Homeless on the Range

Tiny - Posted on 21 February 2011

Friday, October 23, 2009;


Ingles sigue

I’m not currently homeless, but with the fickle stoner landlady that my partner and I have, that could change at any moment. We don’t want to be homeless again. If we lose our place here, we can’t afford another one here in Austin.

I’ve been homeless on and off since 1992, when I left home because my mom just refused to get along with me. At first I lived off my savings, but when that ended, I started crashing with friends and occasionally sleeping with guys to have a place to stay for the night. I smoked pot and dropped acid, so I don’t really remember much from 1992 to 1995. .

At the drop of a hat, if I ended up with some money from a little job, friends, or church, I’d decide to go off to Austin, Nashville, Dallas, or some other town. I’d work there for a while, but never could save enough to find a place. .

I met a guy with a lot of privilege and we dated all summer. I guess he liked having a little street girl to fool around with for a while, until his rich psychiatrist daddy freaked out after I got pregnant (I found out later that Daddy-O paid for my abortion.) Then my boyfriend literally dropped me off in front of a teen homeless shelter. Two months of depression and drug use ensued. .

I met a British space physicist and had a semester-long affair with him, once again ending up pregnant. This time, I was not going to terminate my pregnancy. I was able to find a supportive midwife who moved me to North Texas, where I gave birth to Maya in 1996.

I returned to college in 1997,but it only lasted a year. My parents and I had reconciled by that point, so I ended up moving in with them in El Paso. I was able to find a good job as a telephone operator, but once again, depression reared its ugly head, and I got fired. .

My parents told the State that I was not fit to care for my daughter because of my mental illness, so they took her from me, promising me that they would give her back when I was more stable. Then the State charged me with child endangerment because some anonymous asshole reported that I had left my child alone and didn’t feed her. I got probation, but pissed it away after my mom told me not to see my daughter. I ran off to Houston in 1999 after CPS refused to assist me in obtaining mental health services. .

I got pregnant again the next year after a fling with an eighteen year old. I went off to San Francisco, but returned to Austin after six weeks. I moved in with some friends from the LGBT community, and gave birth to Ethan in 2001. .

I had odd jobs and help from friends, and that’s how I survived with Ethan then. We traveled around the country, but the grass was not greener on the other side. We always returned to Houston. .

In 2004, we were living in a mentally ill group home in Houston when I met Todd, a fellow resident. We quickly fell in love and got our own place, but that didn’t last long, because I was so afraid of CPS and the State coming to get me. I left for Austin that summer, and Todd followed me a few months later. .

I became pregnant and we moved to Albuquerque, where we stayed until Zen was born in early 2005. We returned to Austin, where we stayed at the Salvation Army for six months until we qualified for a housing program. We moved into our own apartment in a nice area and Ethan began school. Almost immediately after moving, I once again got pregnant with Serenity, born in 2006. We spent that year moving from one apartment’s “$99 move in special” to another. .

Todd got a part-time job in 2007 and we moved into a house. Unfortunately, he became physically disabled in addition to his mental illness, so we lost the house. We spent most of 2007 going around the country trying to find him better health care for his neurological disorder, caused by the negligence of his psychiatrist. .

In September of 2007, we moved back to Austin and briefly stayed in the Catholic Worker house. Unfortunately, the woman there didn’t like Todd and threw him out, so the kids and I left the next day. Unbeknownst to us, she called CPS on us. .

We got help from the School District to move into an cramped apartment in a bad area of town. To help pay the rent, I started stripping, but fell back into drug abuse, so I just wasn’t able to take care of the kids like I should have. Todd was basically bedridden at that point. CPS came, but they saw nothing wrong, so they closed the case. .

March 2008 was when the shit hit the fan. Our apartment complex was sick of fixing our windows broken by the neighbors playing soccer, so they threatened to evict us. The next day, I received a call at work from CPS saying they were removing my children because of neglect. My house was a total pigsty because I was too depressed to care, and the police were called. They discovered my warrant for probation violation, arrested me, and sent me back to El Paso. They sent Todd to the mental hospital. .

After I was sentenced in El Paso, I was arrested for child endangerment again in Austin, and was transported back. The whole time I was incarcerated, I only got one visit from friends. I ended up serving my sentences concurrently, and was released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in December of last year. .

Todd and I went to court and had our parental rights terminated and so our children went to foster care, then adoption. It is still very hard on us ten months later. .

I finally was able to access mental health services and chemical dependency treatment, and now I am receiving Supplemental Security Income as well as Todd’s. Unfortunately, it is hard to locate affordable housing in Austin nowadays, so we rent an RV month to month. We don’t know when our college student landlady is going to flake out on us and want us to move. I don’t know what is going to happen then, but I am a survivor, so I know I’ll make it through.

...so what's your point? If you're acting as a cautionary tale for young people making bad choices, I'm with you. If you're looking for sympathy because "we all make mistakes," you're on your own. Sorry, but makinhg a bad decision is one thing; making bad decisions a lifestyle, like you have, is another.

And I am not afraid to use my name...apparently you have to hide behind anonymity.

S. Langley


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