One Day From Homeless, Our Story

 

ONE DAY FROM HOMELESS, HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
People are in shock when I tell them that my husband and I had been one day from homeless. They respond, NO WAY! They can’t believe it. Friends knew us as middle class. We still look middle class. We behave middle class. There is not really anything that gives us away. Since everything fails to confirm our financial situation and living circumstances, I have no choice but to tell them our story, One Day From Homeless.

one day from homeless
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.

OUR STORY
When my husband and I became a couple in 1994, everything was fine. We had a house at the beach. We each had a car. Both of us had college degrees. I had a small business. He had a job and was completing a Counseling Certificate.

We both came from good homes. I was from Long Beach, NY. He was from Manhasset, Long Island’s North Shore. We had good upbringings and were community members in good standing. There was nothing to foretell what was to come.

A MIDDLE CLASS LIFE
We lived a comfortable middle class life. Things all seemed headed in a great direction. The house we owned skyrocketed in value. We sold it at the top of the market right before housing decided to turn south and crash.

My husband was able to go back to school full time due to an injury from his job and a layoff. He studied graphic design and got a terrific job in NYC in 2000. I had my decorative painting business. It was going well. For a while, things were fine.

FINE TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE
But then the stock market showed signs of instability. My planner said it was just a bear market that would correct itself. My gut disagreed. But she was the professional, so I held on. At the same time, there were changes going on at my husband’s job. He had to commute one and a half hours each way to New Jersey during reconstruction of their Manhattan headquarters.

When they returned to NYC, he got a new boss. From day one, they were like ‘oil and water’. The working relationship went from bad to worse. As if it had been orchestrated by some quirk of fate, everything felt like an avalanche gathering downhill speed simultaneously.

One Day From Homeless
Dow Jones Historical 100 Year Chart Showing 2008 Depression

THEN CAME 2008
My husband had just turned 62. So he could collect social security. But he preferred to keep working and wait until age 67. But he got laid off. It was bound to happen. Better than the homicide or heart attack I feared would happen from working with his boss.

My mutual funds that were supplying a small income for me were competing in a similar down hill race. And it all crashed at once. That was 2008. Job gone. Income gone. If it had not been for President Obama’s extension of unemployment insurance from 26 to 99 weeks and his decrease in COBRA insurance from $1500/month to $500/month, our demise would have come much sooner.

THE HANGOVER OF 2009
As we continued to live on dwindling savings and my husband’s pension, I felt more and more despair. I had never felt this way before. I started carrying my toothbrush and dental floss with me everywhere I went. Something didn’t feel right. At first, I started having terrible pains in the area of my gall bladder. In attempting to heal that without surgery, I started to have a severe emotional swing, a downward crash actually.

As much as I fought it, I could not stop falling. I fell into a deep, dark hole where there was nothing. There was no hope; no future and time almost came to a standstill.

I was having a nervous breakdown. With five visits to the emergency room, I ended up in the psychiatric unit of the local hospital from two of the ER visits. That is where I spent much of my summer, in and out of it the unit. Then I was in the aftercare program. I don’t know which aspect of that ordeal was the worst part. I think all of it was. The only saving grace was that I was in air conditioning all summer.

VEGETABLE OR HUMAN
My husband was terrified that the prescribed medicine overload would leave me a vegetable for life. But he stuck by me visiting me in the hospital every day, twice each day. He didn’t even tell me about the day he got hit by a car when he was riding his bike. He didn’t want to upset me. He told me about it years later. Thank God, he was OK.

Somehow, I finally got on the right medicine, from seven at one point down to a reasonable, workable two. I found a wonderful therapist and started to see a pinhole of daylight out of that black hole.

SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR MONEY
But on thing did not stop. That was the drip, drip, drip of our money going down the drain, as we had to support a Middle Class life of expenses on a Poor Middle Class income. But we did not identify what it was at the time.

My husband continued to seek work to put us back in balance. But in terror, I counted the months our funds would last. By then, we were in ‘the system’, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. But what were we going to do about our housing situation?

We had a two-bedroom apartment and no idea what we were going to do or where we were going to go. We thought the answer was to get evicted since that would bide us time or so we thought.

one day from homeless
The Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck from ravepad.com

ALMOST HOMELESS
Thank God, we did not go that route. It would have been a mark against us for future housing applications. Our landlord was wonderful. He patiently worked with us, accepting what we had left to give him. First it was our deposit as a month’s rent and then one of my husband’s best paintings as the final month’s rent.

By then we were down to another level in ‘the system’, the search for emergency housing. Miraculously, with the help of a friend, we found a senior housing opening. It usually takes years to get in. First you apply to a waiting list to wait on another list to apply for an apartment.

LIFE IN A STUDIO APARTMENT
But the housing that we found in record time, two weeks, was a studio apartment. That was the only drawback. The building was lovely, centrally located and most importantly, it would provide a roof over our heads in a very nice building. For a number of weeks before we found the studio apartment, we thought we could end up homeless.

Then there was a paperwork screw up with the county’s bureaucracy at the very last minute. We had gone there for our ‘one shot’, the money for our apartment deposit. We waited over 3 hours for it. But at the very last minute, it was denied to us. We had $8. too much money to our names. We were supposed to be delivering the deposit for the new apartment the next day. I totally panicked. That was the closest we have come to becoming homeless. It is something I pray that we never experience again.

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN
At the last minute, the money we needed for our deposit was made available by a charitable organization when they heard our story. After the three unnerving hours we had spent in the county’s facility, we drove another hour to the place that saved us with their donation. But I have to admit that the six months starting with the countdown of funds to almost homeless was probably the scariest time in my life. I felt so powerless.

MOVING FORWARD
It is hard to believe that we have been living in our building for about four years. We were even able to move into a one-bedroom apartment about a year and a half ago. It feels like a palace after two and a half years in a studio. We see the trees out our window and feel like we live in the sky.

My husband was able to go for advanced training in the counseling field. He has been interning doing that. I have been learning how to adjust to being Poor Middle Class, not as a punishment but as a badge of courage.

A GIFT
We believe that we have been given the experiences of the last 8 years to learn how to survive from a place of surrender, gratitude and humility. It has been and is still quite a journey. What we have learned and continue to learn is a gift.

It is a gift that has been given to us to pass on to others. Let us continue to experience this new life as a gift. Let us also continue to pass on joyfully, what we have learned and continue to learn. Let our experience help others who are now where we once were, almost homeless and part of The Former Middle Class.

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Senior Suburban Survivalism

 

Introduction

Senior suburban survivalism has become our new way of life. The purpose of this blog post is to explain what this new way of life or lifestyle is. I also detail our need for it. In addition, I explore this lifestyle so that the knowledge of survival tools is made available to others members of The Poor Middle Class. I want to inspire hope in others who are in the same or similar financial situation to us. Learn much more about The Poor Middle Class on earlier posts of my blog and in the chapters of The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook.

senior suburban survivalism
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook available at Amazon.com

Surviving In A Middle Class Suburban World As Part of The Poor Middle Class

Because we are part of The Poor Middle Class, life has become increasingly challenging for us. As seniors aka boomers and part of The Poor Middle Class, we have had to find new lifestyle tools to survive in suburbia. We strive for a good life in spite of our limited financial resources. We are proud because we are rich in resourcefulness and hope.

Both senior suburban survivalism and homestead/off grid living have contributed to our new life. By preference, we are adopting lifestyle changes that are intrinsic to homesteading and off grid living. By necessity, we have become suburban survivalists. In fact, one could say that Senior Suburban Survivalism is a new alternative lifestyle for suburban members of The Poor Middle Class. We are learning to balance these alternate lifestyles to create a new life that is affordable and that works for us.

What Is Survivalism?

senior suburban survivalismSurvivalism is defined in Wikipedia as “. . . a movement of individuals or groups who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international.” Preparation tends to involve the ability to live in rustic, primitive conditions. It can include altering one’s relationship to the political, social and economic establishment.

For The Poor Middle Class, serious disruption to our social (economic) order has already taken place. It means that we are no longer middle class financially. But we still live in a Middle Class material world. There are steep financial requirements to live comfortably and securely in that world. But they are beyond our reach.

Additionally, the current political climate may cause our social order to be disrupted even further. Be that as it may, there are aspects of survivalism as well as qualities of homesteading and off grid living that we are applying to our suburban, poor middle class lives. Out of necessity, we have become suburban survivalist. Out of desire, we are also adopting homesteading and off grid living qualities. Our hope is that our new formula for living will work even when life is more of a challenge.

senior suburban survivalism
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.

 

Homesteading and Off Grid Living

Homesteading involves living off the land, in a simple and close relationship with nature. Off grid living involves the absence of municipal utilities such as electricity, gas, heating and cooking sources as well as water. This elimination of this dependency is by choice.

Both of these lifestyles sound exciting and romantic to me. But these alternate lifestyles are for younger folks who are more robust than we are. Therefore, a compromise of incorporating homesteading/off grid qualities into our lives as senior suburban survivalists is one way we can live our dream. Below is the video introduction to Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. They are well respected ‘leaders’ of the of homesteader/off grid living community. As you can see from the video, Doug and Stacy have found great joy in their homesteading/off grid life.

 

Our New Life As Senior Suburban Survivalists
We have been forced into senior suburban survivalism rather than able to chose homesteading/off grid living for two reasons:
• our age-the rigorousness life of homesteading/off grid living is for younger folks
• our financial circumstances-we do not have any financial resources to purchase land or materials to create an off grid homestead

Senior Suburban Survivalism
‘Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen: Home of Healthy, Probiotic Food and Drinks’ is one of my pages on Facebook

In spite of our limitations, we still derive great pleasure from aspects of our new life. Here are ways that we have adopted into our daily lives what we can of ‘the real thing’ as homesteader/off grid type folks:
• Housing-our senior housing is affordable, we have no mortgage to pay and we would be homeless or close to it without this amenity
• Food-the weekly food pantry we get food from has become our personal vegetable garden
• Foraging-local parks and green spaces make foraging still possible in the suburbs
• Traditional food & beverage preparation and preservation-these techniques are totally viable, easy to learn, close to nature, full of healthy probiotics, are frugal and avoid food waste

senior suburban survivalism
Making Kombucha, One of my Favorite Drinks and Hobbies
• Living a simpler and slower life-we have chosen to slow our lives down even though we still live in the fast paced suburbs
• Budgeting-we spend very carefully and as little as possible while sticking to a strict budget
• Acquiring things like Clothes and Furniture-we utilize free resources from our food pantry, our neighborhood, flea markets and thrift stores

 

 

Conclusion
I am an eager beginner in understanding what homesteading, off grid living and survivalism are and how we can incorporate them into our lives. I feel that we have embraced the spirit of them and welcome whatever works into our home and lives. So far, we have found that as we simplify and scale down, our lives have become richer and fuller. We look forward to the bounty of adventures and discoveries that lie ahead on this journey of our new life.

Senior suburban Survivalism

 

 

 

Sources & Resources

The Financial Survival Toolkit from Viper Tool Storage
The Poor Middle Class
Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Resources
Definition of Survivalism
Homesteading/Survivalism
Off Grid with Doug and Stacy-Homestead Homies
Living Off Grid for Thirty Years: A Story of Isolation Through happiness
The Secret Shame of Middle-Class America by Neal Gabler
Fifty Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White
The Homeless Encampment in Howell, NY.
Ask A Prepper
The Lost Ways
Food Preservation and Fermentation
Survival Food Reserves

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Creating An Authentic Story

 

 

Tell Me A Story
We love stories. We can read a book or have one read to us. Perhaps a story is online or viewable on the multiplicity of media available. Ultimately, the results of the creation of an authentic story is a treat for us all. Besides entertaining, a story can be informative. In addition, it can promote a business or a product. Whatever the purpose, the process is basically the same. In this post, the focus is on the process.

The Creation of a Story
The process of creating an authentic story requires intensive research and lots of writing. I’ve created several stories containing the required elements. In all four authentic story situations, there was access to primary sources and extensive research. Sometimes having access to primary sources is impossible. So when it does happen, it can be very special for both the writer and the reader.

Four Authentic Stories
The authentic stories here touch upon four different non-fiction topics:
• business-a multi-million dollar corporation that started in a janitor’s closet
• social issues-The Middle Class Poor Crisis, a serious situation that exists today
• creativity-a creative-organizational process called Knolling
• music-some very special musicians

Each of these stories is set up as a series of blog posts. To read each of them, click on their link. That will be the first post of the story. You will be able to read the additional posts from there.
 

The Story of A Corporation That Started In A Janitor’s Closet
The Charrette Corporation Chronicles
The Charrette red van was part of my intense research & writing process
The Charrette Red Van Travelled from Boston to New York Daily Long Before The Invention of Federal Express Overnight Delivery.

 

A Social Issue called, ‘The Poor Middle Class Crisis’
The Poor Middle Class Crisis
poor middle class financial survival toolkit
The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans

 

A Creative Organzational System Based on Florence Knoll Furniture Designs, Knolling
Knolling
 
What Is Knolling? From 10 Bullets. 2009 by Tom Sachs
What Is Knolling? From 10 Bullets. 2009 by Tom Sachs Posted on the CreativeMarket.com Blog, August 19,2015

 

Some Very Talented Singers
Expressions of Creative Passion
 
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The ‘Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll

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