The Month From Hell

After being bounced through all three shelters in London through the month I have finally landed on my feet, sort of, although only the struggles have changed. It was a challenge to find anywhere to live in this town, especially with no money for rent.

By pure chance I had met a guy at the lunch at St. Pauls. He was telling me about his place and I ended up going over to see it. Again, by pure chance, the landlord’s fix-it guy happened to be there installing a deadbolt. He mentioned that they had just bought the building and they had a couple of studio and bachelor apartments. He showed me one that had just been completely renovated. Although it was nice, my first reaction wasn’t great because it had no windows. It did have three skylights so it was plenty bright in there, but the thought of living in a place where you couldn’t open a window was unusual to say the least.

It’s a long story, but between a new caseworker at Ontario Works and a most compassionate and understanding landlord I managed to move in just before the end of the month and left the Unity Project shelter at the end of August, ending a month that can best be described as one of the most difficult of my life. There were times I thought of giving up completely. It all seemed so hopeless. The worst moment was probably lying in the stifling heat in the filthy dorm at the Mission, wondering how things had ever got this bad? Eight guys ended up in the hospital that horrible night from heat exhaustion. It was deplorable!

My first night in the new place was spent sleeping on the hard floor because I have no bed or furniture of any kind. I had applied for a discretionary benefit through OW to get some basic furniture, but they lost it in the system and I’ve heard nothing yet. I did manage to find some very cheap items at one of the furniture stores that accepts vouchers from OW, but it will no doubt be gone by the time OW gets their act together. I bought a hunk of foam that I’m sleeping on so my back isn’t broken. Also, a friend from when I worked the Bluesfest is moving out West at the end of this month and he is giving me stuff he can’t take, so that will make things a little better, but it will be a tough month until he leaves.

The only way I managed to survive was to sell my $800 ring for $80; my $300 cue and case for $70 and my bike carrier for $30. Except for my bike, which I really enjoy, I have little left to sell. I’m down to my office chair, which is the only furniture I have and my computer, which I could not live without.

The job is going okay, although I am not getting enough hours to be able to pay my rent. OW will take what I make off my allowance, so I will not be any further ahead. My rent is steep and, of course, I am now feeding myself, although I continue to go to the churches for meals. Thank God for them or I would starve to death. When you line up with the hundreds of people who eat at the churches you have to wonder how these people would survive without the generosity of the church community. It says a lot about the state of our economy when so many people need these soup kitchens to survive.

It is a very lonely time for me. My friends out West have given up on me and I don’t have any friends here in London. My biggest regret of my life is losing contact with my kids. Even with how bad my life is right now I’d still love to talk to my kids and see how they are doing. I have four grandchildren, only one of which I’ve ever seen and that was when she was just a baby. I search for them everyday but haven’t had any luck finding them. My son, Chris, was in Brampton back in 2007 and my daughter, Heather, was in Burlington, but there’s no sign of them on any website anywhere. I’ve tried everything.

For anyone who might still care this is just letting you know what’s up with me.

Take care.