By Yvonne Farrell, a very low-income senior renter living in Washington, D.C.
As a very low-income renter and a senior citizen just a year and a half away from receiving Social Security, I have found it frustrating enough to stay on food stamps, but finding consistent rent assistance, I have discovered, is nearly impossible.
There seems to be a dichotomy between food assistance, which is seen as a moral imperative, and rent assistance, which is treated as an opportunity for guilt trips, sermons, lectures about race, unsolicited advice, and rejections. Perhaps it is the overwhelming narrative of “homeownership” and “property values” that drowns out us poor renters who just need a few thousand dollars’ help over a couple years.
Whatever it is, I find that I get more run-around and rejection than rent assistance. It is only my long tenure in my current apartment unit and the indulgence of my landlord that keeps me housed right now, because otherwise, with my arrears, I would be evicted into homelessness.
I believe that HUD, with the current focus on eviction prevention, is going to come up with a solution – maybe with Section 8 vouchers, which are not available in my jurisdiction – that will eventually solve this crisis.
I am old, tired beyond words, and so discouraged and scared. If society would be willing to provide low-barrier eviction prevention money to our landlords on demand from us and them, people like me would not have to live in fear.