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Homeless Person Unable to Save for Permanent Housing

by Jackie
(Dayton, Ohio)

Visitor Question: I am a homeless recovering addict that is bettering my life, but do not even know where to begin in my search for housing. I am currently staying at a hotel where I have to pay $250/week to live there. This is the majority of my check and after everything else is paid for, I have next to nothing to save to put towards an apartment/house. I feel as though I am stuck. Either I lose my play to sleep or I lose my future. If there is any help for me, please send any links, business names and numbers, program info etc... Please and thank you.

Jackie A

Editors Reply: Jackie, thank you for writing. Your story should be required reading for any person who cannot understand why people would slide back into homelessness a second or third time.

First, please take good care of yourself and work hard on recovery. That will be so important to being able to keep permanent housing.

Second, we looked for resources for you in Dayton. (For all who are reading this, we have some general suggestions at the end of this article too.) It seems that the primary agency working with homeless issues in Dayton is PATH. Call them at 937-263-4469 extension 410 between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and ask your question there. When they hear about your expensive hotel stay, they will understand that you surely need their help right now. If they cannot help, they are likely to know who can help, so don't let them off the phone until you understand that.

It seems that PATH also has a Street Card they can provide you, which lists many resource organizations that might be helpful for various aspects of your situation. To request the Card, if you don't have it already, call 937-559-2263.

If you don't get any useful help from PATH, call the United Way. Just dial 211 (many other cities use this number too). If that doesn't work for you for some reason, the full phone number is 937-225-3000.

For others of you who are not in Dayton, we would just encourage you to reach out for help right now, today. If you are like Jackie and are paying an amount for temporary housing that you cannot afford, this will be extremely likely to lead to homelessness again. Don't ignore it and hope it gets better.

Here are some general tips for finding inexpensive housing for those coming out of homelessness.

1. You may have to broaden your geographic search. If you need to be near public transportation, make sure you become very familiar with all parts of the city that are well served. Regardless of transportation situations though, our experience in working with homeless people is that sometimes they have always lived in a particular neighborhood and don't even consider other locations that might be less expensive and equally convenient for other aspects of their lives. Change is hard, but sometimes going to a different part of the city, to a suburb, or over the river can bring less expensive and very pleasant housing options.

2. Ask others that you meet for ideas. In your case, ask people in any recovery group you might be attending. If you are using public transportation regularly, ask other riders for suggestions. If you are participating in a congregation, ask everyone sitting around you for ideas. If you are employed, ask others where they live.

Again based on our experience with homeless people, sometimes they are embarrassed to ask other people because they don't want to advertise their homeless status. But you don't have to say you are homeless; just say you want to move and are looking for affordable housing.

3. A common situation is that homeless people may lack money for a security deposit on an apartment, they may not be able to pass the credit check now required for most apartments. Again we are going to ask you to consider doing something that requires a lot of courage.

If you have friends or relatives who could lend you some money, you have to swallow your pride and ask them to do so. Also some landlords are willing to accept a guarantee from another person to pay the rent if you fail to do so, sort of like having a co-signer for a loan.

We know these solutions would be very tough, but as you realize, having a more permanent housing solution is just critical in being able to make progress in life.

Lastly, even though we are using the term permanent housing, realize that you may have to take this in stages. You may have to find an apartment that is less than what you want, just to attempt to get established and be able to save more money for a deposit on a better apartment or even a down payment on a home.

Readers, if you know a person like Jackie who is homeless and spending what is an outrageous amount to stay at a hotel, try to find a way to give that person some help in finding and securing permanent housing.



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Fair Housing for All
by: patricia moon

Hi Jackie; I have PTSD and understand the struggles in this world for someone struggling to start over and not fall back when those struggles seem impossible to win over. Ask your zoning department if they have a Fair Housing Officer, trained to help those with disabilities to find safe, yet affordable housing. The question itself, will help you get the attention of those employees in your municipal government office qualified to help you, and at the same time they will want to follow federal mandates for equal housing for ALL persons.
This site, "Useful Communities" has a place on my heart, as these knowledgeable people helped me with my predicament years ago. To show my gratitude, I remain on their mailing list so that I will be given the opportunity to help others.
Thank you, all.

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