21 March 2007

Being Homeless: 1 year and counting

Well, I've been homeless for over one year now (a year ago today, I was in the psychiatric ward at Phelps Memorial Hospital for my depression). However, because I can (usually) find a place to sleep at night, Westchester County doesn't consider me to be homeless. This is in direct contravention to the definition of homelessness, as promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which defines homelessness as "an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence...."

Currently, I don't have a fixed, regular nighttime residence. I've been couch-hopping among friends, mostly spending the weekdays down-county and the weekends up-county. Up-county, I have more of the accoutrements that I grew up with, or at least I have access to them (computer, Internet, television, etc.) Down-county, the people I know are dirt poor, so I pretty much have been reading a lot (that's why I've been posting a lot lately about books I've been reading).

There was one friend, in particular, where I considered myself to be "based," as I spent more of my time there than any other place, and I felt safe leaving most of my possessions behind me at his apartment. Unfortunately for the both of us, his apartment (it was the third floor of a three-family house) burned down. He lost most of his possessions, and well as his three cats (this photo is what they looked like, but is not of his actual pets). I don't know if any of my possessions survived the blaze. Thankfully, there was no loss of, or injury to, human life.

My friend is devastated over the loss of his pets, and is now, himself, homeless (and couch-hopping), which leaves me in more of a pickle than I was in before this devastation took place. So my unstable life has become even more unstable. My depression is getting worse. I need to get back into treatment.

I'm beginning to feel as though I'm taking my bad luck with me and inflicting it upon those who are left in my life that I care about. :'-(

I called my worker at Cluster Community Services at the beginning of the week, to enquire about the status of my housing (I had met with her and a director of the housing where I was supposed to go into, and they said it was only a matter of getting the paperwork through the county's Department of Community Mental Health, which sponsors the housing), and was advised that she is on vacation this week. I spoke to her supervisor, who told me that things are moving along and that they're moving people into housing, so it shouldn't be long for me. I thought I was one of the people that they were going to be moving in, but I guess not, since he would have known about it if that were the case, no?

So the hope that I'd been holding onto over the past few weeks is slowly, but surely, fleeting away into the sea of despair.