A story without a happy ending. Why?
Our Really Affordable Housing committee assessed Barry (53 years old) for housing. We all agreed he was the perfect person for our housing program whereby we pay first month rent and other start-up costs and he pays after that.
He had worked his whole life, and it wasn’t any fault of his that the jobs were low paying, making it impossible for him to save money for a rainy day. And that rainy day came. After having his own housing for 16 years, in 2018, he was brutally assaulted and was in and out of hospital for a year. Lucky for him, friends and family helped him until he could get back on his feet but they could only do so much.
When we met him, he had started working again as a dishwasher at $13 an hour. And with that low wage and hours that fluctuated because of Covid, he could only afford a hotel for a couple of nights a week. He reached out to some church ministries for help and that is how he came to our attention.
When we assessed him for housing, he was earning about $1100 a month. We knew he could afford a $500 - $600 rooming house – if there were one to be had. There was Padsplit, but the rooms ranged in the $700 price range, and he didn’t qualify because he had to have twice the rent in income. It would also leave him with only $400 a month to live on – for a phone, $100 in Marta costs to get to work, food and clothing. He might have been able to get food stamps, but it’s not as easy as one might think with his income and not having a permanent home.
We began the search to find him a rooming house, but there are only a few run by reputable organizations, and none returned our calls. But we just weren’t prepared to see Barry fall between the cracks.
Finally, we told Barry, we would help him with a less expensive hotel we knew about ($830 for four weeks that we paid for) but that he had to be prepared, afterwards, to pay $630 a month, and we would help with the other $200 until we could find him a room. It was more than he could afford and more than we could afford if we had to do it for many others, but our Board realized that incomes are so low and rooms are so high it’s not enough for us just to help with start-up costs.
So, Barry was, at least, safely housed until we could find him a boarding house. The question is – will we be able to do so?
Please give to our campaign to buy houses for three people to share at 35% of their income. We have $170,000 raised so far. For more information go to our website at ahomeforeveryoneindekalb.org