Stayin' Away

root - Posted on 07 April 2003

Youth Becomes Vehicularily Housed due to HUD's One Strike Policy (preview from The Houzin PRoject Book by POOR)

by Damante Williams/PNN Youth in the Media Intern

Stayin' Away
Nite and all tha dayz
Livin where I can
But alwayz hidin from the man

It all started seven months ago. I was stayin with my auntie in Double Rock houzin Project, where I had been stayin for the last three years.It was my home.

One day in March, while the fog clung to the razor sharp cliffs behind our building, she got “the letter”. It came in one of those clean white envelopes with a little plastic window - only the worst things like tickets and court dates and eviction notices come in those kind of envelopes. 30 day notice to quit or remedy - it said , or something like that, I am not sure everything, including my eyes, filled with fear and anger and I just wanted to hurt someone.

My aunt and I both knew what it was about - we had talked about it several times. It was HUDs one-strike policy takin effect. You see HUD/ Housing Authority has a policy which states that people who have a relative or even a caregiver who has had any kind of criminal record will be evicted - just cause they have that person living with them, working for them or even visiting them. I was that person.

Now this law strikes me as kind of strange considering that poor folks who have lived in projects they whole life and have come from other poor folks who have lived in poverty they whole life inevitably have some kind of past - it’s a part of the struggle to survive - but I guess that’s the point - the "man" gets you from all sides.

So here’s me, I got into trouble when I as living with my moms and her boyfriend - cause he was sellin’ - I was only 14 - I really didn’t know there was another way - I was definitely caught up in "the life" one day it almost killed me

I was sent to Youth guidance Center - I caught a breath . My auntie offered to take me in, it was a chance in a lifetime, I had a home. For three years I was safe…I stayed in school I held down a boring slave wage job. Things were going smooth Until one strike hit - or as I call it "one deathv" -

My auntie had nowhere else to go - she is on a fixed income - she is po’ and she is disabled - there is no chance of her movin’ and I can’t put her on the street. She cried for two days when I told her my decision - but there was nothing else I could do - I been livin in my car ever since. I aint gonna lie - I got back into "the life" I guess I wasn’t that strong. Now my job is to look like I aint sleepin in my car - when I have a girlfriend I stay with her - the rest of the time I hide. I turned 18 last week.


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