April 18, 2017

The high price of subsidized housing

I started writing this post in Oct 2015 but left it unfinished because this topic makes me angry and depressed. But in the last month Screamypants (my next door neighbor) feloniously assaulted her own guest, my moth war proved to be hopeless, and someone took a heroin withdrawal shit in the elevator.


You cannot understand the transaction until you've lived it but let me try to explain: subsidized housing is easy on the checkbook but takes a big bite out of your pride. I am willing to give up dignity for happiness, ready to sacrifice my ego to create a partnership of love and caring. But I resent paying what can feel like a piece of my soul to rent a crummy apartment that was designed, built and maintained on the cheap by people who largely don't care.

Subsidized housing is the Hav a Heart trap for humans. First you hand over bank statements, have your income checked by IRS, bring your Social Security card and photo ID, and spend an hour signing a tall stack of forms that equate to "don't eat lead paint" and "don't set the building on fire." You think you're getting everything you need: a sturdy box, food, your own space. Later you realize it's a metal cage and the out-of-date tuna doesn't smell quite right. But by that time you're stuck living what can be a nightmare in theoretically normal housing.

From the outside my life probably seems fine. The victim blaming voice in my head even suggests that it's partly my fault for making this look too easy. My options are slim, being unable to work and living on $735/mo disability. Without my disability I could work, without my disability I could drive, without my disability I wouldn't need quick access to Seattle's medical centers. But with my disability I am poor and practically invisible.

I feel affinity for this quote about raccoons. "Their willingness to persist on our leftovers while living in marginal habitats makes them very common."


Fun fact: while I've been writing this two Very Loud Women have been hollering at a third woman in the parking lot outside, at 1:30am. Third woman took a building resident's parking spot. The building resident parked their van behind her. And the two others are trying to Very Loudly direct her out of the spot. Third woman is a poor driver and terrible at geometry, however, so this has carried on for at least 15min and she's no closer to being free. I wish I had a hose to turn on them.


  1. Our society does not prioritize healthcare or housing, or generally meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. I see you, and I hear you.

  2. Like everything, it's a trade-off but it sounds like the pluses outweigh the minuses for now. We use a noise machine (link below) every night and it definitely helps us sleep!


  3. The worst thing about being on welfare was the constant scrutiny. Lack of autonomy, lack of privacy. Although, jumping through the hoops of private insurance for my husband's disability wasn't any better. Much as I complain about the bottom-tier rental we live in, it's reasonably well managed and my neighbours are mostly quiet normal citizens going about normal middle-class business. Sometimes I wonder if we should've fought harder for my husband's disability payments, but it was such a relief to step away from the system, and I had that luxury. I'm so sorry it's so crappy. :(

    1. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this as well. It is a relief to escape from the scrutiny and bureaucracy, and I'm glad you're able to have a more normal life :)


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