I don't use drugs or alcohol. I don't rob, steal or cheat. I am not the beggar holding up homemade placards on the busy streets. I didn't live under the Davidson Street Bridge, but I, too, have been evicted from my home and now when I call you it is from my Obama phone.
I own designer shoes, clothes, and purses. I am polished and professional. I have a college education. I have travelled across the country working in my chosen occupation. I am a great communicator. I carry my resume` in a leather portfolio yet when you stand next to me in the elevator and we smile and exchange pleasantries I get off on the next floor so that I may apply for public assistance.
After you interview me for a job, I visit a pantry for food. I pawn my expensive jewelry for bus fare, toiletries and the rare treat off the Value Menu. I have bathed in public restrooms. I have slept in emergency room lobbies. I have cried myself asleep with one eye open to protect myself and my remaining property.
What does homeless look like? Who do you see when you pass by me on the city streets? I am not disheveled or haggard if and when we meet. I am now a jobless woman trying to get back on my feet. So don't become confused about what you see just because I am not pushing all my belongings in a shopping cart down the street.
I am the new face of homeless! It is I! It is me! The college-educated woman broken and lonely trying to get back on my feet!
Presently, I am sitting out this semester at Ivy Tech. I am pursuing culinary arts as a new career field.
I am living with my son and his family temporarily. I have been homeless for six months now. I do have a possible housing solution through the Homeless Initiative Project.
Six months ago, I was a full-time student studying culinary arts transitioning from a career as a nurse. I shared a home with a man to whom I was engaged. The relationship abruptly ended and I was told to leave. I had nowhere to go. No job. No funds. I was given 30 days to move. After 30 days I still had no place to go. Numerous calls to shelters yielded negative results. The beds were full and I was told to keep calling back. After 30 days, I received an eviction notice on the front door of the home where I was living. Shortly thereafter, I was escorted out by IMPD.
Relatives really had no room for me. I spent a couple nights here and there sleeping on my children's couches. Finally, I received a hit. A women's transitional housing facility had a room available. On the day of the intake interview, I learned that it was paid housing and I had no job to pay for anything. Through the grace of God and the compassion of the facility director, a deal was made. In exchange of becoming the housing manager in this facility I could stay rent-free. I had found shelter and now I needed to find a job. Unfortunately, the intensity of running that facility left me with little time to find employment. I had shelter but I was jobless and penniless.
My children would give me a few dollars each week for toiletries but that was all they could afford. I was no longer able to pay for my medication nor keep my medical appointments. I lapsed into a state of depression and desperation. I had begun to lose hope. I was ready to give up and die.
While sharing my plight with a group of close friends I was given another break. The facility directors of a sober living home needed a housing manager to work part time in exchange for shelter. I took that opportunity to work for housing while having free time to look for a job. I left the women's facility after three months and moved into the sober living home. My new responsibility was to supervise the residents, teach Bible study and a implement a Twelve-Step program. I was the only female in the home with four men. Over time, my personal safety became endangered and, once again, after 3 months I was forced to move.
One of my children has given me temporary shelter while I continue to look for employment and then find my own home. So, that is where I stand today searching, seeking, longing, honest, open-minded and willing to do what is necessary to once again become a responsible, productive member of society with a job and a home.
Sharon D. Felder