Back in December 2010, Alexandra had taken the initiative to organize "Letters to Bernie" where the unemployed could write Sen. Bernie Sanders and share with him their long-term unemployment struggles. A couple of weeks ago I published a story of Alexandra Jarrin, who was battling against the odds to keep a roof over her head.
A number of readers asked for an Alexandra update. It pains me to say that Alexandra's situation is still very difficult; she is days from being homeless and her health is worsening.
Shay Totten who writes a political column for Seven Days -- Vermont's Independent Voice, contacted Alexandra after reading my Huffington Post article. He published an article, Vermont Woman Who Led Fight for '99ers' on Verge of Homelessness, which resulted in Alexandra being contacted by a couple of concerned individuals, including a staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders. The staffer said that she may be able to help Alexandra locate housing assistance, but that proved inaccurate. According to Alexandra, "I spoke with (Sen Sanders' staffer) and she said that there really isn't anything she can do for me beyond telling me of the local resources which I am already familiar with and connected to."
The staffer did mention that Alexandra could potentially qualify for a rapid re-housing grant through HUD, but only IF she is employed. That's a Catch-22; she needs a job to receive housing assistance, but she needs housing to properly look for a job. Disturbingly, federal, state and local governments aren't able to help the struggling long-term unemployed find temporary housing. As a result, Alexandra remains in her hotel room, living day to day.
The help that Alexandra received from some very generous individuals is greatly appreciated. JG from TX, K and P all paid for portions of her hotel stay. Without any further help, March 5 may be the last day she will have a roof over her head. "JG from Texas also sent me $400.00 to pay a month's car payment." JG likely kept Alexandra's car from being repossessed, which would likely end any chance of her finding work in rural Vermont. Without those generous gifts, she would be living in her car, or worse.
The high stress of unemployment, near homelessness and health issues are understandably taking a high toll on Alexandra's spirit.
"You know, Mike, on March 24 I will be 50 years old, I used to see this as a milestone for the beginning of a new leg of my life, now I wonder if I will even make it to that day. I can't plan for the future, I go to the doctor's office and its always bad news and all they keep telling me that most of it is either brought on by stress or the stress in my life is what is heightening the issues. High blood pressure, diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Hyperparathyroidism, gallstones and kidney stones and God knows what else they are going to find. The worst thing I ever had to deal with was several kidney stones and the treatment for them.
How do I reduce stress when I live each day or two wondering what is going to become of me, how long before I will literally be in the streets. I have been homeless for eight months now, lost my entire life eight months ago, drove away from a lifetime of memories and personal belongings that are not replaceable. My parents are both dead and anything I had that belonged to them is gone because I had no way to store them or move them, all gone. My mother died of a stroke at the age of 58. She worked herself to death. I was just 19 years old and now the doctors are telling me that if I don't take care of myself I am going to stroke out just like she did. But I should reduce the stress in my life.
I would hope that people understand that after trying everything the government has told us to do, relocating, spending my last of my saving to move to TN in the hopes of finding gainful employment, losing more and more of myself each time that its dreadfully scary to face each day and hear the same things each day. To be hunted by bill collectors, to live with the fear that I will be in a box under a bridge somewhere soon. Sounds dramatic, but it's the drama of my life."
Alexandra continues to look for work.
"I spent the entire day today dropping off applications all over town once again at all these places that will take an application rather than an online application, I have done this three times now, once every three months and still each time I go in they tell me the same thing, they will keep it on file if they are looking for someone in the future. It's to the point where i cant just drive around willie nillie because with the price of gas now, it costs me $42.50 to fill up my tank."
Her note ended with, "I am whole heartedly grateful for everything but I am still so scared for what is to become of me."
Let that sink in, "but I am still so scared for what is to become of me."
Millions of unemployed are experiencing similar nightmares of the days to come. As the pundits and politicos celebrate a "jobless" economic recovery or "new normal" unemployment rate of 9 percent at the mahogany tables of board rooms and congressional offices, the talk at many kitchen tables of the long-term unemployed are much less cheerful. Millions of American families are deciding how they will survive the next week without a job, without money to pay for shelter and without any help from a government that squandered trillions of taxpayer dollars on corrupt and mismanaged banks and financial institutions. They are wondering, "What is to become of me?"
While Congress readies to cut $390 million in heating assistance for the poor and $747.2 million from WIC - Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, it wants to increase funding for capital police security by $12.5 million. Congress, in its majestic sense of self-importance, feels it's more important to protect itself than to protect millions of vulnerable Americans - the Alexandra Jarrins of this country. Until that congressional mindset changes, we can expect more suffering from those who have already suffered the most.
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"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." Franklin D. Roosevelt