Roller Coaster Week

Wow…what a week.

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Anthony at a recent medical exam. His vitals were better than his last visit and he has lost more than 20 pounds since the beginning of the year. Photo: Reed Sandridge

So, Anthony gets out of the hospital, we go get him checked out by his physician later that week and then we meet with Elizabeth, the rockstar social outreach worker we have been working with to help get him housing.

Elizabeth had great news. Anthony has passed the basic qualification requirements for housing. And not just any housing. Now I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity for my friend. It’s a single room – so he doesn’t have to share it with others – which is important to Anthony. Next, it’s in Columbia Heights! For those of you who are not familiar with DC this is a great neighborhood with excellent access to public transportation.

So all this sounds good right? Well, almost.

So then 4 days after we learned that Anthony passed the initial qualification screening, we get additional details which describe a bit more of the process which involves Anthony going for an in-person meeting, filling out an official application, showing proof of income, etc. Oh yeah, so it’s not free! Anthony will have to put up about a third of the rent which he is confident that he can afford with his modest salary from selling the newspaper and help that he gets from people like you. The rest of the rent is covered by the nonprofit housing organization which manages the building.

Well, Anthony wasn’t happy about waiting any more. Part of me is like, you’ve been out here on the streets for 10+ years…another couple of weeks is not going to hurt. But you know when you are so close to something that you can almost taste it – you feel like you can’t go another day.

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Anthony earlier this week. He’s been depressed because he feels the housing process is taking too long. Actually, things are moving really fast right now…hopefully he will realize this as we continue to make progress. Photo: Reed Sandridge

I met up with him on Tuesday and he was down in the dumps. He didn’t speak to me much. His face was cold and still, he looked tired, his backpack even heavier and his eyes lifeless. I tried to put things in perspective for him, but there was little I could do. He needed some time.

As for me, I have not done much writing this week. I have a good chunk of time reserved this weekend for writing so hopefully that will put me back on track. And speaking of being on track, I still haven’t slept outside with Anthony as I agreed for not reaching my April deadline. I asked him last week about trying to join him this past Tuesday. He was still manic with dreams of sleeping in his very own bed and told me, “Well that won’t work, I’ll be in my apartment by then!”

Obviously that was not the case and I need to find a new date for us to get this over with. I’m not looking forward to it but it will be good experience for me to get a taste of what Anthony has dealt with for the past decade.

I’m writing this from a crowded coffee shop in north Dupont. Watching the rain fall steadily on the concrete patio outside, my thoughts sail away to Anthony and the other homeless men, women and children who will begin searching for dry cardboard in a few hours to make their beds on the streets this evening. Keep them in your thoughts!

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