The Homeless Scribe

Contemplations on an Unexpected Life
SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 4:46PM

Contemplation on Homelessness

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Today is September 1, 2011, and in all likelihood, I will be homeless within 30 days.  Unfortunately, we live in an era when this statement has become commonplace, so the most I expect from others is passing interest in my circumstances.  If you find yourself sharing in my experience, you may be fortunate to have friends and/or family to turn to for comfort.  I do have friends and family, but for many strange and complicated reasons that I will endeavor to make obvious, they can not serve as my port in this current storm.

You see, my life seems to exist between a rock and a hard place.  I don’t have huge, overwhelming problems.  I have dozens of little problems that collude together to create situations with no clear, workable solutions.  But, worst of all, I have no safety net, no support system, no mentor, no hero, no unconditional, absolute source of love and devotion in my life.  Again, not by choice, but by circumstance.

Let’s be clear about one thing up front, I do not feel sorry for myself and I don’t expect anyone else to feel sorry for me.  I wouldn’t know what to do with sympathy anyway.  Chances are, I’d reject it because I’m stubbornly independent and very much accustomed to doing things on my own.  I was both born that way and programmed that way from a very young age.  Ironically, this streak of independence has saved me and destroyed me all at once.

So, what do I expect?  Difficult to say these days.  Any reasonable expectation is likely to be met with a hearty guffaw.  So, in a word, I guess I expect nothing.  Life has programmed me to expect nothing in order not to be disappointed.  Because, when one expects fairness, justice, compensation, equality, one is inevitably let down.

It’s learning to expect nothing that has led me to my current crossroads.  I live in a small one bedroom apartment that is an absolute disaster.  Since I moved in, I’ve dealt with insect infestations, broken appliances, broken security systems, faulty fire alarms, water leaks, construction, noise, dust, smoke, and the list goes on.  Yet, each month, I’m expected to fork over $1,440 to live in a place that is literally making me sick.

The only remedy I have is to spend money I do not have to move to another apartment, because, no one is willing to hold the landlord accountable.  Or, maybe someone is willing to hold the landlord accountable, but I just can’t figure out who it is.  And, after three months of trying to find some authority, agency, department or other entity whose concern extends to the enforceability of my rental contract, I’m simply giving up.

The Code Enforcement Office won’t do anything, because “they are fixing the problem.”  Never mind that “the problem” has been recurring for the last five years, the landlord is all over it now.  The Department of Landlord/Tenant Affairs will not handle issues at the address where my residence is located, even though it is located within the same city.  (So, it appears I managed to find a pocket of lawlessness in a major metropolitan area equivalent to the wild, wild west.)  Legal Aid offices in the area will only handle complaints of discrimination, not breach of contract.  Consumer Affairs and the District Attorney’s office will not handle landlord issues.  Private attorneys who specialize in landlord tenant disputes will not handle a case in this jurisdiction.  Even the Consumer Advocates for the news media won’t touch landlord/tenant cases.

And, what did I expect?  Clearly, it was foolish of me to expect the landlord to provide the amenities described in the lease agreement.  Yet, for some reason, the landlord expects to be paid in full, on time, every month, even after failing to fulfill the terms of our contract.  When I deducted money in protest of the numerous deficiencies (some of which had been on-going for more than eight months), I was threatened with eviction within 2 weeks.  The so-called “law” had abandoned me when I needed it most.

So, the next option is, move.  Last time I checked, that cost money (I should know, I paid a lot of it to move into this rat-trap!)  With less than $40 in my bank account, moving to another apartment is just not an option. 

First, rents are sky-rocketing.  My $1,440 apartment now costs $1,795 -- an increase of almost 25%.  Surprisingly though, my paycheck has not increased at all.  In fact, my “recession job” pays less than half of my previous salary.  But, I’m thankful to have any job at all because people I know have been looking for work for years and are being laid off constantly.

Second, people are being laid off constantly – right in my own company.  Six people got the axe last week.  I’m sitting here writing a blog, so you know I don’t have anything to do.  With business this slow…  I don’t even want to say it.

There are many more reasons, the “strange and complicated” kind I alluded to earlier, that I’ll save for future blogs.  For now, I’ll just countdown to homelessness each day with another contemplation on an unexpected life. 

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open+call, economy

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