Challenges in Housing: One ‘homeless’ person’s situation

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As I have mentioned in other blog posts, I have experiences which seem to conform to the labels of depression, anxiety, emotional overwhelm, sensory overstimulation, migranes, tics/twitches, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.

Variously these things combine to make it difficult for me to maintain conventional employment.

I’ve spend hundreds of hours online and at the library reading about things like Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, the Highly Sensitive Person, Autistic Spectrum, Fibromyalgia, and other disorders.

While I recognize myself in many of these disorders, none really fit, and not just because I reject the mainstream clinical framework of mental health and illness. I’m pretty sure that if I were to seek out a diagnosis I would likely be labled with some condition or other that would qualify me for Person With Persistant Barriers status within the welfare system.

However, I am loathe to have my experiences framed that way. When I have the space to practice my own very simple coping strategies, I am able to thrive. I am a strong, passionate, creative, intelligent, resourceful person, and I have some pretty fantastic achievements to my name. I have a low stress threshold, a high emotional sensitivity and tend to internalize this stress and emotion to the point that it causes physical pain and psychological meltdowns if I can’t access my coping mechanisms.

I’ve been coping quite well lately, having gained some understanding and acceptance of my self, and having found some coping strategies to avoid the overwhelm.

I still have employment options. I am working with a few other people to create a co-operative that will coordinate a few food based enterprises (the first being soup delivery of bicycle.) I’m starting a job skills program next week that I hope will target the kind of employment I am best suited for. So I am optimistic, even though at the current moment I am homeless and completely broke.

I’m staying for a week with a friend. This week’s mission is to find a place to live. It’s been difficult. This job search program is for 6 weeks, and will pay February’s rent. For this month, I will have to go to welfare.

So because of my income limitations, I am looking for a shared accomadation situation, for less than $400/month. Several times during the course of this housing search, rooms have become available with people that I know, but for each of these situations there has been a list of people wanting to get in, and I’ve been passed over each time. This means renting with people I don’t know, which is a stressful thought, given my sensitivities and eccentricities. To make matters worse, I’ll be needing to ask the landlord to fill out a ‘intent to rent’ form for welfare, a requirement that can be a red flag for many people.

This is not to say that I’m being defeatist about the whole thing. These are just the challenges that I face. This is how some of us end up or remain homeless, despite our best efforts. I don’t have the same range of options as many people, but I’m sure the right situation exists out there for me. For any potential future roomates or landlords out there, these challenges really just manifest in my living situation as having a tendancy at times to be reclusive, and hide in my room to destress and relax. I’m otherwise a pleasant, co-operative, respectful, mellow, responsible roommate.

As an employee, the situation is much different. I do not ‘have a passion for fast-paced, dynamic work environments’. I’m in the process of learning what kind of workplace I am best suited for, and this is one of my goals for this job skill program, to know where to look for a job I can tolerate and keep…

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