One of the great challenges I faced in my life was finding affordable housing. Many years ago I faced a divorce and I didn’t have a place to live in consequence. It wasn’t just a struggle to find housing, the price tag associated with it was a great burden. When you’re young, as most of you can recall, it is difficult to be able to afford $650/month in rent. I was making less than $20k/year as a teacher, I had no money in savings, and I had student loan bills that were crazily high. I figured I had to find a second job fast. I think I applied to over 40 different places before landing a job as a golf cart washer at a local golf course. It took a year or so, but I eventually worked my way up to be able to afford a decent 2 bedroom apartment.
What did I do in the meantime? Man, was that a challenge. I stayed in the basement of a friend’s place for $100/month before I felt like I was beginning to feel like an immense burden. Some of this was my own youthful insecurity, but some of it was also them feeling like I had taken advantage for too long. I think I lived there for 4 months (promising them I would be out in 2 months).
Then I was able to take care of a co-worker’s house for 4 months as he took his extended vacation to Mexico. It was fast approaching the time where I would need to move out and it was getting really hard to find anything affordable. I felt like a failure on a myriad of levels and it led to an increasing depression that I was able to get out of down the road. At the moment though, I was down, low on money, low on opportunity, and I still didn’t have a place of my own. I was finally able to strike a deal with a friend where I would pay $200/month for 6 months. Luckily, I worked my way up before the 6 month deadline and I was able to afford that 2 bedroom apartment.
I’m writing this as a reminder of why we are investing in this affordable housing project. We always think of the homeless when we think of people who need affordable living spaces, but there are people who are like I was. These people are: in a very difficult economy to find a decent job, they are loaded with student debt, they are busy working multiple jobs, and they feel bad about it (as they shouldn’t). The last part of that last sentence was the worst for me. I carried a burden of failure for far too long and it does creep up every now and then when I do a poor job at work or am not able to afford a bill. The immediate concerns of finding a place to live aren’t just about living in a decent place, they are also about psychological well-being and future stability. That being said, I couldn’t imagine not finding a place to live at all.