General Question

SeattleSysAdmin's avatar

What do you do when you are about to be homeless?

Asked by SeattleSysAdmin (112points) January 14th, 2015
46 responses
“Great Question” (11points)

I have found myself in a bit of a situation where I am about to be homeless. After fourteen years of being professionally employed as a Sys Admin, I was laid off from Microsoft in July of last year. Despite my sincerest efforts to secure a new job, I am striking out left and right.

I am now out of food and out of money. My cell phone is about to be shut off and my internet is shortly behind that. My car is about to be reposed and finally I have received my eviction notice. Without those things getting a new job so I can recover will be difficult.

My family can’t help me anymore than they already have.
The state won’t help me. I am being declined access to TANF and SNAP. I am being fought on my unemployment (I have never been unemployed before but I hear this is quite a common thing).

So I am looking for tips on what to do specifically from anyone who has been here or anyone who may just have any idea.

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Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I’m sorry to hear you are in this situation. Must be very scary. There are a few people here who have been homeless, hopefully they see the Q.

Can you stay with a friend while you try to find a job? Have you been willing to work at lesser paying jobs during your job search? If not I suggest you do it now.

It’s been 6 months since your lay off and your unemployment isn’t sorted out yet?

jca's avatar

You don’t say why your unemployment is being denied. You should get it if you were laid off. You can appeal any decision and should follow the appeals process.

Same with public assistance (SNAP, TANF, etc.). You should follow the appeals process, as there is one. You don’t specify why you were denied these benefits.

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (6points)
trailsillustrated's avatar

You don’t say why you were denied but If you appeal the unemployment part you will get it. In the short term, here’s what I did in the same part of the country you are: put an ad on Cl saying you will keep house, mind pets, stuff like that for a room or place to sleep. Run another ad on there for house cleaning, pet walking, sitting, etc. you’d be surprised how many people will help you. Sure there’s pervs out there but you can suss them out. Go buy a 9$ burner phone and use the library Internet. I can tell you how to eat if you want, pm me for that. This is if you’re in a real sticky situation. Best of luck, I lost all that you are looking at losing and more, please don’t lose heart.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Appeal on the unemployment to the Dept of Labor. They almost always side with the worker, not the employer, even when the employee was let go with cause.

marinelife's avatar

If I was getting evicted, I would keep my car and move it around so it can’t be repossessed. Then you will at least have a place to store stuff. @trailsillustrated‘s advice is all good. I bought a $15 cell phone at Radio Shack and use a call plan from Virgin Mobile that costs $22 a quarter. There are places that you can take a shower.

rojo's avatar

Storage lockers are a relatively inexpensive place to store things that you may want to try to hang onto. Of course the corner of a friends garage would be even better.

Cruiser's avatar

Have you visited the Seattle Homeless Shelters & Services For The Needy and the Emergency Human Services Dept websites? Looks like a lot of helpful information and assistance is available.

SeattleSysAdmin's avatar

Sorry I should have clarified, I had just been living off of my savings and only recently applied for unemployment. I haven’t been officially denied yet, but I am being fought.

Being being TANF because “I don’t have a disability” and SNAP because “I don’t have an income source” (Duh! I don’t have a job)

@Cruiser I will look into those links you provided

Thanks everyone else for the encouragement.

Here2_4's avatar

Call 211. It is an information number to find all sorts of emergency services specifically for your area. Try to look up homeless online, with your specific area included. It may have some ideas for you. Check the Salvation Army to see if they have a list of services, providers, or anything else to help you.
Good luck. I am sorry for your hardship.

jca's avatar

When you say you are “being fought” for unemployment, what exactly does that mean? I am assuming that they are seeking additional information, which is standard procedure. Is there something else that they are doing that you consider “being fought?

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (2points)
trailsillustrated's avatar

If the op has not under age kids, all he or she would be eligible for is snap and at least when I did it, it’s many appointments, classes, and you have to have an address. I got it for a while but gave up on it. And unemployment, you’re interviewed many times, it’s hard to get. ( in my opinion). My sister always got it even when she quit jobs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Check into the homeless shelters.My ex lived in one there in Seattle for 6 months.

Why were you denied benefits?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Check out some temp agencies. You may have to do factory work, but at least you’ll be bringing in some money.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Dutchess_III how many years ago was that. Homeless shelters are a joke especially there.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well…20.

talljasperman's avatar

I don’t recommend it but you can join the military pretty fast. As a skilled officer if you have a degree.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s really a good idea @talljasperman. As a system admin he would be in an office, not on the field.

wilma's avatar

There is probably a food pantry that services your area. You could check at the library, or your local municipal office for information on where to find it. Most food pantries will give you food the day you visit them and apply. They might also have other resources for emergency assistance or at least be able to help you find other resources.
Good luck to you.

dxs's avatar

Try checking in with Food Not Bombs in Seattle. It’s a non-authoritatively run organization that gives out food in public biweekly and hands out a ton of informative papers about things like homelessness and support. The group contains, from my experience, people who have a lot of advice and go out of their ways to help others in need.

dxs (15160points)“Great Answer” (8points)
CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

One thing that I would do (have done) is “remember this lesson for next time”. Obviously, you should have asked the questions six months ago or more, so that’s one lesson to keep uppermost. But that’s not helping you “right now”, so … back to that.

Since it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere you need dry shelter first, so consider how you can get that. (“Warm” dry shelter would be ideal, of course, but you can live without heat.) Be sure to save all of your warm clothing and rain gear, and keep it in good condition. Give yourself a crash course in sewing, and repair frequently. @marinelife‘s idea about moving from place to place with your vehicle is good, to a point, but if that vehicle is at risk of being repossessed, it’s dangerous to store all that you have in it, because once it’s found – and the odds are that it will be found sooner or later – when it’s towed, then there go all of your possessions, and no way for you to recover them without paying what is owed on the vehicle. So keep that in mind if you’re playing that cat-and-mouse game. If you can sell the vehicle to get some ready cash, then consider that will you still have the option. Even trading down for a lower-value vehicle and some cash – now that you know the value of having a few spare dollars in your pocket, they will last longer – might be wise.

If you can exchange any services with anyone for that shelter, then it will give you allies that you can gradually build up or rebuild your personal network. As a SysAdmin, which is a fairly esoteric field for the common folks whose help you need now, what else can you do? Tax preparation? Wood cutting? Maybe apply for work at Best Buy as part of their Geek Squad or similar?

@Dutchess_III‘s advice to seek work with temp agencies is good. (One of the reasons that I mentioned tax preparation is that it is that season now, and they do hire a lot of temps who can grok the various complexities of tax rules and then follow them. You should be qualified to at least run down that road, even if you don’t have current training or experience.) I got one of the best jobs I’ve ever had right after an unexpected layoff. I went out on a temp job, showed the folks who had hired me a whole lot more than they had bargained for, and it led to an offer of permanent employment with full benefits in short order. Part of the trick in temping is to show how broad your talents are, without too much specialty detail. That way you appeal to a broader selection screen, and when they hire you as “a body to fill a slot” and you bring a brain with you, they can find room.

And strange as it may seem, you might find work by volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Obviously, you’re in need of those services yourself, but they are “jobs” just like many others, and they need capable, willing people to perform them. You might even find permanent work with a foundation or charity via that route.

I’m assuming, of course, that you’re normally capable, ambulatory, sighted, etc. If you have particular disabilities that you have not mentioned, then that makes this all a lot tougher.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think that I would also recommend talking to cops about any suggestions that they might have. If you approach them in an upright manner, that is, not as a supplicant or beggar (or troublemaker, obviously) but just a man looking for advice (and making yourself known to them as “someone they will see on the street from time to time, and not a professional vagrant”), they may not have immediate references, but they have wider networks of contacts of all sorts than you do right now, and you might be surprised how helpful they can be at something like this.

Just remember your attitude: stand up straight, look them in the eye and ask for advice and some friendly assistance, not charity. When it’s clearly understood that you’re looking for work and not panhandling then their attitude is apt to be better than it otherwise might be.

You can also find out where the day laborers hang out in your area and join them in looking for casual work. I’ve done that, too (through a somewhat different route, since the work came looking for me instead of the reverse, but still …).

Quakwatch's avatar

This may seem like “outside the box” thinking, but have you considered trying to drive a cab or your own car for Lyft or Uber? I understand your car is in the process of being repossessed, but while you still have one, perhaps you can make enough cash to make some payments, then keep making cash till you can save enough for a place to stay?

jerv's avatar

Funny… I am in the Seattle area and had zero issues getting SNAP despite the fact that, technically, I am still employed. They just had to confirm with my employer that I was on unpaid medical leave, confirm my wife’s income, and that was that; not just approved, but expedited. It’s the second time I’ve been on SNAP in Seattle, the first being six years ago after I was laid off, and I got them then despite also drawing unemployment benefits in addition to my wife’s income.

TANF…. unless you have kids, forget it.

Given our current situation, we are looking at our options/resources as well. There are some agencies that can help with rent or utilities, but only if you have an eviction/shutoff notice. Our lights are still on due to one of those. And I know of unemployed people who have free cellphones for purposes of interviews and (if needed) 911 calls.

You are out of luck on the car payment though; the best you can hope for there is bus passes or an ORCA card.

jca's avatar

TANF is “Temporary Aid for Needy Families.” Unfortunately, if you are single, you don’t qualify as a family.

At the social services office, they have free phones with limited data plans. Sometimes called “Obama phones.” Where I work, the people with the phones are outside once a week, at least. I work for a government agency that gives aid to people like yourself.

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (4points)
Sinqer's avatar

I don’t know, but I will soon be in the same boat if I can’t get a job within a week in Phoenix AZ.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Man, I used to be on the brink of homeless for years. It was awful!

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t understand why you waited to apply for unemployment?

Sinqer's avatar

It will be worth it if I can find a job, any job, and get established back in the US. And then bring my girlfriend over to get married.

@JLeslie Under the impression that another job was right around the corner. If finding a job has been easy most of your life, the idea that after dozens of applications, and maybe interviews, not one of them is going to offer seems unlikely… until it happens. At least, that’s what happened to me. I also wouldn’t count on unemployment, especially if they fight it, which a lot of companies do. And suggesting, you should appeal it, doesn’t take into account that he might be appealing it from a cardboard box. They don’t hurry things up for you just because you don’t have a job.
Where to go and what to do during the appeal process is the real problem. And should I invest my time and effort into appealing for unemployment, or should I invest it in getting a job? I always chose a job, because it’s a long term solution.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As I understand it, the appeal process requires and in-person hearing, and most companies don’t want to waste their time on that. Plus there is the fact that you can appeal it multiple times so the companies just give up.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: Whatever is required for the appeal process, the companies don’t have a choice to do, or else if they forfeit, they will be paying out.

It’s neither here nor there at this point, but he should have taken himself to the unemployment office right away, put the paperwork in, and let the chips fall where they may. That was six months ago, when homelessness was not right around the corner as it is now.

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (1points)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Agreed. And there is a statute of limitations for filing unemployment and I think he missed it.

JLeslie's avatar

Wait, were you denied unemployment already? On what grounds?

I really don’t understand waiting to apply for unemployment even if you have plenty of money. Unemployment is not like welfare in my opinion. It’s like insurance that is paid into for just such an event. It’s like rainy day money you can only touch in a very particular circumstance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The comment he made that he was “under the impression that another job was right around the corner” makes me wonder if he didn’t quit his previous job. They’ll deny unemployment if you quit. Too many people would work somewhere for 6 months and then quit.

JLeslie's avatar

He said he was laid off in the original question. I’ve never heard of someone not applying within a few weeks for unemployment if they have not found a job. Why? Why pass up on the money? Especially as he was getting lower on money as the weeks passed.

jca's avatar

Even if one is confident of getting another job, the “not applying for unemployment” definitely makes no sense. $450 per week max, I believe, is nothing to pass up, especially when one is unemployed.

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (3points)
SeattleSysAdmin's avatar

@JLeslie I have not been denied unemployment they are just being difficult. The reason why I didn’t apply right was because I had enough money in my bank account for 6 months of rent, bills, food etc… and I thought for sure I would be able to get a new job so it didn’t even cross me (that’s my mistake that I wont make again).

@Quakwatch I should look into a cab. Lyft I can’t do because they want to see my insurance which I no longer have because I can’t afford it. Uber would probably want to see my insurance also, but even if they didn’t they want cars 2005 or newer and mine is a 2004.

SeattleSysAdmin's avatar

@jca I know TANF stands for that but I would actually be eligible even though I don’t have a family. I was denied because I don’t have a disability.

@jerv Yeah I was denied SNAP because I don’t have an income source. ORCA card would still be cheaper than car, insurance and gas but I don’t even have money for that.

Everyone else thank you for the advice and kind worrds so far. I am holding on a string hoping that unemployment will not be difficult anymore and come through.

When I do get a new job, you can believe me I will make sure to save up a lot more just to cover myself.

This ordeal is ridiculous.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeattleSysAdmin I still don’t get it, but I don’t want to lecture you or make you feel worse. If it ever happens again you’ll file right away. I feel badly you’re in this spot. I hope some of the ideas here help you. We all learn as we go. Goodness knows I have done things I wish I had done differently.

Is there any sort of time limit to file for unemployment once laid off? Like if you don’t file within a certain amount if months you can’t file?

jerv's avatar

You misunderstand; they may give you an ORCA card.

Also, ORCA Lift

jca's avatar

Unemployment in Washington State:

http://www.esd.wa.gov/uibenefits/apply/eligibility/am-i-eligible.php

You can apply online. Benefits are for 52 weeks, so it seems like you can still apply. I am not seeing a time limit to apply, once laid off. You have to have worked a certain amount within the past year in order to be eligible.

I also think that max benefit amount is more than what I thought it was, $450. It’s higher than that.

If you think you are eligible, you should try to apply now. You have nothing to lose.

jca (36054points)“Great Answer” (2points)
marinelife's avatar

Dear @SeattleSysAdmin I am so sorry for your ordeal.

pittfan20's avatar

I have alot of my clients that have been or are currently in this exact situation.Have you tried going to the local housing authority.

wiggins000's avatar

Sorry to hear that. Wish you best luck

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If you know you are going to be homeless, the 1st thing you should do is find out which Flutheronian lives close to you and see if they will bless you with a room or allow you to rent it. OK, if that is not happening what you should do, and these are measures to take, the first group applies even if you are going to get help from friends, the second group only applies when you are alone with just you (being redundant in phrases).

Before the home is lost:
• Get a storage unit or find some ally where you can securely store items.
• Get a non-contract phone.
• Find an address you can get your mail, even of a P.O. box.
• Secure a place to take showers, even if you have to purchase a very cheap gym membership.
• Sign up to get a food card, if your state has one.
• Learn all the places that give out free groceries, even if they do it only monthly.
• Find where you can get free meals even if you have to attend a religious service, some actually feed 1st before the message.
• If you can’t retain the vehicle, get a good bike, the lighter in weight the better.
• Anything you can sell, sell, if you are going to lose it anyhow, better to sell it.

If you are on your own:
• Find places you can hang during the day that are warm and dry where you don’t have to buy anything, like the library, bus station, clinic waiting room, etc.
• Scout out places that are off the path but not so far from help you can’t get some if needed, to sleep at night.
• A trailer for the bike, so the most important items you can keep close.
• Securing tarps, at least those good enough to be groundcover if you have to urban camp.
• Small 3-man tent that is self-contained and can be set up or stored away in 5 min.
• Pepper spray and/or stun gun to keep on your person, especially when sleeping.
• At least three good flashlights with plenty of batteries, and a headlamp if possible for those time you have to go hands-free.

I know there is something I am forgetting but that is all I can think of right now.

SeattleSysAdmin's avatar

Just wanted to share an update. I have had some promising interviews recently and I know that I will get a new job soon. I am still hanging by a string (it’s even shorter than when I posted this thread – I have about 20 dollars left to my name). Good thoughts / prayers for a stranger would be highly appreciated.

marinelife's avatar

@SeattleSysAdmin I will be crossing my fingers for you. Hang in there!

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