My family (self, fiance, and two children, ages 4 and 7) is currently homeless in Los Angeles. We are at a complete loss here... can anyone provide any insight, advice, anything at all to help us figure out what on earth to do?
posted by chasethecarrot to human relations (69 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
It's a looooong story, but to sum it up as much as possible, I was an independent student in my hometown (anytown, USA...somewhere in the Midwest..). I had a 4.0 GPA after earning my Associate's Degree, as well as several impressive accolades in regards to all of the community outreach I had done, scholarship foundations I founded, and student government positions I held (VP of the Honors Student Council, for instance). I discovered that I couldn't afford to continue my education at any of the local four-year universities, but as a community college student at that time, I couldn't complete my Bachelor's unless I transferred to a 4-year. So, on a tip from a friend at school, I started applying to some of the more prestigious schools all over the country, that would pay my full tuition if I could just be deemed worthy enough to be accepted.
I was endlessly thrilled when I received my acceptance packets, from Columbia in New York, and USC in L.A. Going to either one would mean moving across the country, but I didn't have a support system to speak of in my hometown anyway, and attending one of these far away schools was my only hope of achieving a Bachelor's Degree (and therefore, in my opinion, a better future for my children), so we decided to go for it. We moved to L.A. a little over a year ago....and we've been battling homelessness ever since.
The thing is that the cost of living out here is about four times what it was in my hometown- but minimum wage is the same. I honestly don't know how people without high paying careers are possibly affording this!! My goal, obviously, is to obtain my degree and THEN have a high enough paying career to be able to afford this cost of living... but I'm currently at a point where my entire college career is in jeopardy! My struggle with raising children and being homeless over the last year has led to being forced to withdraw from classes, and as a result I am now on academic and financial aid probation. If I don't solve my housing problem so I can start catching up on my schoolwork, I will be kicked out of college- permanently!!! I won't be able to return unless I can pay for it myself, which I simply cannot do... my inability to pay the state school's tuition in my hometown, even with the full aid of the Pell grant and student loans, was why I moved out here (for the full scholarships) in the first place... if I flunk out and am left with the "you can only come back if you can pay for it yourself" option, that will simply be the end of my college career. I can't stress the seriousness of that particular aspect of this whole nightmarish situation enough-- I'm about to lose my entire life's hopes and dreams... any hope of giving my children ANYTHING that they deserve in life!
I am disheartened, ashamed, miserable... I just don't know what to do anymore. I am currently waiting on a phone call in regards to a long term housing program that my family may be eligible for, in which case we may actually be housed sometime in the next month or two, which would obviously be WONDERFUL. However, even with that INCREDIBLE opportunity, that still leaves my family struggling to sleep and survive entirely in a very small car for, potentially, several more weeks (or even months). What we need is a short-term solution, or at least, that's how it appears. We should be able to solve our long term problem with this program that we are eligible for, but we are truly at the end of our rope with sleeping in our car... we really need some OTHER short-term solution until we get into permanent housing.
We have contacted EVERY shelter (that we've been able to find, anyway), and NONE of them have space for all four of us. So I am posting this question here to see if anyone out there has any ideas, anything at all. All I want to do is earn my degree and work my tail off so my kids can have the life I never had... but right now we're living in a tiny car and I feel like more of a failure as a parent than ever. Should I have just stayed and worked at McDonald's for the next fourteen years, until my kids were out of the house, before trying to earn a degree so I could give them a better life....??? I wouldn't have been able to give them a better life until after they were grown if I had done it that way... but they might not have had to live in a car for a period of time if I had done it that way.... I just don't know... :'(
So, again, I'm throwing this to my fellow MeFites in hopes of a better solution. If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask-- our "story" is a veeeery long one, and I tried to keep this short (the kids are fighting and I have a very limited amount of time with internet access, so I always have to be as quick as I can!), so there are, inherently, endless amounts of details left out here, and I don't know which ones might be pertinent to certain people in order for them to provide some kind of advice or idea, so just don't hesitate to ask me anything; I'm happy to answer, especially if it helps me find some kind of solution to this terrifying situation! Either way I do thank you all for taking the time to read this and I wish you all a wonderful day.
P.S. It occurs to me that this detail is probably important- our family currently has about thirty dollars to our names, and my fiance and I are both looking for employment every day, although it is difficult without being able to keep ourselves cleaned up. However, we have put in about fifty resumes each (seriously!), but that has only yielded ONE interview so far, and the results of that interview have yet to be determined. Nothing else has looked at all promising so far, unfortunately, but we are trying our best.
I will leave it at that for now... Again, thank you all in advance for your time and energy here. We greatly appreciate it.