Settling in for a brief little rant here. I see the SNAP program debate, the term “welfare bum” and a whole host of other slaps at people receiving public assistance. People “work the system” and commit fraud, need to be drug tested, blah, blah.
And a big deal is made over how long people get benefits.
You want to know why some people stay as long as they do? Because there is no bridge. No way of easing into the world of independence.
I was on public assistance for a while, a long while, and I was mortified every time I went shopping or cashed a check.
But that is nothing compared to the terror in my heart right now, 8 months after my last bit of assistance was terminated.
During the period while assistance is in play, there is no extra money. There is no way to pay for car repairs, home repairs or anything else. Credit scores take hit after hit until you are decimated. You use a credit card to buy needed clothes for work, to fix the car or pay for glasses. You can only get a car that you need to get to work at a 17% interest rate.
You rob Peter to pay Paul until the mere suggestion of a loan, even a secured loan, is enough to make bankers snort coffee out of their nose.
Then, when you do get a job and you cruise up the level of being ineligible for help, you better hope nothing goes wrong. Because you have no savings. And no credit.
So when the car has problems, you skip a payment here and there to get it back on the road. You’ll get that under control and start to pay back the utility companies with a repayment plan.
But when the big stuff hits…look out. Three weeks ago I was told that we need a new roof – it currently rains in my basement, in my office and on top of the dryer. About $4000 before it’s done. Half up front, half when the job is complete. But with no wiggle room, no roof. Had a quick stop gap applied for a couple hundred and that is all we had. It just slowed down the drops, but they still come in.
And today I had a technician come to repair what I thought was the thermostat on our furnace. But when he left, he refused to turn the furnace on. The boiler is corroded and it poses a carbon monoxide risk. It is unsafe. Cost to replace? $6000.
So we are looking at about 10 grand to get our house habitable. To be safe.
And because we are no longer low income, there is no aid available. And we have no family to speak of, certainly the few that are still alive don’t have any to loan.
And we have no place to go. I work from home, so without a house, I am unemployed.
All the work, all the effort to come out on the other side of aid is for nothing. And I have to look at my son and explain why it is cold in here, despite the little space heaters. So I turned the burner on myself. I’ll be going shopping for carbon monoxide detectors later. When I get off work.
And Santa is going to die this year, and my son is just five, so that breaks my heart. But there is no choice in this situation.
You want to know why people stay on aid? Because the alternative is this. With my job and loss of aid, I am looking at losing my house, losing my job and putting my family’s lives at risk..
On assistance, I didn’t have much, but I had a safety net when catastrophe hit.
I can sympathize with the people who linger on public assistance. Because when you step up, it better be a big step up. Because it’s sink or swim.