jmartinCaring for Grandchildren

—Alamance County, NC, aid recipient—

Well, I’ve lived here around Burlington all my life. Burlington-Mebane area and we just, I got custody of my granddaughters and then my wife decided to leave me after that because she didn’t want that responsibility. So, I couldn’t really afford nothing. I wasn’t working. So, I went to Burlington house and then put in an application and got this unit here.

The dad is incarcerated. And their mother she’s, I don’t know, she’s… she lives here in Burlington, she don’t really have nothing to do with them.

Tough to Get to the Better Life

You know, they base your rent on your income plus you get energy efficiency here to. You get credit for your light bills and stuff like that. Mine is, they give me a credit of $31.00 a month. You know which is pretty cheap for a four bedroom home but it’s still rather high. I mean, that’s the whole point of being in the house, is it being able to get yourself at a better point in life, to where you can afford better and nicer. And it seem like, you know, they, they won’t let you reach that point. ‘Cause any time you get money they’ll raise your rent. So, it’s kind of one of them deals that I feel, you know, once you get in here, it’s very hard to get out.

I mean, they do offer several different wonderful programs to the BHA. You know, the financial education. How they offer a loan while you work, you put in so much money and they put in so much money. And it all goes into an account where you can buy your own home. So, you know, they’ve got a bunch of wonderful programs here. A lot of, there’s still a lot of people don’t know about them. Even though it’s, they in the newsletters. People just kind of look at it like, I don’t know what this is. And look away from it. There’s not real enough knowledge of explaining to people what they are.

They only thing I’ve used is the summer, I mean not the summer—well I’ve used the summer enrichment program to for my kids—but I use the after school program for my kids. It’s helping a lot, as you can see on my wall here. I’ve got awards for the children. You know, my oldest girl she got the gold presidents awards of academic achievement this year.

Building Safer Communities

We’ve created our own little family here. We watch each other’s children. We know who’s supposed to be here, who ain’t supposed to be here. Who’s supposed to talk to what children and if we see something out of the ordinary one of the parents is going up to them and address the situation.

Every once and a while of course, you know, we get a bad one in but that don’t last long. Because we, at the community, we can all get together and we talk to someone at BHA, which usually—since I’m the president of the resident council, you know, so they come to me now. And you know, I can address it and I’ll take it to Lisa Murray or someone at BHA. And they’ll investigate the situation and they’ll watch and then they’ll evict the person if they’re doing wrong.

 Difficulties Getting Disability

I’m, actually I’m trying to get my disability to go through. And, if I can get it go through than I’m, we’ll move out then because I’ll have more money to be able to work with outside of here.

[Q: Is it difficult to get disability?] Oh, disability’s very hard to get. I’ve been trying for three years now….

My brother, he has one leg and he applied for disability and they turned him down. They said, on his letter they said that the situation would not last more than a year. So, we went up there and we took him up the social security board and we asked for what was going to happen his leg, it’ll grow back? (laughs) Yeah. So, the fellow automatically done a, a review with him and set the things back in.

 Major Life Changes

So far it’s been, you know they [the Social Security Disabilities Program] turned me down twice. You know, which I got an attorney this round. [Q: Have you been able to work in the meantime at all?] No. Now that I had a heart attack. About three years ago and I haven’t been able to work since. Plus, I have a lot of mental issues going on. Just, a loss a lot of things. You know, because I have asthma, emphysema, COPD. Plus, I have congestive heart failure. I have social anxiety, bipolar, severe depression. You know, so I have a ton of stuff against me right now.

Good People, A Few Bad Decisions

People that live in public houses are just having a hard time financially, that’s all. You know, good wonderful people in here. And I’ve met, since I’ve been here, I’ve met some extraordinary people that I’m just amazed has to live in public housing. And it’s all due to some bad decisions they’ve made in their life and all but… But I have really seen some very intelligent, very kind and loving people that goes out of their way to help another person. The outside world needs to look in here and see that. You know, some of these people in public housing, you know, they care. They’ll give their last bit of food out of their house to help the family next door. You know, where a lot of people on that side, they won’t do that. 

Jeffrey lives in public housing and receives disability while he is caring for his grandchildren. He is Caucasian, aged 50, and was interviewed by Elon student Kristen Bryar on June 20, 2013.

This entry was posted in Health & Disability, Making ends meet, Place: Alamance County, Single Parenting, Stories, Truth 1: No one gets rich. Bookmark the permalink.

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