April 28, 2011

Concerns of a Senior Citizen

This post is the first by Donna Hendricks, a Rep Payee client who we’ve raved about before. She is passionate about the issues of affordable housing and mental health, because funding for those programs impacts her personally, so she's been a regular participant in the budget discussions each Friday from 11:30 - 1:00 at our Northwest Center. Last week she sat down to share her opinion on the DC budget cuts.

What happened to the homeless? What happened to low- and middle-income people? They got lost in a crowd. What happens to us, the money we need to live, to eat, just to survive, and depend on?

I’m a 61 year old woman who has been homeless and now has a roof over my head. But with the budget cuts, I live in fear of my rent being cut, fear of being back on the streets. Not only do I have mental health issues, I have physical health issues too. I have no use of my knees any more, and other problems. I’m scared of what would happen if I became homeless again.

I don’t need the pressure. We don’t need the pressure.

We have an overpopulation of the homeless already, so what’s going to happen when they close all the shelters for singles, when they end programs like IDA (Interim Disability Assistance) and stop building affordable housing?

If these cuts happen, more people will be homeless, which will drive them to mental illness, drinking, drugs, and other things they’ll do to survive and belong. When you’re homeless, it can feel like nobody cares. It’s lonely. You have no place to take a bath, no roof over your head, no necessities. It’s a hopeless situation.

Our Councilmembers need to hear from people who’ve experienced these things. It’s very important to voice our opinions. Otherwise they won’t know what it’s like. And if they don’t know what’s going on, what can they do about it? They’ll ignore the situation. They’ll keep their priorities in the wrong place. Streetcars and convention centers instead of homeless shelters and affordable housing. They think so much of the well-to-do that the low- and middle-income get forgotten. People who are really wealthy should pay their fair share, which isn’t happening right now.

So please, do all that you can to not make me homeless again.

Editor’s Note: You can join Donna and other clients and staff at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, May 3rd at the John A. Wilson Building, as we rally together with the Continuum of Housing Campaign at CNHED and Latino Economic Development Corporation. Help us tell the City Council that we need funding for the housing to keep our neighborhoods healthy and whole.

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