, has hit rock bottom. In the last 6 months or so, things evolved which were completely out of his control. His own brother attempted to kill him while high on crack; he lost his unemployment weeks ago; was evicted from the place he was living because he couldn't pay his rent; had to surrender his car because he was unable to pay for it; and now...he's had to turn to welfare for help.
(As a side note, he had been living in New Orleans up until 6 months ago, returning 'home' to New York.)
I was with him when he applied for emergency help at the Department of Social Services...and watched as it tore him to pieces to have to be this low in his life, and saw how the whole process of applying and being interviewed shredded his dignity. The questions asked, the 'rules' one must follow while receiving welfare dehumanize you...inch by inch, until you walk out of that place, feeling little better than the dirt under your feet.
I know. I have been that route before in my own life. But in the years since, those rules and questions asked have become even more grueling...and it is perverted in many ways.
Mike was told, point blank, that no one can give him ANYTHING, because it is considered 'income'. No tobacco, no food, no time on his cell phone...I mean, really? Here is a man that is ex-Navy, has worked his whole life, has no criminal record, and has been looking for a job, and they expect him to continue looking when he would have no means to contact or be contacted if a job was found (after his cell phone minutes expire)?
What is sickening, is sitting there watching other people apply for welfare or recertifying, with cell phones...there was no one there that didn't have one! Some were even fancier than my own...yet they tell Mike, threaten him with jail IF someone puts time on his cell and he doesn't 'report' it????
Then, because he was homeless, they put Mike in a boarding house not a block from the county building. What a horrible place it is! The outside is ramshackle, and the inside is disgusting. Mike's room there, isn't much bigger than a jail cell, the tiles on the floor are cracked; efforts made to patch holes in the walls are clearly visible; the paint around the window and frame are cracked and chipped (how much lead leaks from there, we wonder); the bed frame is, by looks, something that might have been a hospital bed (even the paint on it is dirty and chipped)...40 years ago and the supposed 'new' mattress is boney, you can see the definition of the springs through the padding.
How is this right?
This system was designed for such instances, yet every person that goes there for help...for the first time...gets treated like crap.
I will let you judge for yourself...here are more photos of Mike's 'room':
|door and wall with desk/single lamp to light the room|
|small dresser with fridge|
|bed and mattress|
|some type of cupboard I didn't dare open|
|wall above desk|
|wall across from fridge|
|floor and wall along the floor|
Is THIS how anyone should have to live?
It is just so wrong. This is AMERICA!
Thanks for reading,