The day started out quiet but the sunshine quickly warmed me and my dog, Faith, up.
My cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but for some reason I answered it. “Hello.”
All I remember was “this is so and so from Hadley Park.” Hadley Park is an Metropolitan and Development Housing Agency in Nashville – I had filled out an application seven months ago for affordable housing.
I couldn’t speak … I couldn’t breathe or even think. This is the call.
My heart started beating again and then my mouth engaged. I asked her to hold on a minute because I wanted to write everything down so I wouldn’t forget anything. After compiling the list of what I’d need for the initial interview that Monday, we hung up. I was just in shock.
After filling out those applications for affordable housing seven months ago, I heard nothing. No phone call, no email, and eventually I forgot about them. I figured when and if disability came in, it would be easier to get into one of the older communities. The older communities had less crime within the confines of the community.
My mind was spinning with so many “what ifs”, tears of joy flowing at the thought of maybe this time it’s my turn. I focused on what I needed to collect for the interview. They needed everything from my birth certificate to a copy of my social security card, and I was fortunate enough to find every document. Many homeless people have problems securing documents. If they are lost or stolen, replacing documents comes with many hurdles.
I was lucky to have all of mine tucked away in a clear plastic file case. All except documents I need to pick up from Neighborhood Health regarding my disability. A dear friend, Karen, stepped in offering me a ride there and back.
This was really going to happen! I was going to start the process of getting into housing!
All weekend, I thought about a home without wheels. Monday finally came and I went to my interview and started the paper work. The neighborhood wasn’t a priority, but this one was right next to a park that Faith would love! And there was a library on the other side, which definitely caught my attention. I love books and the library has always been a favorite place for me.
I needed to wait a few days for final approval, but when the call came in Thursday, I was overjoyed to learn I’d been approved!
I’d been accepted into government housing, a place that I could afford no matter what I made. Government housing works this way: your rent including utilities is 30% of your income. As a disabled person who wants to work but doesn’t always have a steady income, I felt so fortunate. What a gift to finally have a home … a real home for me and Faith! I didn’t have to worry about coming up with a security deposit I couldn’t afford. No worry about rent that I wouldn’t be able to make each month because it would be dependent upon my income.
That weekend, I put out a plea for furniture and funds to purchase what I needed. As I started packing the anxiety started. Anxiety? Why did I have anxiety when my dream of a home had finally come true? Was it all true?
On Monday, some friends helped me move my boxes into my new studio apartment – mine! I opened the door to my home and it was amazing!! There was a kitchen I could cook in complete with a stove, microwave, dishwasher, pantry and a full-size refrigerator. No more shopping four days at a time. There was also a bathroom with a shower, tub, sink and toilet – just for me!
Unfortunately, the donated furniture did not come in, and it stressed me out a bit … but I had a pillow to lay my head upon and Faith by my side. That was all that mattered. The next day a mattress, chair and ottoman from friends were delivered.
We’re adjusting to our new slowly. Nightmares of being woken up by the police and strangers have kept me awake at night. There’s been some anxiety, but it’s slowly going away.
It’s still strange to me to walk into my apartment and flipping a switch is all I have to do turn on the light. No more lanterns to fiddle with. No more batteries to find a way to buy. I have real lights.
I also don’t have to wait hours for my shell of a trailer to warm up. The heater in my home stays on even when I’m gone.
I have to thank those who made this possible – I couldn’t have done this without some really awesome friends. A new chapter of my life is beginning, a blank piece of paper for me to fill up with a new life, new challenges and new experiences.
Some say public housing is terrible and riddled with crime. I say it’s what you make of it. I plan to make mine a home, and a home it will be.
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