There was a small part of me that knew it was coming, having been down this road many times before, just not in the last 12 years. In the courtroom last week, and in the hallway today, listening to people trying to negotiate more time to move their lives and families, was a study in heartbreak. A cancer stricken man, hobbled by the disease and walking with a cane, and his wife, whose mother had just passed away. A single mother, 3000 miles away from any family, with a seriously ill child, who had made plans to return to her home state, but not soon enough for her landlord. A man whose financial situation had already deteriorated to bankruptcy, dashing between courtrooms. And me, whose determination to handle my excessive debt in at least a somewhat honorable fashion (payment arrangements, 2nd job (I only broke even), clinical lab rat, market research, etc), did not pay off fast enough to keep the apartment I've had for nearly the last 8 years.
I am far from unusual. According to a current study, California leads the nation in homelessness, especially children. With one of the highest costs of living in the nation, no one that currently lives here is surprised. The appalling lack of affordable housing for families, coupled with the exorbitant deposits for new rentals, both feed and exacerbate the issue of homelessness. Help doesn't always exist for the working class, which is a sad testament to our fundamental misunderstanding of the issues surrounding homelessness.. It is not a lack of ambition, or poor moral character, that makes for homeless families. It is being priced out of the housing and rental markets, along with fairly serious employment instability, that contributes to a new class of homeless parents and children.
Before we found the place where we currently live, we lived in a residential motel not far from here. I went to visit the motel today, just in case a return stay is in the cards. Of course, it's more expensive than it used to be (It's been 8 years, after all), and we still have to check out for one night every 28 days, but there is a stove, a refrigerator, and a full bathroom, so we can make it livable until we can find someplace else to call home. I found it very telling that the motel was almost full, and that there was only one one bedroom "suite" left. The housing situation has become so terrible that a place meant for a temporary stopover has become a permanent residence for many, who for so many reasons can no longer qualify for a regular rental.
I suppose I am soon to be one of them. With only until the end of next week before I have to deal with the embarrassment of a Sheriff's notice and an official lockout. I will likely have to move somewhere, anywhere as quickly as possible while finding somewhere for the rest of my belongings to go. With no money (Remember? I drove myself into crushing debt trying to keep this place.), and next to no time. And based on the 30 odd cases I saw on the calendar today, I won't be alone. We are a first world nation, and we still lack both the will, and the ability to solve this issue of housing that working men and women can afford without breaking themselves, or living an entire state away from their employment. How unutterably sad. For us.