Most days, I spend the morning on the phone. Now I may have facebook and email up, but I’m probably just clicking around there while I leave messages. So, just to prove that I do more than sit on my hiney and drink coffee, this is today’s phone calls and responses:
In Texas, churches and other agencies no longer operate privately, you call 2-1-1 to get referred to clearinghouse agencies. So I started there, because the list does change as funding becomes available to different places. I am looking for rental assistance for 03/01, and also utility assistance.
Richardson Network — will only help with rent if I have a job. However, they did set me an appointment for 10:00 in the morning on 03/04, which works around the training schedule for my new job. They gave me a list of required items and I guess I will print off the official offer letter to see if that will work as proof of employment.
Richardson East Care Corps — no funds available until April
North Dallas Shared Ministries — will only help people who are currently employed having a one-time emergency. New job starts 03/03? Talk to us after you’ve been there 5 days. That won’t help with 03/01 rent.
Then I called places that I could think of:
United Way — provides funds to charities, does not provide funds directly to individuals. I knew that, but I figured they might know agencies in my area. Referred me to Red Cross and Salvation Army
Red Cross — natural disaster assistance only (which I pretty much expected, but you never know)
Salvation Army — no funds available
Catholic Charities — on Mondays only, they will set an appointment for a counselling session to see what they can do. I couldn’t call this Monday because everything was closed for President’s Day. I can call next Monday 02/24, but I doubt I will get an appointment and then be funded by 03/01. Most appointments are 1 to 2 weeks out and I don’t have that time.
Jewish Family Services — left voicemail, no return call yet
Local High School — talked to my daughter’s principal and was referred to student assistance. Left voicemail, no return call yet
Ex-husband — daughter lived with him until last March, so he had custody. He has refused to sign her over to me unless I agree not to pursue child support, and I’m not giving away her right of access to any resources he might have, so we’ve been at a standstill. He called a couple weeks ago and said he was going to get us $200 twice a month (he gets paid that often). Last month he gave us $300 total. He did not answer my call today, left voicemail, no return call yet.
Urban League — left voicemail, no return call yet
County HHS — this one was actually very frustrating. They are listed as: Section 8 Rental Assistance Program, County Emergency Rental Assistance / Welfare Program and Housing Assistance Program, Health and Human Services, City HAP, Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program / CEAP and HUD-Approved Assistance. There are 2 phone numbers, one to the general HHS office and one to the specific housing office. I finally realized that these are all the same place, but it took several calls and much confusion. They only provide housing assistance to disabled people, which I am not. They told me to call for an appointment for utility assistance which would be set for next week. I called 22 times in an hour, on 3 of those I got a pre-recorded message about high call volume, call later. The other calls were not even answered by an automated system.
CCA (Christian Community Action) — number not in service
Center of Hope — even though the blurb says they provide assistance in my city, they do not cover my zip code
City Department of Housing — referred me to 2 other agencies
Multi-Purpose Center — outgoing message states do not leave message, appointments are set from 9 to 11 Mondays and Wednesdays, list of places for which funding is available and for which it is not, please call back
MLK Social Service line — outgoing message states center is open Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 11 or until all available appointments are filled
County Planning and Development — must be disabled
Housing Authority — circular phone tree. Press 1 for English. Press 3 for all other departments. Press 3 again for all other departments (yep, they didn’t list my department either time). Press 1 for English. Press 3 for all other departments. Twice. Press 0 to see if I could get an operator, got asked to press 1 for English again. Gave up, since apparently they don’t actually want to talk to people, and really I expect them to tell me they can only help if I’m disabled.
High School — called me back. Said they can provide free breakfast and lunch (we already get that, but the lady wouldn’t know) and a bus pass so daughter can continue to stay in this school if we are in a shelter. I will go down and fill out the form for that, she can use the bus pass in any case since she might need to stay late to use internet at school from time to time.
Tried the CEAP one more time, got a message that said high call volume, agents busy, please hold. Listened to it cycle about 5 times, then was told to call again later.
So that was my morning from 8 to 12:15. I am now going to take a shower and get on the bus to make the rounds of places I can visit in person, see what I can get done. I am also going to do dishes, make lunch, look at Volusion to see if they are more affordable than Etsy for selling the stuff I make. I have an Etsy account but I haven’t been able to post anything or renew postings in months. I will also look at other funding options online, see if there’s anything I can do. No loans, though, because at this point with my anticipated income, I can’t guarantee being able to pay them back.
I can’t wait to get back to work. It’s less stressful.
The rest of the day:
I left the house at 1:30 to catch the bus. I had a check from a family member that I needed to take to the bank. The bank is across the street from Jewish Family Services so I stopped in. I told the lady behind the counter my issues and she said at first that they didn’t have any funds. Then I told her the backstory, and she told me to come back tomorrow and talk to someone. I stopped by the grocery store and tried to pay a bill with the money from the check but they wouldn’t take it because the bill was past due. Really, all my bills are past due because in Texas when you become unemployed it takes them 5 weeks to get you the full amount of the first month’s payments. That means that all your bill have cycled at least once, and since unemployment pays about 65% – 70% of your previous income, you don’t have extra money to catch up, so you just pay past due amounts. Anyway, I walked down the block to catch a bus to another grocery store to make the payment. This time I was clever enough to write the account number on a separate piece of paper and not pull out the bill. Then I had to wait for the bus again, which was 15 minutes late, and connect to another bus. Got home just about 6:30. So it took me 5 hours to do only those few things. I did pick up sleeves for my artist trading cards that I’ve been making though (100 sleeves for $0.79, so I don’t feel hugely guilty about that) and I stopped in at PetsMart and petted the adoption kitties for a minute. I knew I had time for that and still made the bus to pay the bill. Now all I have to do is call and be sure the payment is logged.