So there I was learning to ask for help, advocating for myself and my children. Becoming depressed because I didn’t think it would take so long to get on with our new life. I didn’t think that it would be so hard to find a home. I had been saving up money but knew that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the initial deposit when I did find a place for us to call home. So I had reached out but would anyone be able to help?
A couple of friends on Facebook helped out. I will never be able to thank them enough for their help, but I still needed more so I had written various veterans organizations asking if they would be able to help us. I sent those letters out and waited. I wasn’t sure if I should call them to see if they had gotten my letters or not, one of the wise advocates at the shelter told me to just wait. Have patience.
So I did I waited. Then one afternoon, May 12th, as the girls and I were playing in the living room at the shelter with the child advocate I checked my email on my Net10 phone. As my email popped up on that little tiny screen I saw an email from FOE ####. It was an email reply to my email I had sent to the Fraternal Order of Eagles!! It said…
At the regularly scheduled meeting last night, the members voted a $500 donation to help you in your effort to get back on your feet.
As a normal rule, though, we don’t give checks directly to individuals (we’ve had some bad experiences in the past).
Would LeeShore Center be willing to act as a pass-through agency if we give a check to them?
Just to let you know, I’m a bit of an admirer of yours. Being an avid follower of a number of Alaska blogs, I’m well aware of your extraordinary efforts to secure fuel for Nunam Iqua a couple winters ago.
If you need to talk to me about how we can handle getting the donation to you, feel free to give me a call on my cell, ###-####.
Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie #####
Through choking tears and overflowing emotion asked the Child Advocate if she could watch the girls. I barely made it to the advocates office and closed the door before I burst into tears of happiness. The advocate in the office was in a panic. What was wrong? I couldn’t even talk, I just handed her my phone and let her read the email. She read it and too was moved to tears but at least she still could speak and she told me that it was karma for all that I had done. I finally managed to find my voice again and through sobs discussed the email with her. Then I asked where the Shelter Manager was?
The Shelter Manager was upstairs in her office and I went out the back door of the advocates office, through the play room and out into the hallway and the Shelter Manager was coming down the stairs. She too saw the condition I was in and was immediately alarmed. I told her what was going on and asked if the shelter would be able to act as a pass through agency? She took my hand and said let’s go see and lead me to the Executive Directors office.
We went into the Executive Director’s office and she too was alarmed demanding to know what was so wrong that I was in tears. The Manager told her that they were happy tears and to just give me a minute. The Director handed me tissue and a couple pieces of chocolate LOL chocolate fixes everything!! I explained to her the situation and she looked at me and then the Manager and said something along the lines of Why of course we can! Then she directed the Manager to handle the matter and if they needed someone to go pick up the check then that was well with in the scope of her duties and that she would do so!
So it began. That was the first of many donations that I received from various local veterans organizations. Now I just had to find a home. The search continued. Calls upon calls were made. I scoured the papers, the internet. The girls and I were walking all over town sometimes 7 miles a day finding every apartment complex we could and getting contact information and calling managers.
When Cece was in therapy Glenna and I would continue our search. The reality offices knew me by name and I would call them every few days and simply say “It’s Ann Strongheart” They would reply that they didn’t have anything but would call me if anything became available.
My first housing voucher had been issued for 60 days. Surely it wouldn’t take longer than 2 months to find a home right? The first 60 days drew to an end. I asked for an extension and was granted one for 30 more days. I was growing frantic, I needed to find us a home. I expanded my search, I lowered my standards, heck I’d take one in the next town over it could be a one bedroom even upstairs. It didn’t matter, I wanted our own home! I wanted out of the shelter. I was depressed and cried myself to sleep many many nights. I started asking everyone I ran into if they knew of any apartments/houses. I was asking cashiers, taxi drivers, therapists, total strangers.
One evening the girls and I were out walking looking for some apartments that an advocate had told us about right downtown within walking distance of everything. We wandered around I took down more phone numbers and left messages for managers to call me back. I pushed the stroller filled with the girls back to the shelter. I was starting to resent every time I’d have to return to the shelter. I was so grateful for a roof over our heads and food on the table but I was so sick of staying there! I was so sick of dealing with other clients and advocates. I had no privacy. I was sick of having to try to lock up Cece’s non dairy snacks in a locker so that they wouldn’t be eaten by other clients. I was sick of having to label all of our food in the kitchen. I was sick of having to do a chore by a certain time and being in by curfew every night. I was sick of the inconsiderateness of other clients and the constant noise. I was just sick of it all. I wanted out and I wanted out NOW!!!
I had received all these donations and saved enough money to be able to move into a new place and even furnish it with the necessities. I just couldn’t find a place. I watched other clients come and go. I saw other clients, single clients, getting their vouchers and finding new homes, moving out of the shelter.
On the evening after our long walk downtown collecting more phone numbers, leaving more messages with apartment managers I walked through this complex. It was filled with beautiful townhomes right there in downtown so close to everything. That evening after I got back to the shelter I was online using my phone browsing through the listings on Craigslist. I saw a listing for a newly refurbished 2 bedroom townhome in downtown. It was too late to call that evening so I waited until the next morning and called.
I talked to the landlord a very nice woman. I asked if she accepted Alaska Housing Vouchers? She did! One hurdle down. I asked where it was located exactly. It was the gorgeous townhomes we had walked through the very night before. I asked if I could see it. We scheduled an appointment and I met her there that afternoon. Another client from the shelter joined me and the girls as I went to look at it. We took a cab and she entertained the girls while I looked at the town home. It was perfect!! Everything I wanted! Now I just had to convince her to rent to me!!
I filled out an application and faxed it to her that evening. I called her to see if she had received it that next morning. She said that she hadn’t received my application but that she felt like she knew me and that I reminded her of her daughter-in-law who has a special needs child. The apartment/town home was mine!!!
Now I just had to call the Alaska Housing Office and schedule an inspection. They have to come and inspect it and make certain that it meets all their requirements. I gave the landlord a check for the deposit to hold the town home for me with the understanding that if it didn’t pass inspection then she would return the check to me immediately.
The inspection was scheduled for July 1st! Would it pass the inspection? Had I found a home at last??
To be continued…