And I'm thrilled. My circumstances aren't much better than what you'll read about in my article, but I'm elated to get the word out about poverty and homelessness. I hope to banish myths about the poor and/or homeless by sharing my story. Here goes.
"ALL IN A DAY'S WORK"
My JOB is to get out of poverty. The list below illustrates a typical workday for me when I was homeless and didn't have a penny to my name.
1. FIND SHORT TERM AND LONG-TERM SHELTER/HOUSING
Hitchike or walk to businesses with bulletin boards. Post flyers: "Woman needs housing immediately, has references." Find public or university library. Log onto Craigslist and intentional communities website. Read housing ads for Maryland and beyond: perhaps I can barter in exchange for shelter. Post and read classified ads on intentional communities website. Find cafe or restaurant to search for a secondhand newspaper for classified ads. Whole Foods has a free phone for customers; however it is not adequate for making a series of calls.
2. FIND FOOD
Hitchike to welfare office to apply for food stamps. They ask me to come back tomorrow. But I'm hungry today! Hitchike or walk to Towson Town Center. Hit the mall for free coffee. Ironically in the self-serve cafe (for free coffee) the clerk eyes me suspiciously. Still hungry, I go to each food stand in the food court and ask for a sample from the vendors who seem willing. It's not enough food. If I have the strength, I can hitchike over to Whole Foods and get some more free samples.
3. FIND A JOB
I brainstorm about public places that have a free phone. Oh yes, the bank. I walk the two miles to the bank, sit down at the phone with newspaper in hand, and begin making calls. I immediately become very discouraged. Many ads say "must have car," "must have reliable transportation," or "no bus serves this area." I call the first one I circled but get voicemail. I'm only at the free phone for about four minutes when the bank manager comes over and says, "I'm sorry, but this phone is only to be used for business. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Physically, psychologically, and emotionally exhausted, I return to my friend Marnie's. She can put me up for one week. Tomorrow, I go back to work:
1. Find shelter.
2. Find food.
3. Find a job.
4. Maintain glimmer of hope.
5. Don't postpone joy.
Elana Snyder currently resides in public housing in Baltimore City. She is working on her first book, a memoir titled: ONLY THE DESTITUTE WALK.