Homelessness Has Him House Hunting; Hounds of Hell at Heels

In last Cinco de Mayo’s post Moving A Dude’s Abode and Body: A Buddhist View, I ruminated on what it means to have to go live somewhere else. Two abodes later, and I’m having to do it again, as I alluded in my previous post about Mark Cavendish. Who, by the way, put a cherry on the cake and made it four wins in eight stages at the Tour of Turkey. The alternative is homelessness, or more accurately, houselessness, both of which, like the hounds of hell, bite big time. What’s a dude to do? Well, keep on searching, for one thing. And write a blog about it for a little anger management and stress relief, for another.

A Dude’s future? Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The search has been physical, biking around looking for signs. That’s the old school way older folks do it without the internet. Mostly, it’s digital: Craigslist, Next Door, emailing friends, etc. Some of the comments from spammers and scammers that I get are not very encouraging, to say the least. It might make for amusing reading for some, but to me it’s a pretty painful process to put myself out there and get back lines like, “Are you still looking?” Well, duh, that’s why I have an ad. Or, “I have a place, tell me your personal email so I can provide you with all the details.” Uh, no. That’s why CL has anonymous emails, to prevent people getting your information and selling it. My favorite is when I ask where their house is and they tell me but their name doesn’t match the public database of homeowners. When I call them on it, they scurry for the cracks in the wall like the scumbag cockroaches they are. Damn roaches, I say!

The problem here is actually worldwide, and not just particular to me, but my getting kicked to the curb comes at a bad time. Not to mention the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, but Austin is in the middle of a big fight about homelessness. There’s an amendment to the city law on the upcoming ballot May 1 to ban camping. Last year the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that made it ok to be poor. But now there’s been a ballot initiative that will probably pass, because housed people are sick of being made to look at poor people. Piles of trash accumulate, there’ve been a few fires, and of course folks beg at street corners. This would re-criminalize living outside for the 5,000-10,000 or more people who have erected campsites all over town. And if it doesn’t pass, the Governor said he’ll step in and make sure homeless people are punished further for their sins.

What they need is housing, and the City, while generally progressive, has taken years and done very little to solve the problem. Which is mostly about addiction, mental illness, so throwing people with those issues in jail is not going to do anything. Or shipping them off to the Governor’s failed campsite which is not near anything. But can you guess the main reason why people are on the street? Unemployment, or if there is a job, low wages and high rent. Which brings me back to me. I’m in this donut hole of eligibility where I can’t qualify or afford a regular apartment, but I also don’t qualify for assistance, even at my advanced age. Or maybe I would, if there weren’t long waiting lists for subsidized housing. And the reason for this high demand is 137 people A DAY move to Austin.

Who are these people, and where are they coming from, and why? Well, I’ll tell you. The Californians. (Also a hilarious recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live.) The housing market here in Austin, Texas is insane due to all the Californian high-tech computer nerds wanting to move here. And they come with their First World money, which buys a lot more. A house around the corner allegedly was going to sell for one MILLION dollars, but then it went up another $300K in two days! Too rich for my poor blood, for sure. For the last 21 years, I’ve never paid too much for housing, except the one time I had an apartment, back when I had a job. I even stayed under the stairs in a converted laundry room for extremely cheap rent for a year. (I checked, that place is a storage closet now.)

I know what you’re thinking, “Why don’t I just go get a job?” Well, there is this pandemic thing you may have heard of, and with variants, anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers, and without herd immunity, it’s still not safe. Also, it’s pretty competitive out there, even if I were a high-tech computer nerd. (Spoiler alert: I’m not!) There are other obstacles, too. Lastly, I still have this dream of publishing my book, earning money from this blog, and doing other writing for pay, which I could not do while stuck in an office risking the plague. But seriously, someone needs to start showing me the money for my excellent blog writing, and give me an advance on my memoir of biking 10,000 miles in two years.

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

Meanwhile, most jobs I could get do not pay a living wage. Many people, especially of color and lower income, have had to flee the central city for the suburbs for less costly housing. Nothing wrong with that — if you want to sit in traffic and pollute an hour each way every day and live in a boring place with no culture and they roll up the carpet at 8 pm. (I do not.) So yeah, a crappy job isn’t the answer. Generating multiple income streams is. I’m working on geting rich quick, but the lottery ticket checking machine keeps telling me “NOT A WINNER.” I’m starting to believe it.

There’s always sanctioned camping, with showers, bathrooms and wifi at the KOA. But it costs $36 a night — almost as much as a motel. It’s fixin’ ta git real hot down hea’ anyway — it is Texas. So I’ll keep looking at Craigslist and trying to weed out the weed smokers, fake owners, yappy dogs, and basically people who could be my children, if I had any. I’ve put the word out to friends, but most of them don’t know anyone renting. Maybe it’s time I decamped from Austin. Maybe I could become a digital nomad and work from anywhere — like a bestselling author does. (Yeah, right!) Maybe I could finally find a sugar mama. Reminds me of that Van Halen song (RIP Eddie VH), Beautiful Girls:

She had her toes in the sand
and her drink in her hand...
Here I am, ain't no man of the world, no
All I need is a beautiful girl, what a beautiful girl.

On that note, I better get back to reality. Virtually one is really helping me, so I better figure something out fast. Maybe I should get a touring bike and go visit all my blogging friends. Wouldn’t that be cool? First I’d need a new body. Aside from that and the money to pay for such a trip, I’m there! I hope you’re warm and comfy in your abode, whatever and wherever it may be. Be grateful you have one, if you do. To end on a twisted but positive note, these homeless camps are where a lot of stolen bikes end up. So maybe I could get one with more than nine gears. You gotta look for the silver lining in the dark clouds, right? A roof, floor and walls are nice, but if you’re homeless you are closer to nature…

Homeless, homeless
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake
Homeless, homeless
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake
Said we are homeless, we are homeless
The moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake
And we are homeless, homeless, homeless
The moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake

Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala, “Homeless,” from the album Graceland

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8 thoughts on “Homelessness Has Him House Hunting; Hounds of Hell at Heels

  1. Damn. Good luck with the search. The housing sales and rental market is crazy here at the moment too. Huge lines whenever a rental opens up and landlords can take their pick, with people offering to pay over the asking RENT price to secure a roof over their heads. If you do manage to cycle tour your way to Tasmania, I’ve got plenty of land you can camp on (or the spare room, your choice).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, mate! That does sound crazy. Souch for the pandemic. Just met an Aussie on his bike, asked what his rent was. For a box surrounded by concrete though in a good area. You know what they say, if you have to ask, it’s too much!

      Liked by 1 person

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