cricketdiane, disabilities, disability rights, domestic violence survivors, head injury, housing authorities Georgia, independent living, new york city, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, section 8, Staten Island, surviving domestic violence
(This is a letter I wrote intending to send to the worker responsible for denying my extension for a second thirty days or even two extra weeks to be able to secure an apartment in New York City – despite the hurricane and her not having told me in the first place to come here in August rather than in October to pick up my voucher and despite the specific set of disabilities I have including head injury and ptsd that she knows makes it much more difficult and time consuming as well as requiring reasonable accommodations in order to successfully accomplish the move) –
(The post before this one explains more about my disabilities and some of the tools I use to function well despite those disabilities – all of which are known by the workers at every agency in Georgia especially Section 8) –
Dear Ms. Sinclair –
(Marietta Housing Authority Social Worker Responsible for Transfers called “Portability” in Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Programs)
Not told by your office that I was required to be in New York by August 18, to pick up the voucher -
October 9, I took a flight to New York to begin my search for an apartment because you did not tell me that the voucher had been received by NYCHA. The first time I heard that I was supposed to have been in New York before August 18 to get the voucher and attend an orientation, was when I was sitting with Ms. Scanlon, the portability specialist in New York and she told me that she had faxed their receipt of the voucher to you with the instructions for me to be here within ten days of that fax to pick it up and arrange for orientation. That was the first I heard of that fact because you had not emailed, called or sent a letter to let me know of it. In fact, Ms. Scanlon found it very hard to believe that I had not been told of that and repeated it several times in our short time together during the meeting.
Was told by MHA that I was not allowed to leave the apartment in Georgia before September 31 –
The other worker that worked with me during the transfer process when I was there to initially request the voucher be ported to New York, told me when I asked her if I could go immediately to New York, said that I would have to wait until October after the apartment was no longer my responsibility once it had been officially given back to the landlord on September 31 at the end of the sixty day notice. She explained that I was responsible for the property until that time and could not leave it to go find a place in New York before the end of the sixty days notice legally transferred the property back to the owner.
Picking up the voucher in NYC, attending orientation and beginning a search started after October 9 –
As a result, the date that I came to New York was October 9. Then, I made an appointment with Ms. Scanlon, the portability specialist here and arranged for an orientation. They were kind enough to allow me to have the voucher despite the fact that I was actually supposed to have picked it up and arranged for the orientation within ten days of their fax to you stating that in August. The orientation I attended was in Brooklyn about the third week of October, but my search for an apartment actually did begin before that time immediately after meeting with Ms. Scanlon.
Hurricane Sandy impacted Staten Island and New York City October 29 -
As you are aware, there was a very damaging hurricane that affected a lot of the areas where my apartment search have been focused since Staten Island is where I had arranged to stay with my daughter while I searched for an apartment where I could use the voucher and its housing costs are not nearly as high as other places in the city.
So, the real amount of time that you have given me to find a place to live in New York using the voucher is far less than your letter would suggest. I have not had since August because you did not tell me that I was to be here at that time and in fact, I wasn’t allowed to come here until October based on what your office explained to me that I was to do.
I have officially recognized mental and psychological disabilities, head injury and PTSD -
Aside from these considerations, I do have disabilities which massively affect my ability to find a place to live using this transfer process. Because of my head injury from many years ago that still impacts my daily living, I use a number of tools and methods to function successfully and to live independently in the community. This move required many of those tools, processes and extra efforts which I did make to insure that I could successfully make this move.
Ahead of time, I mapped out the area from my daughter’s apartment in Staten Island and arranged with the landlord to use the section 8 voucher on her small studio apartment then she would have moved closer to her work and I would have simply lived here in a place that I already knew. I met the neighbors and nearby store owners, learned the bus routes and grocery stores nearby that I would use once I lived here, learned how to get to the city on the ferry and subway system starting from this apartment and mapped out a number of local resources somewhat farther away but still on the island that would be available to me if I needed them.
Then too, I created the circle of support with neighbors immediately near the apartment, several down the street, the owners of the businesses within walking distance (at least a few of them), and with some of the larger resources like the borough offices that I might need to know or to know of me. These are specific processes for my needs because of my specific disabilities and I worked with diligence before moving here to make those arrangements.
Change of plans about renting the apartment where my daughter lives in Staten Island –
When it came time to find a place where I could live, my daughter wanted me to find somewhere else rather than her apartment because she didn’t have the money to move into the city, so at first despite having made the efforts which were very specific to living in her apartment as my home base, I looked at other places on the island as did my daughters for me.
The first studio apartment we arranged for me to get had a gas meter inside the living room coat closet –
My daughter Kasha had found one apartment for me through a realty agent on the north side of the island and we spent a number of days pursuing that one before realizing that it would not pass the inspection because they had the gas meter inside the apartment in a closet by the front door. Apparently they had made a garage into this studio apartment and had encapsulated the gas meter serving the entire residence inside the apartment – obviously a disaster waiting to happen at some point with any gas leak that fills the apartment without warning.
We had worked with the realtor and my daughter had taken at least two days off work to help me go see it, to help me work with the realtor and to fill out his paperwork required of me and to begin learning the area where it sits. The apartment actually would not have worked for a number of other reasons however my daughter insisted that she could help me to learn the routes to the grocery stores which are a bus ride plus a walk away from it and to the ferry that would have required using an entirely different bus route than any of those I had learned ahead of time.
The one bedroom apartment in an older apartment building in St. George, Staten Island –
After it was obvious on my second trip to that first studio apartment, that it would not pass the NYCHA inspection nor was it safe to live there, I thought I had found a place just before the day that I went to the orientation which was in the St. George part of Staten Island within walking distance of the ferry.
Although I didn’t know that area as well, there had been occasions when I went to the borough office and stopped at one particular area down the street from that apartment for coffee and to make some friends in the area – so that apartment could have worked for me with my daughters helping me to map it further for my specific needs which they said they would do.
However, when I picked up the landlord packet from the NYCHA orientation in Brooklyn and returned it to that landlord, he said there were several reasons why it would not work for him to rent it to me, not the least of which was the fact that there had been a complaint with the Department of Buildings against the property that would require three hundred dollars for him to clear and the owners did not want to rent to any more section 8 tenants despite having one long-term resident on section 8 that he described as the best tenant they had ever had.
Went back to NYCHA in Brooklyn for another landlord packet -
Consequently, I continued my search and returned to Brooklyn, a two hour trip each way, to get another landlord packet which they were nice enough to give to me. Then I found a small beach cottage house for rent for the $1200 voucher which had two tiny bedrooms and a little yard on one side. It was through a realty and sits in Midland Beach. I went with one of my daughters to see it and decided to get that one working through the realtor about three days before the hurricane hit our area.
Among the many properties affected by the storm surge and subsequent problems with electricity, boilers, heat systems and mold from the wetness – was that little house. It did not get moved from its foundation and although the realtor called me about three days after the hurricane damage to say it was unaffected, I went there with some people going into the area and recognized that it was in the storm surge damage field as well as having the concurrent damage to everything around it with electricity outages, properties being torn down by heavy equipment and bus services to the nearby streets where their routes run, having been suspended.
Countless hours have been spent by the three of us searching craigslist, realty listings & on foot searching -
Over the course of trying to find a place here, I and my daughters have spent countless hours both online through realty sites, on craigslist, walking on foot to write down numbers of rental properties that were listed on windows and asking everyone we could find from neighbors to store owners about properties for rent. Many calls yielded nothing because landlords do not want to rent to people with section 8 vouchers with many of them saying so, many others simply not calling back and even large apartment complexes stating that they do not accept the vouchers at all.
My adaptive living tools were lost and my laptop compromised during the hurricane -
During the hurricane, a number of my tools that help me know where I am and who I am, that help me function and to remember the exercises and tools to maintain my function, as well as my laptop computer that I use to help accommodate my disabilities, were damaged or misplaced. Because of this, I pursued some help from FEMA and the SBA without any result except to have wasted the time and extraordinary efforts that it took to go over to the SBA and get help filling out their papers to request it and to go twice to the disaster recovery center to get help requesting the FEMA help.
Neither one offered anything to help me put the things damaged during the hurricane back into place. I did take my computer and get it fixed which cost me $160 dollars in cash, and eventually I was able to replace a few of the tools I had brought with me that were either thrown away by somebody, moved or destroyed during the storm. I use mnemonics, adaptive living tools, exercises from cognitive therapies and other tools from occupational therapy applications to help make up the difference that both my brain injury and my psychological deficiencies continue to cause.
I have a number of exercises and tools that can help me only if I remember them including how to form words correctly, who I am, where I am, what to do when I’m getting stressed, exercises for walking and for having both sides of my body and both hands available rather than just one – difficulties that I can accommodate through the use of techniques and exercises that I’ve used for many years, if I know to do them. The mnemonics and other tools I use help me to remember how to do them and to use them when I need to do that.
In preparing to move to New York, I did these things like preparing a circle of support and bringing a number of my adaptive living tools and mnemonics with me to insure that my function would not suffer immeasurably so that my success in making the move despite my disabilities would have the best chance of sustaining my functional abilities and being done successfully overall. I can and do operate daily as a very high functioning fairly normal person if I use my tools and adaptive living practices. Without them, my function and my abilities to deal with stress depreciate to the point that I become the problem rather than part of any solution or asset for my community.
The section 8 voucher program transfer process is intended to support a level playing field for me -
The transfer process with the section 8 voucher system is supporting to my success but not in the way it was used in my case. There are actually grant funds available through the section 8 housing choice voucher program that could have helped me to financially make the move, but those were not made available to me and as a result I had to sell for nearly nothing almost everything I owned because I could not pay the $1100 for movers to come pick up the boxes of my belongings and move them to New York.
That, and giving away those things that would not sell for a dollar – yielded one small storage unit of things which I’m having to pay about $70 a month to cover and took away from me every single thing I had built over a number of years such that I could at some point support myself, including my large easel, drafting table, computer, art materials, business materials, books, learning materials for sales, business, marketing and design, along with nearly all of my personal items that had taken many years to acquire from kitchen equipment to furniture.
There was really no excuse for this, since the Marietta Housing Authority certainly knows of my disabilities specifically as well as my economic reality which is far below the poverty level and without funds appropriate to moving even down the street, let alone across the country to another state. In fact, the discounted ticket for a plane ride here took all of the money I had been able to get from selling everything I owned.
On October 9, when I came to New York – I didn’t even have the money to bring an extra bag at the $60 dollars charged for it so that I could bring an extra coat and boots that I had bought at the thrift store the week before I left – those still sit in my parents’ garage room with my encyclopedias and old music keyboards that I have not been able to afford to bring here either despite needing all of those desperately to remind me of who I am, to nourish me, to push away both the cold and the stress of the situation and to help me to do the next things in front of me to do. Originally, I would have simply come here and rented the apartment where my daughter lived, but after she was not prepared to leave – finding an entirely different place that would work became nothing short of a nightmare even if I had had everything going for me, which I didn’t.
After the Midland Beach apartment was flooded by the hurricane – turned back to try and get Kasha’s apartment -
Then, on top of those things that were the direct result of the hurricane and trying to be of some help in the community immediately thereafter, approaching SBA and FEMA for help that was not forthcoming and trying to run down a lab in the New York City area for adaptive living tools and independent living resources so that I could construct a new set of tools to help myself and to have a new set of people for a circle of support – I looked at several other apartments which were inappropriate – one of which was below ground level and near the water within sight of the Verrazano bridge and called a huge number of listings on craigslist to no avail.
After the hurricane, aside from rents going up in anticipation of people needing them that had been affected by the storm surge and hurricane damages, there were even fewer landlords willing to call back or to even consider having the section 8 voucher as their rent because they would have to wait two months to get any money for their apartment as well as the quarter inch of paperwork that has to be filled out for it and dealing with the inspections delaying the process.
Despite having both of my daughters and me working on it, covering literally thousands of craigslist and realtor ads that we covered as well as countless phone calls to landlords and realtors, we had not found any apartments that would actually have worked by Thanksgiving of last year. It made the most sense at that point to go back to the original plan which had been arranged ahead of time, to get Kasha’s apartment for me with the section 8 voucher where I know the area and neighbors know me and I know them, with her moving to an apartment in the Bronx or Brooklyn where her commute time to work would no longer be the two hours she is forced to spend doing it from Staten Island.
So, we had the landlord for this apartment in Staten Island (in Rosebank) fill out the paperwork for us, add his deed and certificate of occupancy and tax forms, then prepared to turn those in as soon as the holiday passed – which meant that I had to get an appointment over the phone for bringing in that paperwork plus meet to get it all at the same time. Because they didn’t have an appointment slot available in the time before December 3 when the voucher would expire, they gave me that day as a last resort to be fit in – between other people’s appointments. I had no way to know that it would take some day in the first or second week of November to actually have made a viable appointment with them to turn in the papers on the couple days at the end of the month after Thanksgiving. Regardless, the appointment was made for December 3, my part of the papers were not filled out because I actually did need their help with doing it, and the papers from the landlord for my daughter’s apartment to be rented with my voucher were filled out and in my hands, and I took them to Brooklyn to NYCHA on December 3.
NYCHA Brooklyn did not have anyone to help me fill out my papers and refused to take them Dec. 3 –
There was no one to help me fill out my part of the papers at NYCHA despite the fact that I explained my disability, my need for their help and expressed how my disability specifically made it extremely difficult for me to understand the papers or to fill them out. They said to do as good as I could and only fill out a few of those parts they marked with a highlighter so I did – I have no way of knowing if I answered any of the questions properly or put in the correct information where it belongs.
There is a two hour ride to go to NYCHA in Brooklyn from where my daughter lives which takes a walk, a bus, the ferry and then a train and another walk to get there – it was not possible for my daughter or anyone else to go with me to the appointment but I had been assured that someone would be there to help me fill out the papers and there was not. So, not only have I been spending transportation costs of going to these continued requirements to see places that I might rent but to go to the Brooklyn NYCHA office on more than a few occasions – none of which has been helped with funding from section 8 or the housing authority in any way, although everything in the policy guidelines and program information says that those things could have and should have been given some financial help to me to do them.
The appointment on December 3 was the one where I called my mom and dad to ask them if they could run over the Marietta Housing Authority, write a letter requesting an extension and hand it to them in person. They did that and in fact, that extension was made for 30 days through the Christmas holiday season after a hurricane damage and during a time when it is the most difficult to get anyone on the phone or in person simply because of the holidays even in the best of situations.
The reason that an extension was needed as I was standing at the December 3, voucher expiration date and date of my appointment with NYCHA to turn in the landlord packet for the voucher, was because when the landlord’s papers were turned in to them, the worker explained that the Department of Buildings does not list this particular apartment as an apartment although it is and has actually been inspected by the city for another subsidized housing program. It is listed as a commercial suite in the building which has two apartments listed in each of the two floors above Kasha’s apartment and then one on the back side of the first floor, which is a two-bedroom small apartment being rented for $1200 a month to another family (and which was to be available as of February 1 – that we turned in as the apartment I wanted to rent when the January extension deadline was met with my paperwork – it was still refused by the NYCHA workers.)
NYCHA required me to find another apartment and refused my request to use the voucher on this one in Staten Island that actually is appropriate to my needs –
So, the NYCHA office sent me away to find another apartment on December 3rd, having refused to allow the section 8 voucher to be used to rent the one and only one apartment in New York City for which I was prepared, that is appropriate to my needs, where the landlord is willing to accept the section 8 voucher for it, that is affordable and is the most likely for me to successfully move into and still know my own name three months into living here by myself.
But no – this apartment can’t be the one where I live according to the NYCHA workers (likely intake workers and not decision makers although they are the ones deciding it). I know the walls here, where the doors are to go outside, how to use the kitchen here, how to get places from here, who the neighbors are here and what to find in the local area where I can get groceries and buses and where the drugstores are located.
But, no – this one specific place – this one specific apartment I can’t have, according to the NYCHA workers unless it is approved in some other way – by some process I don’t know and don’t understand because literally, it would be a reasonable accommodation for me to be successful in living independently here (and in having moved here making the massive transition that is for me.)
Reasonable accommodation for my disabilities is for me to use this environment in this particular apartment as my home base to live, to have my business and studio and to move outwards and learn the city from here. But, no – and the NYCHA required me to take another landlord packet and go find some other place to live.
Other realtors and landlords who ran us around in circles -
There was one landlord that wanted to find me a place in Far Rockaway, Queens – one landlord whose apartment would have surely flooded at the least excuse for a rain and there was evidence of it being a regular occurrence and then one night I found a two bedroom second floor apartment listed on Bay Street about half-way between here in Rosebank where Kasha lives and the ferry, but on Bay Street where I had at the very least walked and know some of the resources nearby like the buses that are there – and the area would have at least had some familiarity in my mind because I had walked down Bay Street a number of times to go to the ferry.
So, we pursued that apartment in December locating the landlord a few days before Christmas and then making two different trips over to it to meet with the landlord and see the apartment. On the second trip, my daughter Kasha went with me and I gave the paperwork to the owner who agreed to accept the section 8 and to fill out the paperwork provided that I give him $2400 in cash and then get some help to cover the rest of the deposits with a one-shot deal from the local agencies that offer them. The total to move in would have been around $3600 without counting any of the deposits required for electricity, gas and other necessary things like cellphone and internet (which are not a nicety in my life, but literally required for me to be successful and safe with the disability set that I have.)
Have been paying to stay here while looking for an apartment -
During the time that I have lived with my daughter on her couch, I have been paying her $200 a month plus buying some food sometimes or buying the various things required such as toilet paper and bus fares and the costs of washing clothes as well as providing full time child care for her daughter and for my other daughter’s child – my two grandchildren, so that their mothers can work. That made up the difference for the cost of me being here – it has not been for free.
The child care has taken a lot of my time and when I have had to be at appointments with landlords and realtors or gone to look at apartments and go to appointments at NYCHA and with the portability office and to get my records from the SSI office – my daughter had to take off work to cover her own child care at a cost of her day’s pay each time she has done it. Each day she has taken off to go with me has cost her day’s pay as well as did the two times that she did go with me to the NYCHA office because they do not have help for me to use their processes. On one of those occasions, we literally weren’t called to see the worker for five hours despite having an 11 am appointment to meet with them. My daughter and two-year old granddaughter were with me for that day and not only did it cost her day’s pay, it also cost all of us getting the flu which has remained with us thereafter to fight for our very health every day since.
The beautiful remodeled two bedroom apartment on a second floor – Bay Street, Staten Island – right on a bus route – found the week before Christmas and dealt with throughout the holidays –
The apartment on Bay Street had the papers for the section 8 for them to fill out from three days before Christmas on the second visit to the apartment to meet with them. They were supposed to fill them out and return them to me on the day after Christmas but by the weekend, they had not returned our calls – from both me and from my daughter, Kasha.
The owner said his partner was out of town and he speaks Russian fluently, so it is possible that he was not able to fill out the paperwork. The night before January 3rd, in fact – the partner insisted on coming to Kasha’s apartment late in the evening to fill out the papers and give them to me. Not one paper was filled in with anything when he arrived and he had forgotten his glasses on top of everything. He and I got a magnifying glass and together worked to fill in several of the papers but he didn’t have any of the other things required including the deed, the tax forms, and the certificate of occupancy for the Bay Street building.
He and I filled out what we could at the first opportunity that he would on the night of January 2, then he took the rest of the papers with the promise that he would fill them in and return them to me or meet me at the NYCHA office to turn them in. I had made an appointment for turning in the papers to NYCHA – trying to get an appointment for January 3rd to have enough time after the New Year’s holiday to get the papers from the landlords, but the appointment office made it for January 2nd, because there were no other appointments available. On January 2nd, I had to change the appointment at the last minute, canceling the one to make another for the 3rd because the partner with the landlord packet wouldn’t come to give them to me until that night as I described above.
My daughter Kasha and I asked two different sources to borrow the money that these landlords wanted from us to secure the place for me to rent it. Both sources were family members and because of the holidays, neither of them had the money nor the willingness to help me get the apartment. We looked at possibly renting it together, getting a loan against my daughter’s tax return to get the money to give them or selling my business assets someway online to give them the $2400 they were demanding. None of it worked. We considered that both of us living in the Bay Street apartment would be a reasonable accommodation to an entirely different location than anything I was familiar with using – not only is it up a very steep set of stairs, it has groceries that are far from it and other differences that I would have had trouble using there – from an unfamiliar kitchen, second floor windows, an unusual layout of rooms, an interior balcony to the stairs by its front door and an area surrounding it that I had never used beyond walking by it on Bay Street. We would have tried to request that accommodation if we could have found the funds to get it and if the owners had ever filled out the paperwork for us to take to NYCHA for it, which they didn’t.
January 3rd appointment to turn in the papers to NYCHA for the section 8 voucher –
On the 3rd, I took the papers he did fill out to the NYCHA office with my daughter, Kasha and my granddaughter and turned them in those papers after waiting for over five hours at the NYCHA office and having been on a two hour ride before that to get there – only for them to say that they couldn’t accept any of it without all of the papers though I do know that I was put into the computer as having been there at the appointment.
The worker told me to get the remaining paperwork and return it to them on Monday following (that was on Thursday, January 3rd) and insisted that I didn’t need an appointment to turn them in – just to bring them and get a number from the front desk to turn them in which I did. And, my mother on learning that they wouldn’t accept the landlord packet nor my portion of the packet on that day, made out another letter requesting an extension as a reasonable accommodation under these extreme circumstances and physically carried it over to the Marietta Housing Authority office to turn it in within the required time allowed that very day.
NYCHA receptionist refused to let me turn in the papers on the Monday that the intake worker had told me to come and turn them in – immediately after the Jan. 3 appointment -
On Monday, when I carried the papers back to the NYCHA office in Brooklyn, I had the flu and had been throwing up all morning but went anyway and tried to turn in the papers. The desk lady said that I could not see anyone and without an appointment she wouldn’t let me give the papers to them nor would she give me a number to wait and see anyone nor did she get the worker on the phone who had told me to come back and give the papers to them without an appointment.
I had left the building and called my daughter to get the name of the person who had told us to bring the papers back and then went back in to ask the desk lady to get him on the phone and after a very half-hearted attempt she said she couldn’t get anyone on his line and that I would have to go home, make an appointment and then return with the paperwork at that time – there was nothing else that she could do.
Tried to get in contact with you to explain the situation to the Marietta Housing Authority to accommodate my needs –
During that time, we had placed calls to you, including calls from me, from my mother and from my daughter to try and explain to you what had happened, but you refused to return any of our calls. We did notice that you had added a message on your phone answering machine that calls made more than once would not be returned, which seems excessively unfair under the circumstances since it is you and only you who can deal with these matters in a timely manner. But, you did not call back and until the middle of last week, I had not heard from you at all about the second request for an extension of the voucher or what might be done from there to remedy this situation.
Made the first appointment possible over the phone for January 14, to turn in the papers again –
When I returned home from the NYCHA Brooklyn office on that Monday, I made an appointment immediately the next day, because it was after five when I got home from the trip back. I have been sick ever since that Thursday when we spent over five hours waiting at the NYCHA office on January 3rd, as was my daughter and granddaughter sickened from the flu thereafter as well. However, I did make the appointment they required and although it was a time crunch which I explained to the lady over the phone at NYCHA where they make the appointments, Debbie – the soonest she would give me an appointment to turn in the landlord packet was on January 14.
Discovered another apartment in my daughter’s building would be available on February 1 –
Before the appointment date came, the landlord for Kasha’s apartment told us that the apartment behind her on the first floor of the same building which shares a wall with her “kitchen” – would be available as of February 1 because the lady was going to move out and that he would be happy for me to rent it with my section 8 voucher.
It is a two bedroom apartment and is actually specified as a residential apartment on the Department of Buildings documents. He would accept me using the 0 bedroom voucher for a two bedroom apartment, wait the two months to get his money that ends up being the case with section 8 here, and would accept the one shot deal package for the deposits which in fact, give the landlords only a voucher for the last month’s rent rather than a check they can cash. I would know the area although I would have had to learn that apartment specifically – but it is small and I have been inside a few times because I have made good friends with the lady who is moving from there.
The door for it is only a few feet away from my daughter’s side door to her apartment which would mean that watching my grandchildren for them would have still been practical and the area is obviously the one I know since it is literally only a few feet away from the same street which I’ve already mapped. The apartment costs $1200 a month which is well within what the voucher will pay and although it is small – the location and the fact that I know the area as well as the landlord being willing to work with me are all very positives in the use of it for my living space.
The paperwork for the other apartment for which I had all of that paperwork filled out and in my hand to turn in to them – was refused on January 14 at the appointment given to me to do it –
But, the paperwork for it that I turned in on January 14 when my daughter Kasha took another day off to go with me and give it to NYCHA – was refused. First the worker said that I didn’t have proof of my SSI income, although they have taken that piece of paper of three different occasions. Then he said that the owners name was filled in as the payee rather than his company name which made it illegal to pay him for the apartment.
Then he said that the apartment was the same one as we had tried to use the section 8 voucher for in the first place which is considered a commercial space rather than residential and would not hear Kasha when she explained on the Department of Buildings document which apartment it actually is – and then, he said that I don’t actually have an extension and that since there was no proof of that extension on my voucher, that they couldn’t take the paperwork anyway nor give me any other landlord packet to get any other place to rent with the voucher.
This situation was made more difficult by not being told to be here in New York by August 18 and made even more impossible by denying a sixty day extension to me through February 3 –
We tried our best to work with the difficulties of the situation that I have been given – but from the very beginning, I was cheated out of time that should have been available to be used for doing it successfully – from the point at which I was not told that I was to be in New York within ten days of their receipt of the transfer and fax back to you of that requirement being put on me to pick up the voucher, attend the orientation and begin my search for a place.
Having been forced by the information I both did and did not receive from your office – to show up in New York no sooner than October – meant that I was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, by my own difficulties with the loss of my tools, and by the extreme limitations inherent in holiday seasons when landlords are both out of town and disinclined to do business over quite a number of the days within those periods.
The fact is, I worked around all of these limitations – and did an extraordinary job to even be here today and still know my name and have both feet walking my steps rather than just one foot walking and the other dragging which can very well happen under extreme stress and certainly does happen when I haven’t done my exercises or used the tools which tell me how to do those exercises. The extra stress that your office has caused me in this is unreasonable and inappropriate given the circumstances. There were funds and resources available to me that neither did anyone from your office make available to me, but neither did request for me to be available from the New York housing authority offices as they should have been.
There were financial resources that should have been made available to me that were denied to me that would have made it possible to bring my things with me rather than to have sold them off in a fire sale because I couldn’t afford to bring them and there is actually money available through your office to pay for the deposits that were required of me here to rent anything. There were also other resources available that would have been required to be requested from you and from your office which were refused to me including an extension of time in which to find a place that genuinely gave me time to find a place under these extraordinary circumstances – as well as help in finding a place from the resources here that you could’ve requested for me but did not.
The very apartment where I preplanned to live and could live independently and successfully could have been made available to me and certainly the one in the same building with the same landlord that fits the needs I have for a reasonable accommodation – but neither you nor your supervisors decided that I could be allowed the extra time involved in pursuing that and none of you certainly requested that the NYCHA office make any such accommodations to me as you should have done.
The situation now – and the things at risk for me now as a result of your office denying my section 8 voucher to be used –
Now, not only am I at risk of having nowhere to live since you have denied my access to the section 8 voucher which I have a right to use for my housing here, you have chosen to not tell me how to appeal your decision and you have risked my only income which is a SSI check – because I do not have an address where I can move it legally.
There are numerous incredible and unreasonable costs that I have incurred as a direct result of your mishandling my opportunity to transfer my voucher successfully to New York – specifically to Staten Island where I know more about the environment – including the loss of very nearly every single item I have owned over the last fifteen years – the dissolution of my business assets which were intended to allow me to not only live independently but to generate my own income to underwrite the economic needs of my remaining days in this world – and because of the undue stress you have added to my situation – I am at risk of not being able to continue my adult life as a disabled person in an independent lifestyle which I have worked diligently and intently over many, many years to accomplish successfully.
It is unreasonable that you would put me at risk of spending the remainder of my life institutionalized with a nervous breakdown over losing my section 8 voucher and having no place to live. It is unreasonable that you would put me at risk of having no SSI check nor any other means of income either as a direct result of losses I incurred at your hands in mismanaging my opportunity to move successfully. It is unreasonable that you would make any choice now denying me a reasonable extension of time under the circumstances in which to secure a place to live that will work for me to live successfully and independently in the community here as an asset rather than as a detriment to it. I would much rather be a part of a multitude of solutions within my community rather than the source of problems requiring someone else to handle – whether from my mental illness quirks or from my head injury disabilities.
And, I have lived successfully independently in my community as an asset for a number of years now with the efforts I’ve made to have a business that works for me to sustain myself financially well under way over a long period of time – it is unfair for you to take all of these things away from me rather than for you to have helped level the playing field for me as the ADA requires of you. It is unreasonable and unacceptable for you to deny my voucher extension and to have taken that voucher away from me as a result. It must be corrected.
Diane C Phillips
97 St. Mary’s Ave, Apt. 1
Staten Island, New York 10305
I also have a number of bills that I was unable to pay in Georgia as a direct result of your office not allowing me to have a grant of money for me to use for moving myself and my belongings and my business assets to New York City. Since I had to use my own funds from my SSI check to cover getting here, being here, renting my daughter’s couch, paying for storage and for getting around the city to all these appointments required of me, there are four bills outstanding that I could not pay and there were three websites that I built for my business which I also had to let go and not continue paying for them to be online.
There is really no excuse for all of this – since even I can read the section 8 housing voucher guidelines from HUD as well as the Congressional intentions for the program’s use for people with disabilities like me – and including for me with the disabilities I have – and at every turn, you and your office have denied these things to me. You could not begin to understand how negatively you have intentionally impacted my life with your choices. And, I do know it is not from neglect but from intention that you and your supervisors made those decisions concerning my voucher and my opportunities. It was wrong and very likely illegal as well since your decisions concerning me and my voucher fly in the face of every intention outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act and other HUD Section 8 information.
By the way, I do have spinal column injury and because of being required to sit for over five hours at the NYCHA office on January 3rd with my daughter and granddaughter – my back went out of place for a horrendous and painful week-long nightmare at the same time I was enduring the flu that resulted from that visit to NYCHA as well. Maybe the flu would have happened either way, but my back would not have been out that meant I could not provide child care or housekeeping or do much of anything else for that full week as well as it making the flu more difficult to fight.
Note – That during the time from August 3, when I requested the portability and notified my landlord in Georgia of my sixty days notice – she called and came by nearly every day to demand to know when I would have all my things out – for the first three weeks she did come over and spent several hours on a number of days to convince me to stay for one more year and then when it was clear that I was not going to do that, she would call sometimes several times a day repeating a single sentence over and over again expressing her demand to know exactly when all of my belongings would be removed and every single thing cleaned as if I were a professional cleaning crew to make it “move-in ready” according to her. That put unnecessary stress on an otherwise stressful situation – she even came over when my parents were there, called them as well and called me a number of times while other people were at my apartment helping me to sell, pack and dispose of my property so I could get it all done.
Your letter denying me an extension was dated January 15 – and I received it last week one day. There is nothing in it to describe how I might appeal your decision or have it changed since very obviously it is both unreasonable under the circumstances and unacceptable.
End of that letter – Further –
Although this document describes Massachusetts – it is actually a good description of the what the section 8 program does offer to people with my disabilities in order to make sure they can transfer the voucher and find a place to live successfully – apparently the state of Georgia and Marietta / Cobb County in particular does it their own way instead – these guidelines discussed on this page reflect the section 8 program policy set by Washington and its focus is, as theirs in Washington is – to help a person with disabilities to find a place rather than to do everything possible to exclude them from the program as Georgia has done concerning my voucher transfer –
On this pdf document from Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Policy – through HUD in Washington – on page 8-12, it clearly defines that an extension could’ve been made through February 1st under the circumstances described above – and the worker, Ms. Sinclair not only denied me that but excluded me from the voucher being available to me any longer as a direct result of that with no recourse whatsoever. The letter she sent me to deny the further extension – literally said nothing about any way in which I could appeal or challenge or change her personal decision to deny my reasonable request for a little more time, even though I told her on her phone answering machine that I only needed a little more time to get the apartment behind my daughter’s where I had tried to turn in the paper’s for it and they said my voucher did not have an extension for it. In fact, she never did send anything to me about the extension that she said had been made from Dec 3, to Jan. 3 – right in the middle of the holidays, and during a time that it was more difficult to find apartments to take the section 8 voucher because of people getting them after the hurricane damaged their homes on the island and elsewhere in New York. She refused me a further extension – despite the things written above that had happened and despite the fact that she knew that and knows of my several disabilities which would overall make the efforts much harder anyway.
This is the link to the overall contents of the Section 8 program guidelines –
This page describes the advocacy programs in New York that are available – so far, these would not help me because the agency making the choice for me and where it concerns me – is in Georgia rather than in New York. Today, I am neither a resident here nor there and that continues to be a problem when talking to any lawyers that might be of any help – though most of them are concerned with discrimination against disabilities where it involves employment or civil rights where it concerns the police rather than anything like this.
What I think after having this experience with Georgia’s programs – and over the years, I’ve suffered a lot at their hands – is that I cannot see how any of it would ever work for anyone to successfully live independently in the community with disabilities nor to ever transfer their section 8 voucher successfully from one state to another and I can’t understand how so much money can be spent, donated to and given for people like me with the disabilities I have without any of it actually ever doing anything that helps make a more level playing field for anyone with any disability, but especially those with head injury, stroke, mental difficulties, autism (which I don’t have but know of their many difficulties that are much like mine), and any of a multitude of other disabilities that make things more difficult.
Our programs seem designed to pay for employers and businesses to make reasonable accommodations that will essentially foot their bill for doing so, but in any other ways – and on this side of it as a person with disabilities – there is no intent to help do any of the things the agencies, charities, and foundations claim they intend to do to help people including me. That seems unreasonable on the most extreme face of abuse and further victimizing those who least deserve any more of such abuses from anybody – and that definitely includes me. I dealt with more than most people have to in situations that have been abusive and violent and traumatic and stressful in my life – I certainly and most definitely do not deserve any more of it from agencies, groups, associations, organizations, resources, communities, foundations and even charities that are receiving moneys and resources intended to help me and be available to people like me (including me.)
Enough is enough.
It looks as if it is the goal of every agency in Georgia to exclude as many people as possible particularly those with disabilities that the programs were designed to serve and to make it as difficult as possible for those who would need the programs to know about them, access them, apply for them, use them or to have anything of even the least small crumb from those programs – and that includes the charity and foundation based programs whose money was donated to them for their stated intentions of helping people with various disabilities. But, that isn’t restricted to the state of Georgia for that matter, it seems to be a national phenomenon regardless of the state and I have found much of that in New York City as well. Their only goal is for their charitable work to be paid for (despite donations having been made to them tax free to do these things) – using a Medicaid waiver with its fifteen miles of paperwork, requirements and appointments for approval. Unbelievable.
From independent living resources through universities and charitable foundations that offer technology assisted possibilities for independent living which no person with a disability actually gets to use (without a Medicaid voucher or state vocational rehab agency payment for it – and sometimes, not even then unless they approve the use of that for the specific individual) – to huge data bases that are collecting every kind of information to help people with disabilities from where to buy bras that open in front to assistive technology and innovations like having a stove that tells someone when it is on or not – which also are not available to actual people with disabilities who might be more likely to live successfully if they had access to such things – all of it is taking money for the express purpose of making those things available to people with disabilities but they aren’t.
The system in fact, as it stands over the last twenty-five years, has actually served only those who would work in those jobs as social workers, data collectors, university research centers and medical center rehab facilities, and other employment involved in tracking every person with a disability while doing nothing for them to enhance their lives nor make their daily lives more possible and functional. Those funds are going at $1,000 a plate dinners to offer hope and resources where none are being made available except to serve the financial needs of those employed there, few if any of which have disabilities themselves. What right to harvest those funds for their incomes do they have while doing everything in their power as part of their job description, to deny and exclude anyone and everyone with a disability from having any access to any of those resources? It is an abomination of our time.
If I had ever had even a tenth of those financial resources that were donated, appropriated and made available in my name because of my disabilities – I would never have been in need of a social net to provide for my financial sustenance, food and shelter. My children would have not been raised by the state in foster care, and I would never have been without a place to call my own, a place to call home and the ability to fund its needs. But, no – the every other single individual paid by the state and by agencies and by charities to help me that didn’t – was funded instead. Their lifestyles were funded, their homes were able to be purchased, their children’s needs were covered and in the name of me and my disabilities – each of them were well funded and their every need provided for in their lives and their children’s lives. It is obscene from voc rehab to mental health systems to section 8 to brain injury trust funds to foundations to charities based upon serving my needs and those of people like me with my particular disabilities. As I said in my post before this one – they have managed to waste $350,000 a year tracking me and my disability without ever doing one thing to help me manage myself and my life and my skill sets successfully and have a functional life independently in my community. And, they could have but they were too busy ensuring their own living and their own lifestyles being derived from those funds to help me or anyone else with any more than the tiniest of crumbs received after monumental degrees of requirements and paperwork and appointments in person and documents and further tests and further documents and further appointments to show up for and repeated filling out of further paperwork with the same information over and over and over have been satisfied and done properly. Obviously, if for no other reason – these processes describe how intent these state agencies and foundations and trusts and charities are intent on excluding those with disabilities from ever successfully completing the processes required to get anything from them at all, even the least crumbs from their tables despite those trillions upon trillions of dollars actually being available for no other reason than those people with disabilities they are designated to serve. It is repulsive even on the face of it.
I relearned to write, to read, to speak, to use the computer, to do a multitude of other things – not because these organizations helped me to do so – but because I found ways to do them. I could not fill out those papers. I could not have run across town on four hours worth of buses to get to their appointments and after having done that on a multitude of occasions simply to be turned away or to be required to do fifty more things to get any of it – I had to find other ways. And, I would guess that is the intent of the Republicans who have run most of these things in my lifetime. I know that is the case for many of them – to not help at all believing that the person will then help themselves or die – either way keeping the people with disabilities out of their way and keeping people with disabilities from getting jobs that would otherwise go to the “whole people” that they know. That is how I feel about it – that is how it looks to me and that is how it has looked year after year as, although I have found ways to help myself and people have helped me to learn what voc rehab would not – including using the computer – many people that I know who have similar sets of disabilities simply did not make it, nor did they find ways to help themselves go beyond those disabilities. And, many of them are dead or in prisons and jails, or living the remainder of their lives in chemically lobotomized vegetative states in mental hospitals – many have endured violent and horrendous living situations whether in bad marriages, bad roommate situations or in bad family situations where living is hell – rather than ever having found any way to live independently and successfully in the community where they are not being victimized constantly. In fact, I have known so many people over the years with similar disabilities that couldn’t get any help from the government agencies or go through all the paperwork and requirements for the charitable, community-based resources, and government resources who did not make it as a result that I would say, my finding other ways to do things to help myself is probably not the normal or usual outcome. And, I feel bad for them because I know what they have endured and I know what they had to go through to even try to get help, just to be either turned away and excluded or sent to jump through so many hoops that it simply couldn’t be done. In fact, by the time any of these things might eventually help – it can be two or three years away from wherever anyone stands in today where life requires shelter, food, opportunities, financial resources, heat, light, telephones, adaptive tools, and any number of other things right now in order to live.
That is the most unreasonable of all – aside from people administrating these programs and resources excluding everyone who needs them and has a right to them – somewhere between the top where the resources and funds were made available and the people like me that come in the door – which is vastly unreasonable and unfair – but most unreasonable of all, is that the only things these funds and resources are doing is to serve the needs of those without disabilities who are actually administering the programs and excluding those they were intended to help.