The Faces of Homelessness

Friends, I know this is a time when everyone is worried about what’s coming next. Everything feels extreme and after almost a year homeless, this is, even more, the case for us.

For those of you who don’t know the full story Anthony and I have been homeless since last summer. We’ve existed on minimal food and water, on and off housing, and sometimes sleeping on the street. Anthony has experienced major, life-threatening, medical issues which require that we stay where we are near the hospital, dialysis treatment clinic, and public transportation, while figuring out how to pay for medication he can’t live without. We’re hoping this is coming to an end soon, now that Social Security has come through and (we hope) the VA help will soon begin.

Please, if you can, help us as we push through the next few months. We can’t afford to live on the streets or further jeopardize his health when there’s a pandemic going on: and we’ve done everything we possibly can. I’m hoping this is a stop-gap request and that soon we will be at the end of what has been an arduous journey. Thank you for anything you can do, and for all the shares, emails, and support you have all sent our way during this ordeal.

For those of you who would like to know the details, here’s the nitty-gritty of our last year:

● Anthony had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic used to treat chest congestion. This put him in the ICU for 5 days and exacerbated hypertension, congestive heart issues, bronchitis, and signs were pointing toward preliminary kidney failure.
● For 6 months we were fighting with the short term disability provider through his employer to get the insurance and cover our expenses, with no results
● After exhausting all of our financial resources, in May 2019 we were evicted and out on the streets.
● At that point, we relied on what little savings and help from friends to stay in a long-term motel. Expensive but the only option beside sleeping on the streets

From there, we did what any reasonable person would think to do. We contacted agencies, churches, social services, welfare, and yes, the VA. But across the board, we did not meet the criteria for assistance. We aren’t over 65. We have no children under 18. Even the VA had an ever-shifting list of steps we needed to complete in order to get help.

In June of 2019, we were living on the streets and Anthony was admitted to the ICU. Blood pressure was at stroke level, he was dehydrated, blood levels were all screwy and all indications were that his kidneys had FAILED. The prognosis was critical Thirteen days in the hospital and I was discharged, and we were back to living on the street with a catheter for dialysis treatments leading to his aorta.

Due to medical issues and risk of infection, the shelters we qualified to use refused to house me, citing infection concerns. With help from the social services at the hospital, the application for Social Security was started, while gathering information and also starting a preliminary application with the VA. But the two programs are in conflict about who was responsible for providing the assistance. Despite his 15 years of service in the Army, we have, as of yet, been unable to get any solid answers or help from the VA.

Now Anthony must:
● Receive dialysis 3 times a week
● Travel to and from the dialysis clinic and to other appointments
● Maintain a medication regime – and afford medications
● Comply with strict dietary restrictions – and afford food
● Consume water which contains the right minerals and electrolytes for his kidneys – this means paying for water
● Travel to and from the VA as they only handle requests in person, with an appointment
● Follow-up with vascular and nephrology as required because of treatment for and the functioning (less than 5%) of my kidneys.

This has been going on for 11 months. And we’re still pushing forward. In November, Social Security approved a $500 emergency stipend that continued through January. That ended and in February we received a Social Security Disability payment of $1100 a month, which is not nearly enough for two people to live on, especially with his medical issues in the Metro Atlanta area. We are still waiting for the VA to complete its process and Gaele is working (freelance editing) when there is work to take on.

After nearly a year of fighting with every agency, getting turned away by most of them, and now dealing with all of the changes from the Covid-19 we’ve hit the proverbial wall and need your help. We are hoping to maintain this room in a long-stay motel: at $320 a week (the cheapest rate in this area) but we are finding a shortage of funds before the end of every month. With travel to and from dialysis, medication, food and water, we’re reliant on help to get through the final 10 – 15 days of the month, every month.

All we ask is that you share our Go Fund Me page if you would, we appreciate all the help we can get!

 

If you’d like to support us – Please use this Go Fund Me

 

You can also see our entire story on Facebook Stories

Thank you for considering us and for reading this entire saga.

We hope you are all safe and healthy,
Anthony and Gaele

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