What If...?

I realize that I haven't yet given a lot of concrete advice about how to handle homelessness, and for that I am truly sorry. The only defense I can give is that I'm still trying to find my way myself. Being in the IHN program helps, but a lot is still contingent on getting my feet under me and getting moving in a coherent direction. Plus, I haven't been homeless that long; it just seems that way because I won't shut up.

I should, however, try harder to dig out information and disseminate it, so that others will "know how to act", as we say in the South. They say knowledge is power, and I'm very into power-sharing.

Maybe once I talk with more agencies and other homeless around here, I'll know more, and can put information out there in a form that people can more easily take and run with.

For now, though, I'll offer this: use your imagination. What do I mean? I'm reminded of the scene in "The Empire Strikes Back", when Luke finally figures out the crazy old swamp-dweller is actually the Jedi Master Yoda. Yoda tells Luke he's been watching him for a long time, but was dismayed that Luke's head was always in the clouds, not focused on "where he is, what he is doing." Sorry, Master Yoda. I disagree. There's nothing wrong with dreaming, if it helps you prepare. See, I was dreaming of a long career at a company I'd always wanted to work for, and perhaps garnering a little prestige along the way. I should've been dreaming of ways I could finance I house, even with my credit problems (which weren't so bad at the time), or looking for cheaper places to stay, even though there was nothing wrong with the one we were in, or even drawing up set of plans based on a series of worst-case scenarios. I misused my gift of imagination by not using a portion of it to imagine "what would happen if I lost my job? What would happen if we got evicted? what would happen if...?" Ask youself at least one "what if...?" question a day*. And pay attention to the answer. It could be useful one day.

If I'd asked myself more practical "what if...?" questions, I'd be in a lot better shape now.

*No not "what would happen if (insert your favorite celebrity of the opposite sex here)'s car broke down in front of my house while my spouse is away?" That's a flight of fancy, you poser!

I think you are making a mistake buying into the idea that you could have and should have been prepared for the possibility of losing your job or your home. There are so many negative things that 'could' happen that there is no way to prepare yourself for them all. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't consider the risks or the negative possibilities when thinking of a course of action. But don't dwell on the what if's either.

Dream of the life you wish to have, not of the life you fear you may.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a couple of programs to assistance the Homeless and low income families. Be aware however that just because the program is authorized, doesn't mean that it is funded, or is available in all communities.

Housing choice vouchers allow very low-income families to choose and lease or purchase safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing.

Housing Choice Vouchers
Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet

Family self-sufficiency (FSS) is a HUD program that encourages communities to develop local strategies to help assisted families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency.

Family Self-sufficiency

Flexible Voucher Program

Where to apply

Public Housing Authority Contact Information

Very often with these types of programs, the people responsible for intake and administration don't know very much (if anything) about the programs. You may end up teaching them about the programs. Here is the HUD Guidebook for the programs.

Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook

Here are some more links to information, resources and local offices.

Local Homeless Assistance

Local HUD Information

HUD Homeless Resources

Homeless Assistance Programs
Office of Public and Indian Housing

Veteran's Assistance

Homeless Veterans
HUD Veteran Resource Center (HUDVET)
Well Emperor Bob, in many ways I think you are right, we can't be ready for every single negative possiblity, and no one should beat themselves up for it, that said, I think it's wise to make some contingency plans, just so one doesn't panic.
I know having a very basic plan of action helped me very greatly when I lost my job!
The questions everyone should ask themselves really are simple
1. What if my job goes away?
a what are my other skills
b what are my shortcomings? What could I do better?
c how do I get into training to make myself able to secure better work?
d. where and when do I get that training?
2. Everyone should have a contingency plan for what to do if they are unemployed long term. Especially older workers, or workers who have other variables such as age or disablity issues.
This includes what to do about housing, getting money, what to do about pets, children, belongings.
3. Strongly consider relocation if you are in a really crummy job market! There are circumstances where this is not possible, divorce and visitation situations, responsiblity for other relatives can be reasons not to move, but if none of that affects you, realize that most people's friends are only so much help in a pinch, and be willing move to a place with more opportunity.
People shouldn't have to move, but sometimes that is the reality.
A lot of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina never would have left New Orleans and many of them had no job and no prospects, but once they left, they got work. This is not true for all such people but for a great many of them.
Keep on blogging, it's healthy to reach out like that!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?