The threat of homelessness is so terrifying, it’s what capitalists think is necessary to keep the world running. They aren’t wrong about its quality as a motivator – just as nobody wants to undergo torture, nobody wants to be homeless. Rather, it is incorrect to assume that anything can be done to fight the prospect of becoming homeless in such a rigged system. The only thing standing between you and becoming homeless is an emergency or two, unless you’re in the 0.1% and depending on what an emergency is to you. For me, an emergency is running out of food stamps halfway through the month, so I need to either spend what I can’t afford to or ask for money to cover the rest. Emergencies happen more frequently when you’re poor.
Moving while poor is an ordeal. The people with the privilege (and it is nothing more than a privilege) to own resources like housing and land regard us with suspicion. We must prove that we are willing to let our livelihoods flow up while lies about recovery trickle down. Almost every penny that passes through my hands is saved for the landlord, who doesn’t have to work. Landlords literally live off of other people’s hard-earned money, and yet capitalists refuse to look at them as “leeches” who “don’t contribute to the economy.” You see, the trick is that if you have money to buy your way in, nobody cares whether you’re working or not. If you don’t have money, what are you doing with your time? Get back to work!
Disability adds another layer – if you can’t work and you don’t have money, what are you good for to this society? The answer is nothing at all. Workplace problems are exacerbated outside the workplace, which is what the rest of us are trying to communicate to the so-called struggling middle class. If you think it’s hard to focus at work, imagine trying to find a job in a pandemic, or a place to live. Or the resources to take care of a sick loved one. My only job now is writing, which I get paid for through Patreon. It’s not a normal job and it’s not a regular paycheck (though it does come consistently once a month).
I keep saying that disability advocacy is the way forward, because so many of us need to be working shorter hours to keep up with technological advancements and resource management. If I could take a job that only expected time from me when I’m available and could work around my need to rest when I’m dealing with my own pain or my need to spend time taking care of my partner, I’d take it in a moment. Many, many people are in the same position and would do the same. The numbers are impossible to gather because chronic illness and disability are so vastly underdiagnosed. But when I say that I want the resources and work reorganized, I mean that I want to contribute as much as my life allows me to. Our society as it is right now says that if you can’t dedicate your life to your job, you don’t deserve to have a life at all. Either way, life is lost for those whose labor flows up into the pockets of the rich.
I say all this because I am in the midst of searching for a place to live, and it has come to my attention that many people do not know what this is like when you’re poor in the United States. Moving may be stressful for pretty much everyone, but it’s a nightmare when you don’t have stability. Every action carries the increasing threat of winding up homeless.
It’s the 19th of October, and I still do not have an apartment to move into in 12 days. The most difficult thing is trying to prove that you’ll pay your rent. Landlords can afford to be picky, all the more so with millions of evictions and people facing homelessness in this pandemic. We are not to be trusted – where do we get our income, and, therefore, their future source of money?
Housing should be free. Nobody should be profiting off the livelihood of human beings, the very need to take shelter from the elements. I say this, and yet I cannot escape the rent machine. I have no “real” job, no credit score, nothing to secure me even a thousand square feet of space to call home.
You have to make enough money to cover rent two, three, or four times over. This is hilarity for most of us. If the landlord is not satisfied with what we make, they can reject our application, which is another lost expense. If what we make is not enough, it is possible to get someone with wealth and resources to co-sign the lease. This would require that a person with money would be willing to risk it so we can get into stable housing, which is a lot to ask.
I haven’t been putting this off or waiting until the last minute. This is just how housing is when you’re in the market for a 2-bedroom apartment at the lowest available rates. In fact, this is one of the least stressful moving experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Thank you all so much for making that possible with your generosity.
This process has been stressful, and there is still so much left that needs to happen. This is yet another experience that has radicalized me, showing me that things don’t have to be this broken. There are better ways. We will need them very soon, as more and more people face homelessness and unstable housing.
This is a mere snapshot of what the process is like for those of us who are bargaining with few funds for a place to live.