Yesterday, I did go up to that office and things were different. They found the paperwork that was lost, but said one piece of the paperwork had to be signed again with a notary and sent me away with it. I didn’t have to wait three hours – only about 45 minutes, and people working at that welfare office did act better generally than what I had experienced any of the other times. That is good.
Logistically, I tried to buy a bus card at a store unsuccessfully with my debit card which they wouldn’t take for it and then to buy a two-trip card with the $5 case I had with me and the store didn’t have one. So, not knowing where else I could get one and not having any change with me to give the bus, we (me and my granddaughter who is 3) walked home. It is about a 45 minute walk doing it by myself however far that is, but with both of us moving slower – it takes a lot longer. Fortunately, it was only 82 degrees yesterday and not 93. But, now I don’t know exactly how to get this piece of paper to the landlords who are an hour away and both work, get it notarized and pick it back up – then go take it back to the welfare office. It seems like any way I think to do it, doesn’t work out right. I have to give them the paper in person during the evening and then either come back or find a way to stay over there at the naked apt with nothing in it until the next night when I can get it back from them. I finally did find their phone number though which was only on one piece of paper that I had turned in and I didn’t have otherwise because a broker had helped me get the apt. And, then on top of that, it is Friday tomorrow – I don’t see how all this could be done and get it back to them today as the caseworker had asked me to do.
It is as if the caseworker believes that I have the car the worker probably has – in their estimation of what I can get done driving or riding on a bus an hour away and back – or something. I don’t get it. These caseworkers work with people who are disabled, elderly, women with young children, pregnant women, people who are literally in wheel chairs and on crutches and terribly impoverished without resources like cars of their own – or they wouldn’t even be there. Yet, the people working there to help them insist on things being done in a time-frame that would be difficult to accomplish even if a personal vehicle and lots of money to do it were available to each of us.
I did have the chance to speak with Ms. Welsh on the phone, the day before yesterday who is the supervisor for the caseworker and she is an amazing woman. Yesterday when I went to the welfare office, people working there were amazingly nicer but more efficient too, although I suspect they won’t have changed much in the long run unfortunately. The paperwork that was lost ended up being found on the supervisor’s desk with the intention of returning it unapproved for the lack of that landlord’s signature not being notarized. There is no telling how long it would have been before I would have known that was the problem at all if it had not happened this way. As it was, this has been a three week episode of returning over and over again to that office without ever finding that out or seeing anyone who could explain that to me so I could fix it. That could have gone on for months and maybe for some people coming there for help – it does. That is unacceptable to force upon the most vulnerable in our communities. I don’t care if it is New York City or not – that is unacceptable.
It is easy to think that if I had never tried to do something more with my time and efforts despite the difficulties of poverty, disabilities and head injury – that I would have been better off. At least, the money I’ve sacrificed to do it would have let me buy nicer clothes from the thrift store, better shoes, more meat and cheese instead of cans of tuna and soda crackers – among other things.
And, I wouldn’t have had to accept people’s cast-offs and throw-aways just to have things in my house that I needed, and donations of a few dollars here and there to buy art supplies. I also wouldn’t have had to sell for nearly nothing and give away everything I had spent years to acquire to have a working studio at my previous apt. – that now I have none of. But then, I wouldn’t have needed any of that stuff either if I had simply accepted that I wouldn’t ever be able to accomplish a living from any of it no matter how much I did or how much I learned or how well I figured out to bring any of it to the marketplace.
It isn’t like I can ever go in and get the millions of dollars that fund other start-ups and small businesses. It won’t happen because I have not had the money to properly keep up with my bills and therefore my credit score won’t allow them to help me – not even through the programs intended to serve me and people like me in the community. Those funds are for someone else who owns a home, has nearly the best credit score and has never been disabled or on welfare. That is how they look at it.
I went to the Women’s Small Business Center in New Brighton, Staten Island last year and talked to a number of others like it around the city whose funding is intended to help minority, disabled, women and special under-served populations and under-served areas of the city (which is the area where I am living, in fact), and they explained it to me. A credit score of 580 or 650 is required depending on which program it is – even Kickstarter uses that measure to determine what projects are allowed on their site.
And, I was supposed to bring my own equity from home ownership as collateral to get any of that help through any of the programs made for people like me. Can you imagine? Why would I need to start a business or have even attempted it if I had all that – and I certainly would not have needed their help to get funding to continue or to start up if I had all that as well. But other people manage to get all that. I couldn’t even get $500 to buy some Google Ads to market the work I do have online and pay for lost sales that happened during the hurricane Sandy three weeks of impact from the SBA disaster loans.
I obviously have a business and was in the affected area – even the businesses across the street from me were able to get that money – but no, it was because they only make it available to people who have outstanding credit scores and collateral to put on the table. Seems rather pointless that I went three times to go get help from the SBA to fill out that paperwork, including getting a ride out to a field where they had a tent and then taking buses over to the Staten Island College where they had an SBA Disaster Assistance Field Office set up.
They were very nice though, despite it taking us four hours to fill out the paperwork for it – but no help could be given – not $500, not $100 and not even to re-imburse me for the $150 I had to spend to get my computer fixed because it was damaged by the storm power surges and nonsense. I couldn’t restore the software that I had owned which was helping me both for my head injury and function – nor for the business things I do to create designs and marketing materials. Nope – nothing. It was more than a waste of time, it was upsetting, cost me money to go to those places and back, then did nothing to encourage, inspire, support or to go forward. If anything, it was almost more devastating than the damn storm.