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No place to live

On Life and Love after 50 Newsletter - No where to live

Last week, I described a woman who was “rescued” by a man because she had no place to live and earns $895 a month. She is 68 and has no savings. She is not happy with the way he is treating her. I call her situation, "Coyote Ugly."

Beale Street Saloon sign in Memphis Tennessee I asked Champs for suggestions. As you always do, you came through with sage advice. I was surprised that only women responded. No men. This is longer than usual, but, information is included that could be helpful to many older single women who find themselves in a similar predicament. And, even considerably younger woman could benefit, encouraging them to take financial steps now, while they are younger, to avoid the same thing happening to them. Stay-at-home moms who are not working and earning no income could benefit from this information as well. The Champs’ responses follow: Manu said, “Holy crap, she is in a pickle! My advice to her: “Go to the nearest senior center, coffee shop, YMCA, or laundromat and see if there is a bulletin board advertising for a roommate. You can afford to be a roommate on your limited budget. “Get a job watering plants, pet sitting, or even house sitting. Your disability should not limit you from doing this. “The situation is bad but not horrible. Suck it up and make a day, week, and one-month plan. Stick to it. “No woman or man should ever think that being rescued is a permanent style of living. Rescuing is temporary and always a learning experience.” Cris wrote: “Since they did not have ‘the talk’ before moving in and she doesn't seem to have other options, I suggest laying the cards on the table. Start by saying you appreciate that he knew you were in a no-win situation and thank him for offering to help. Maybe there isn't a romantic relationship growing but would it be possible to remain live-in companions? She could offer to take on half to two thirds of the cooking responsibilities. This should include paying half of the groceries. She could also offer to help keep the house tidy and do the laundry but he is responsible for cleaning his room and bathroom. Joanne was frank: “The woman is screwed. Does she have a church or a senior center that can help her? CA and Hawaii are the worst states for wait lists for Section 8 HUD housing. None are fast and all have waiting lists. I'm not sure how she plans to pay for someone to move her furniture. If she sells most of her furniture that will help. HUD apartments are usually small. Here is a suggested link: Note from Tom: Thanks to Joanne for the above link. It has a great deal of information to help seniors. According to the link, Section 8 is now called Housing Vouchers. So, HUD subsidies exist but under a different name. Mary Lou emailed, “Most places that accept tenants have a waiting list. While putting her name on such a list will not solve her immediate dilemma, it doesn’t hurt to do so. I suggest she go online and find every place near where she lives that accepts vouchers, and get on the waiting lists. Also, does she have any girlfriends that she might be able to rent a room from for a couple hundred bucks a month until she can come up with a plan? I was very close to her situation 25 years ago, and a dear friend let me stay with her for a couple of months while I looked for another place. “I looked at more than 30 rooms-to-rent before finding a wonderful place in a trailer park. I was a lot younger than our Champ though, so I know it would be harder for her. But I identify with her. “My boyfriend was abusive and mean, and I had allowed myself to become dependent on him due to health issues plus depression, and it was a terrible situation.” JJ emailed, “She put herself between a rock and a hard place. If she doesn't like where she is, she can stay with her family and her friends.” Note from Tom: She says, “No one, neither relatives nor friends, will or can take me in.”

No Welcome to the Family in this case “She can move to a shelter for abused women or go to a homeless shelter. She can sell her furniture and use the money to move back to wherever she came from if she can live on less than $895 a month. There are lots of low income rental possibilities. Priority is given to homeless people. Sarah shared, “We have housing available here in Indiana for that specific need, and feel it must be nationwide because it’s federally funded. At least it would be worth looking into. We have senior citizen facilities that have different levels of care, one of which is considered independent living and comes with large studio to two bedroom apartments. They take social security, leaving her with a small amount each month for personal spending but everything else would be provided for except a cell phone. They provide bus service that offers freedom to go shopping, etc., entertainment, social functions. Some facilities need doctor's prescription to get them in due to a health issue, some not. Her arthritis might qualify her. She should contact the Council on Aging in her area. There are a lot of options available, and this lady needs to get creative, find her own place to live so she can be independent and still enjoy life, not worrying each day where her next meal will come from or the next pillow on which to lay her head. I know these things because I just helped a lady friend work thru the process and get into a comfortable situation. She does so on the same amount of money this lady is talking about. It isn't just romantic situations that can go awry. I welcomed someone (male), who I had known and been friends with since high school, into my home for two to three months, so he could get his health back and back on his feet financially. We had a financial agreement, which he stuck to only partially. The time turned into a year, the last nine months of which I was trying to get him to move. I finally had to literally kick him out. Maria, “She should have a frank talk with the man who has given her shelter. If she can't come to a compromise, agree on a plan for a transition out date. It sounds like he wants her to cook and clean in exchange for shelter and it wasn't clear before she moved in. "She might consider moving out of state to a less expensive living area. "There are a lot of low income senior housing complexes in CA and I know a lot of people are living in them on $900 SSI a month. "Contact EAH Housing Corp. for low income housing for older adults. It's not hopeless when you know where to go for help and plan wisely. In the meantime, communication is the key with your friend." Teresa said, “Can she qualify for a financial supplement to her income, SSI (Supplemental Security Income)? Also, now is the time for her to look for and sign up for subsidized senior housing (not section 8). She should be on any and all of those lists she can find because it takes time before a place comes up. “She also needs food stamps and to be on Lifeline telephone. “Our economy is not made for single/divorced people! I am 60 and finding it very hard to get hired after many years of working on my own — in fact, I’ve worked my whole life and raised my kids without help or $$ from my ex’s! “I have a home but it is not paid for and my payments are just over $1,000, which is about what my SS check will be after working my whole life. I was not married long enough to qualify for my spouse’s SS and my income was low. I don’t have retirement other than SS. I still have a young adult daughter living at home but she has many problems. I could sell my house but I don’t want to give up on my daughter. “I’ve been thinking about starting a blog as a way to supplement my income.” Note from Tom: Recently, I’ve had a couple of seniors tell me they are going to take up writing to earn money, either by blogging or writing a book. I encourage writing as a wonderful activity, but, not as a way to earn money. If you knew how little writers earn--unless they are famous like Stephen King—from book sales, blogs, newspaper columns, etc., you’d realize you’d be better off working at McDonald’s. Teresa concluded, “I’m grateful that for today I am still in my own home and could sell if I needed to move.”

Another Champ wrote me yesterday, she said,

  • Think about relocating out of CA. I know for a fact you can get a studio w/utilities included for $400/mo. in the Midwest (specifically, Iowa). If arthritis is an issue, look at Arizona. You can search listings for any area on Craigslist

  • Offer to take care of a senior (advertise on Craigslist) in exchange for a room. You can cook and clean, someone may need you to do that for an elderly parent

  • Give in to his requests, tell him you are now his official maid/cook. Take the romance out of it, plead you have physical limitations if you must. Fulfill all his housekeeping requests and don't complain. Smile and act cheery. He evidently thought that was the deal. Or,

  • Offer to pay him rent in exchange for doing limited housekeeping and cooking. Like $200- $300/mo.

  • Look into free legal counseling at a senior center. Many of them have free appointments. It wouldn't hurt to talk to an attorney and find out what your rights are in this situation. Or call the Legal Aid society in your area.

From Tom: Thanks to all of you for your valuable input.

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