The Urgency-Sustainability Problem of Poverty

I spend a lot of my time explaining myself to people who don’t know what it’s like to be truly poor. In many ways, I myself do not know what it is like to experience extreme poverty. What I know is that it is terrifying and traumatizing to be on the edge of not having a safe place to sleep and access to nourishment and care.

My last few posts and announcements may come as a shock to many of you, and I want to clarify my thoughts and intentions as much as possible. There are several factors at play here: my partner’s steadily deteriorating health, my own chronic nerve pain, the struggle to keep a roof over our heads with my writing-from-home income, the ongoing push for disability benefits, and the rising cost of living alongside a failing economy.

So to break down the decision-making process, I want to talk first about where we’re at and where we need to be, and how it is possible to use our accessible housing fundraiser to launch us into sustainable housing. Before I can get into that, though, I need for middle-class and upper-class readers to understand that sustainable decision-making is a privilege. I can only project with what I have, and that doesn’t mean I can crunch numbers several months or even a year out. I must take my expenses month by month.

Poverty creates a sense of urgency like nothing else. Every meal, every night of sleep, every place you can think to safely secure your belongings, becomes a fight the less you have access to wealth. I feel extremely lucky to say that for the past two years, my partner and I have consistently been able to live in the same place without missing rent once. All of that is due to your kindness.

Right now I make $515 per month from 57 Patreon patrons. My partner hasn’t been able to work in over a year, and is bedridden and can no longer use the stairs. I left my front-lines grocery store deli job in early March to protect my partner, and also because the work was too strenuous for my body. Since then I’ve been relying on the kindness of friends, allies, and supporters. Right now, rent is $700, utilities vary between $100 and $150, sharing one phone is $40, I don’t have a car so Uber rides are another $150 or so, and emergency expenses bring us up to about $1000-$1,200 in expenses per month. This is about twice what I make, which is why I’ve needed to also raise funds to make ends meet over the past several months.

Winter is coming, and I think I can do better on both expenses and accessibility. We’ve spent time looking for a roommate we can trust who has a steady income. They can pay for half of rent on a 2-bedroom apartment. I’ve been looking, and we can beat the cost of what we’re paying now. We also desperately need a place without stairs. It would mean so much more access for my partner, who can’t access the kitchen these days.

My diagnosis did not take me by surprise. I have been in pain for a very long time. It merely confirms how difficult it has been for me to do work that people twice my age don’t seem bothered doing. I can still write, and I am determined to keep doing so. I want to stop talking about myself and my own financial situation and get back to the economy at large, but each day is filled with trying to make the next month’s worth of expenses happen. Just like it is for people who have “real jobs.”

Here’s how the expenses would break down if we do indeed move in by the beginning of October: application expenses will be about $150-$200. Rent will be split, so I will be paying $500 and so will my roommate. The deposit can be anywhere from $600 to $1,200 as well. Renting a U-Haul truck for moving us within town will cost about $100. We need to also put down the first two months’ worth of rent, which is $2,000 up front. We’ll also need to attain basic household necessities and a food staple base. Altogether, we think $4,000 is a realistic, sustainable amount to ask for in making the move happen.

I am making the most sustainable, least desperate, most financially wise choice available. Poverty creates urgency, and I wish I could present a more stable plan, but I hope this post clarifies that I’ve thought this through and my expectations are realistic.

If you’re interested in helping me get by monthly, most of my Patreon patrons give $5 a month. More details here.

If you’d like to help us move, the accessible housing fundraiser is here.

Thank you all so much for everything, and for encouraging me to ask.