Financial crisis when I have awful credit and am too sick to work
August 15, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I posted here about my financial situation of being on disability for mental health reasons. Right now my PTSD symptoms are huge and all-consuming, so I am not able to accomplish much at all. However, I'm hitting a financial crisis point and need to find some remedy. My credit is too bad to get any kind of loan and I don't know who I could ask for one personally. Do you have any suggestions?
posted by mermaidcafe to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Would anything Modest Needs offers fix anything for you...?
posted by kmennie at 10:43 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, I am unclear about what you need. Obviously, more money would be good. But what specifically are you needing money for? I have looked back a bit at some of your recent questions to try to get some context and, based a bit on that, here are some thoughts:

If you are in need of basic resources like food and clothing, there are a number of food pantries in the town you recently indicated you were living in. (I can memail you the links I came up with if you want them.)

When I was homeless in downtown San Diego and just did not have enough money, I got free food and free clothes and free hygiene items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine pads, et al) from several different sources. I learned what days each was open, what kinds of things each offered that might work for me and planned for hitting each place up as often as I was allowed if it was something that fit some need of mine. And I cobbled together enough to survive at a time when I often had basically no money (except, sometimes, literally what change I found on the street as I walked around).

My experience in downtown San Diego was that there were actually a lot, lot more places that gave away free food or had other services than could be found on the Internet. I sometimes tripped across something and was told that it was a regular (often weekly) event but I had not seen it listed in any of the paper handouts given away by various homeless services and emergency food services. I also sometimes was given a flier for something or heard of something via word of mouth. Some of those things, I never got around to checking out or it didn't sound like something that would work for me. But I am mentioning that to say that a lot of help is not very visible. A lot of the help that is available is almost like an underground. So there may be more available than you realize but you need to find it.

So you can start with an Internet search but also your local library may have a paper handout listing services and some of the bigger organizations acting as "umbrella" services may have paper handouts. I often got handouts filled with inaccuracies. There was some leg work involved in making sure that a particular thing was actually available, that the address and times and so on were accurate. (I started a website to try to track the corrected information for my own benefit because I could not find a reliable source of accurate, comprehensive information.)

There is also 211 which I originally heard of as a phone number. So I think in addition to their website, if you have a phone, you should be able to call 211 and tell them what you need and they can point you to possible resources. I think I only called them once when I needed to file my taxes and I needed to do it for free. I was broke. I couldn't afford to pay any kind of filing fee. I think there was only one option but I got my taxes filed for free that year and on time, avoiding additional late fees and penalties for late filing.

So an Internet search and calling 211 and going to some of the larger organizations and asking for paper handouts of information will probably get you a list of some of the more obvious things locally available. If that isn't enough, a lot of churches have free things available but it isn't strongly advertised. I have had religious people tell me repeatedly "Our church does a meal at the park on x night of the week." Or "Our church does a meal at the church on x night of the week."

Yes, I realize that most of them are basically trying to recruit me into their church. Some are obnoxious about it and some are not. How much I have been willing to put up with being (sometimes obnoxiously) preached at varied depending upon how desperate my circumstances were. I ate a few meals that involved first listening to a sermon. I stopped doing that when I became less desperate. And, also, a really short list of religious-based organizations genuinely impressed me with their devotion to service without trying to cram their beliefs down my throat and that was a positive experience. So even if you aren't religious and do not really want to be converted, it is an option to call around and say "Hey, I am in serious crisis and I was wondering if you have food/clothes/whatever?"
posted by Michele in California at 11:04 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have medical assistance? Can you look into an inpatient therapy program?
posted by PlutoniumX at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for your input!

To touch on some of the questions, I've been investigating food pantries near me. There are 2 within walking distance. One has a complicated registration system (which isn't to say I shouldn't get help figuring it out and go) and the other is complicated, plus the amount of food I am allotted as a single person is only enough for a couple of meals.

As far as community meals at churches and such go, that's tricky because I am a vegetarian and some places can accommodate that and others not as well. But if I want to go to one, I have to be able to get there, and sometimes that is a hardship when I don't even have the $2 bus fare.

I do have medical assistance. Unfortunately, a lot of treatment facilities don't accept it, so I'm rather limited in where I can go for help. Though I think the hospital here does a great job, it's not what I need right now and I doubt they would admit me anyway. Given how much trouble I'm having with daily living tasks, I have thought to try to find a place, but I don't know of anyplace I can go that accepts my insurance and isn't as restrictive as the hospital.
posted by mermaidcafe at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2014

Yeah, I hear you.

If you are still in the city you said you were in, they have a Catholic Charities. I have used a couple of food banks in a couple of places that were under their umbrella. It is a particularly good program and probably the rules there are similar to here. Here, you can get a roughly three day supply of food once a month about eight times a year and they try to give you some say in what you take, to the degree they are able. I have a lot of dietary restrictions so the fact that I got some degree of choice really helped make the food more useful to me.

Also, a lot of places that do meals or other programs have more casual food give-aways that are not well advertised. One of the places I was going for other assistance (clothing, help with replacing birth certificates and ID's) allowed me to get a free breakfast (coffee and pastries, as much as I wanted/as long as it held out) while I waited for services, allowed me to pick up a "snack" (kind of a light bagged lunch) once a week and also allowed me to pick up a loaf or two of bread and sometimes free fruit/veggies, depending on what they had available. So I generally went once a week to get other services and also have a free breakfast, take a snack bag with me and grab whatever bread and produce I was allowed to have. The bread and produce thing was not well advertised.

That theme of free bread and produce and whatever was common to several of the programs I attended and was not well advertised. It was something I discovered eventually, often kind of casually or accidentally. Once I learned how many different places I could get free bread (usually guaranteed) and produce (much more hit-or-miss, depending upon availability) I struggled a lot less to fill my belly. Given my dietary constraints, the free bread and produce was often much more acceptable than, say, the free hot meals.

Catholic Charities (and one other place) were also willing to help me fill out the paperwork for food stamps. I was so sick at the time that I very much appreciated their help. Trying to fill it out was a challenge for me. So maybe if you let them know you have some issues and the paperwork is a problem, someone will help you with getting registered at the food bank near you that has the complicated registration.

Also, if you have a phone, you could start calling different programs and let them know that one of your issues is transportation. There might be partial assistance available for that. In downtown San Diego, one program would give people, I think, a one day bus pass if they had certain kinds of appointments (like medical appointments) and another program provided a van once a week that drove people to the DMV to get identification. (I walked to the DMV to get identification. It was quite the hike but much more acceptable to my very aspie sons who did not want to be crammed into a van full of strangers early some morning.)

Also, if you haven't already, you might look into a) seeing if you can get qualified for the disability transit rates and b) see if you qualify for the paratransit service (service specifically for Americans with Disabilities). If you are still in (city) and have a medicare card, you can get the reduced fare: •Medicare Card (qualifies for permit regardless of age)

Anyway, if it were me, given what I have learned the last few years, I think I would start listing every church within walking distance and start calling them and asking if they have any programs that might help you and explain your transportation problems, that you are in serious trouble, etc and see what they might do for me. And if that was still not sufficient, I would call ALL the churches and see if someone would kindly drive me to a free meal once a week or something if there was nothing close enough to home.

best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2014

How do you feel about Indian cuisine? You may want to check out the langar at your local gurdwara. Vegetarian food is served for free to all visitors, regardless of their religion, caste, race, age, gender, etc. Previously on Metafilter.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:42 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also check out Madison's Food Not Bombs group. It may only provide one or two vegan meals a month, but every little helps. And they may have more specific information on local vegetarian-friendly resources.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:52 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some follow-ups:

I tried Modest Needs, but they only work with folks who are working but still struggling. Since I am unable to work, I don't qualify.

I have reached out in the past to Food Not Bombs, but have not ever gotten a reply.
posted by mermaidcafe at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2014

Would a bicycle help with getting around? A friend of mine works at Freewheel bike shop and on Sundays they will help you make one for free, no skills or supplies needed. If the bus fare would be a problem, I'd meet you there some week with the four bucks myself.
posted by teremala at 5:12 PM on August 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

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