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Almost Got Scammed, Got Real Housing!

First, if you saw yesterday's post, http://robertsloan2.livejournal.com/585925.html, and can't afford to pitch in a few bucks to help me move - you can still help big time. Just copy the link and repost it on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, any social media you have. Ask them to pass it on. If friends of friends of friends start pitching in it'll reach the goal without burdening anyone.

I'll do the same whenever I see your posts raising funds for emergencies and pay it forward once I'm on my wheels.

The one bedroom furnished apartment on Liberty St. was a scam. I didn't send any actual money, so I didn't get bit. Instead, I spent 12 hours making phone calls, checking listings on Apartment Finder and Craigslist, finally got a real address in San Francisco with a rented room that costs more than the fake. I can have my cat, no worries about Ari.



Warning bells rang throughout the prose - poor grammar, weird capitalization, God-pounding after I'd said I wasn't Christian. Major warning - the one that tipped me off to ask Kitten. I filled out a list of questions for online rental application and the acceptance came a couple of days later.

Kitten mentioned that she hadn't checked her email. So whether an actual query about my rental history was sent or not, that meant the acceptance came without seeing a response on that. If it was real, I could've scammed her. But it wasn't. She wanted payment a month in advance by Western Union to send the keys and documents. She was outside the country.

"Scam!"

So I replied suggesting an escrow service instead, to be released when I inspect the apartment.

Get this: "Oh no! I don't want to give out my bank account! The last time I did, I almost went to jail!"

I'm just... boggled at the stupidity of including that in the scam. I mean, that's a freaking confession, isn't it???

Blew me away. So the searching started. I found out some more information about what the city's like in 2011 that warmed my heart. Seriously, it hasn't changed. It's moved in the same directions it was going and all the changes are good ones so far. Everything I liked about it is a little bit more so now. Everything I didn't is still tolerable the way it was then, worth the price. I'm trading less material things for more happiness and health, something priceless.

Episcopalian Community Services program for Aging and Disability helped me find a residence hotel. Turns out that most of them now belong not to foreign slumlords, but to a Tenderloin neighborhood organization that successfully fought gentrification. The only hitch is, you had to be referred from a homeless shelter to get into them. What? I don't want to become homeless! I'm not broke, I've got money, I have a cat.

When I told her I was trying to get a good address so that I could get into social services and take my time finding permanent housing or becoming self employed to afford it, she perked up. She referred me to a residence hotel on the edge of the Tenderloin. I'd seen the ads and knew market rate was $200 a week. I was preparing to pay first-and-last and deposits so paying a bit over what I could afford on SSI alone on what my check is in Arkansas is a reasonable choice that'd give me time to meet prospective housemates in person or get my street license, go off SSI and afford it.

That's if I don't get enough of an income adjustment on SSI to afford to just stay there, keep all personal expenses minimum and test the market to see just what kind of income I'd expect and how many days a month I could work in a climate much better than New Orleans for me. I didn't function year round in New Orleans. It felt like heaven because I had a longer active season there than any other place I've lived except San Francisco, where it was "good season" year round.

Worst case, I bought myself a month of time and the IHSS people assisting me to get into a cheaper unit or subsidize my rent so that it's sustainable. Best, very best case, there is a cost of living adjustment between rural Arkansas and San Francisco, so my check expands a little and that's tight-but-comfortable with enough more allowed to afford my Internet, tobacco, phone and a bit of spending money for 99 cent Kindle books and so on. That would allow me to take my time and be careful about becoming self employed again.

When I decided to look for a residence hotel, I knew the listings were $200 a week. I decided if they didn't allow cats I'd leave Ari in Arkansas till I found permanent housing and look immediately. Harry said my cat was fine. The lifestyle in those buildings hasn't changed. Cats and often cat-sized dogs are allowed. Most of the residents are disabled or elderly and the city and the Tenderloin organization recognize that having a cat is a vital quality of life matter for disabled or elderly people living in a rented room. I was so relieved.

Real rent is $650 a month. Exactly covered by my check with $2 a month for Everything Else. So I'll be living at a net loss until I either get self employed and earn just a little more than SSI pays, or I get a cost of living adjustment that covers the shortfall. Truth - the shortfall is not on essentials. It's on smoking and having spending money and having Internet and phone, cat food/litter. It's my city that thinks having Food and Shelter With Utilities and use of a shared bathroom with showers is not enough to live like a human being. It's far more than New Orleans could have provided. My city believes I should be able to live like a human being and not on the edge of survival, they understand I do need my cat and my online friends.

I called the San Francisco Arts Commission as soon as I made the decision, before I even hunted down the Residence Hotels downtown. Talking to them, I discovered that yes, I could send in my $20 screening fee and stand a good chance to be in the August screening for a street art license.

The goal is in reach. The shortfall may be very easy to solve depending on how strong I am when I move in. The last gap is making sure I get the power chair fast because I'll need that to successfully do the street art thing. So I'll have to be very frugal with my savings and spend as little on the trip as possible so that I have leftover in case I don't get the license till September or there's a delay in my getting the power chair.

I'm going to apply for a Modest Needs grant to get a year's Street Artist license as a leg up. That would keep me from having to reserve my first day or two of sales (worst case) for renewing a three month license and let me use that money for all those other important things, like getting my phone plan and Internet setup. It'd be "hard choices" time between not shipping some of my stuff versus holding back the license fee. It'd be "hard choices" time building up the license fee on eBay and Etsy sales and hoping I get affiliate income checks in time.

But I realized that it's not as precarious as I thought, jumping right in on self employment once I have my power chair and support services set up. I do have other income streams. One of them is passive. The other can be done indoors on days I'm not up to going out but feeling pretty good mentally - middling days I can work on good art, put it on eBay and Etsy, publicize the listings. Websites alone might build up to a good working class income full time if I worked on them every day till I had enough affiliate checks to live on. Slow and steady. Etsy is slow and pays well. eBay is fast and the market rises and falls.

The same prints that I bring out to my street art setup could go on Etsy and eBay as permanent listings.

The more I thought about "Become low income self employed" as the solution to the rent shortfall, the more optimistic I became. I did not have those other income streams to bolster it and carry me through on a sick day or a bad week or a bad month when I was a street artist in New Orleans.

Street Art and eBay are flexible immediate income sources. I can choose how much effort to put into those every month, get my necessities and regular bills taken care of on those. Use the slow affiliate income for a little savings to build up and maintain the savings I have left over after getting into the city - what would cover me if I got sick and lost a month to pneumonia. Tap it when the market's low, build it when the market's high. Rebuild it as soon as possible living frugally so that I have that security.

Everything that comes in after that goes into material improvements on the business, everything from the further equipment I wanted Voc. Rehab to get me to buying Facebook ads so that my aggregated art listings get more exposure. I have a feeling that San Francisco Landscapes will be a very popular subject online for people who don't live in San Francisco. Everyone who loved it from seeing it in the movies or ever went on vacation there or wants to might be intrigued.

That, in terms of why San Francisco, is a hard commercial reason why it's better than Seattle for being who I am and doing what I do.

I haven't bought a pro level Cafepress store or Zazzle store. That'd be a good investment once I cross the line. I'll start crossing that line as soon as I rev up my power chair. That's the plan.

Use as little of the city's resources as I actually need. Don't even bother with Voc. Rehab. They are short on funding right now, I got warned by IHSS. That means there are a lot of people who need it tons more than I do. I might check into it when I'm stable, when my savings are topped off and the business is comfortably growing, to see if I can offer an apprenticeship program. But I need to get on my wheels first and find the right balance of work and rest to sustain living on my art and writing in San Francisco.

Every time I prod that plan, bash it, test it, ask myself what could go wrong, it looks like the best plan. I could live in the Winton Hotel for years. No private bath means that the janitor's cleaning it as part of my rent - bathroom cleaning doesn't have to be done by my IHSS assistant. I can use the least amount of personal assistance so that when I do let go of MediCal and Food Stamps and IHSS in favor of insurance and professional service out of pocket, the bill is affordable at my then-income with about as much cushion for minor emergencies and savings and spending money.

If I am good at strategy, I can avoid a catastrophic quality of life cut at the point I'm ready to make the Taxpayer Leap. Self Supporting is not the same thing as crossing the poverty line. I know that I will though. I know that my long term goal is to build up all of it steady and then move up out of the Winton Hotel into a rented room in the Haight with a supportive, compatible household that I can take my time getting to know before we all move in together. That'd cost $1200 a month and I still wouldn't need the kitchen stuff and separate-apartment stuff or the hassles of taking care of it.

If I hit "Self Supporting" the month after I get the power chair and license, I make a smaller footprint in the city's needs at every step of growth. It's so San Franciscan to think this way - to not just be rushing toward my economic goals because I want to be prosperous, but because I know I'll be freeing up resources for the next folks coming down the line. It's the big win-win, getting what I want in a way that'll help others.


That's done. That's taken care of. I have real housing thanks to yesterday's stress and mental overexertion. I now have one full month to get it together, choose what to bring, what to send for and what to give away.

I also just got a 26 pound box of cool art supplies to review from Jerry's Artarama, so I had a giveaway in my room and gave both Kitten and Sascha some bulky supplies I didn't like, evened out the space this new stuff will take. Review items take high priority in shipping if I haven't reviewed them yet, it's not fair to the company that sent them to wait for months before I write them up. I might as well use them to do my street art samples! Love the Gallery Artist's Handmade Pastels on sight, they look a lot like Unisons!
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
notalwaysweak
Jul. 1st, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
The main thing I took out of all of this, aside from how carefully you've obviously thought it all through, was YAY you don't have to leave Ari behind! Because really, I couldn't imagine that at all.
robertsloan2
Jul. 1st, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
That would have been a worst case, last ditch option. I had to do it before once or twice, the longest was for four days before I saw him again. I worried about him night and day until I did. But it was needed at the time to move to Colorado and we both survived.
nerwengreen
Jul. 1st, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Looks like things are coming together nicely. :)

I posted about you in my own monthly update (here).
robertsloan2
Jul. 1st, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
PURR thank you! Our circles don't really overlap so that's spreading it far and wide! PURR thanks!

shade53
Jul. 1st, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you didn't get conned and everything looks like it's going in the right direction - I just wish I was in a place where I could help by doing more than reposting links to your art. Safe travels and many multitudes of blessings for both you and Ari! :)
robertsloan2
Jul. 1st, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
THank you for doing that! If you repost the links more than once it's incredible help. You know people I don't and they know people I don't who may pass it on. I got another donation today. It's all adding up.

Purrrr thank you!
elialshadowpine
Jul. 2nd, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
One thing I will mention -- you will probably not get the power chair immediately. You will have to get approved for Medi-Cal, acquire a doctor, get the doctor to approve the chair and put the request in with Medi-Cal, and then you'll have to wait for it to be approved, and go through the process of actually ordering the chair (from what I've heard from people on BYDLS, this can be more complicated than you would think)..... I would expect at least a few months with all the paper-pushing that needs to be done. Just be prepared that it might take some time. :)
robertsloan2
Jul. 2nd, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
Yikes. Well, once I'm there I'll have IHSS person driving me around and we can see about trying to expedite it. I know I'll be on MediCal fast anyway. It's the approval process that could get slow. I'll prepare for best case and worst case.
elialshadowpine
Jul. 2nd, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
I'll keep my fingers crossed that they'll be able to expedite it! I just wanted to mention that it could take some time since it sounded like you were betting on being able to get it pretty quickly. But, then again, you never know. Paul went down this morning to the DSHS office to apply for disability aid, and they rubber stamped him for food stamps right there. He and Storme are out shopping for food right now with the $200 EBT card they gave him. I didn't figure it would be so fast, I thought there would have to be some approval process. So hopefully you have similar luck with getting help quickly! :)
robertsloan2
Jul. 2nd, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)
Exactly. I know that I've been told I'll get rubber stamped for MediCal and food stamps automatically. One leg of that wait is out of the way just before I go. I do need a new doctor. But I'm already on SSI for the condition so I can probably get the chair ordered by my new doctor just by explaining my limits and stumping across the room so he can see my gait - if he even requires that.

Ooo! $200 food stamps? Whoohoo! Ari and I will be eating well. I can see that the organic foods that give me strength will be going into my diet on that kind of a budget. Food stamps won't be lower in SF than they are elsewhere on the Pacific Coast.

Cool cherry red hair, by the way, you look good in your latest photo.

I can relax a bit more on that now. I might want to call the Scooter Store and tell them I'm coming and will have MediCal covering it, because it's this phoning in advance that's cut a lot of the wait times already. If they know it's going to be ordered and when a month ahead of time, they might conveniently have my model in stock in my chosen color ready to deliver once the doc signs the form.

I got scared at your first post, but Plan B is worked out now. If I don't have the chair by the time I have my license, I'll get my IHSS assistant driving me to the Wharf, drive me to the setup, help me set up, hang out the first few days till I know I can do a full day and keep company if it's slow, drive me back. By the time I'm not eligible for MediCal, that job will fall to my apprentice.

About half the tasks I need help with are reasonable to ask from an apprentice street artist. In exchange I spend at least an hour of the day we're together coaching him/her in how to draw people and landmarks in a salable style and judge when they're skilled enough a tourist will shell out cash.
bugeyedmonster
Jul. 8th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: the food stamps
A friend of my mom's had to apply for food stamps for her maternity leave. (Said leave was unpaid, and her hubby's job wasn't enough for everything.) They got the food stamps right away, and the lady at the Human Services office told her that they have a certain $$ amount for 'emergency' food stamps. So her whole leave was covered by the emergency food stamps.

Just thinking that might be why they got food stamps right away.

Hey, it's more than here in Texas! For a single person it's $50. (Or at least that's what my uncle said. He said you get more if you have kids.)
robertsloan2
Jul. 8th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: the food stamps
It varies per state. Texas doesn't surprise me. Some states don't really give enough for a person to actually get all their food on even if they're frugal. California has a good system though.

That's great for your mom's friend's maternity leave. It's vital for a pregnant woman to get good nutrition, she was in a tough spot as many working couples face if one of them's got unpaid leave.

From what IHSS said, I should be into the system with good speed from the point I get my intake appointment. I had a home visit intake appointment in Minnesota and it took six months to actually get that appointment - but I wasn't on SSI then. Once I had the appointment, then I got everything I qualified for.

So that's the big thing - how soon the intake appointment is. The big wait in Minnesota was to actually get a home visit because I could not go down to their office to apply, being housebound.
robertsloan2
Jul. 8th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: the food stamps
That was the longest I had to wait for anything I actually got.

Colorado, a friend helped me navigate the local benefits. I got food stamps right away, a far more generous amount than Texas, also got medical coverage and an emergency supplementary income. Because I was staying in the second mobile home she owned, she only charged me 1/3 of my actual income for rent so I had some pretty hefty spending money left for art supplies and other things.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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