December 6, 2010

We Need City Council to Take Action, Make the Better Choice

Mayor Fenty has proposed another round of cuts as part of this year’s city budget. Utility assistance, child care, TANF, job training, disability assistance, affordable housing, legal services, and more are on the chopping block. I’ve been through my share of hard times: an abusive relationship, losing my home, getting harassed by landlords, and health issues. I want to speak out and share my story to help prevent other people from having to go through what I did.

I've already blogged about being on the TANF program to provide for my daughter during the seven years that I was unable to work and waiting to get approved for Social Security Income. I know that they don’t give you the skills you need to get a job that pays the bills, and now they're taking away more of what people need to survive.

It’s hard to make ends meet on a fixed income, even though I’m careful with my budget. My daughter hasn't had a new coat for three years, and right now we’re wearing our coats in the house because I can't turn the heat on. I don't want to run the bills up and then have my utilities cut off. That's grounds to lose my housing voucher, and I can’t take that chance. My utility assistance appointment isn’t until April, so I know I’m not the only one who’s cold. Now they’re making more cuts to utility assistance!

It’s clear that they give you the help that they want to give you, not what you need to pick yourself up. It’s not like I’ve been asking for a million dollars, or for people to move mountains or part seas. I just want a stable home for me and my daughter. I want somebody to step up and help me do better for myself, so I can do better for her. I don't want her to live in a constant state of trial and tribulation. If I had the tools that I needed, I would be able to make it.

But they just keep taking, until they take away your hope. When you take away someone's hope, you take away their way of taking care of themselves, to push forward and survive. Councilmembers don’t see it, because it doesn’t affect them. We need action, and all we’re getting is talk. Talk doesn’t help you when you’re hurting.

I have a saying, though - it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. If I had sat silent through all of this, I wouldn’t be here now. My daughter wouldn’t be here now. You have to know your rights and fight for them. That’s why I’ll be speaking at the People’s Hearing on Tuesday, December 7 at 9:00 am in front of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Federal Triangle, Metro Center, 30 buses). I want others in this situation to have hope that they can make it, but I also want city leaders to learn from our experiences and make the better choice.

I say to Mayor-Elect Vince Gray - give to me what I need to help myself. Don’t keep stripping things away until you break me. Let him know what you think he should do now.

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