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A cousin is homeless
Old 11-26-2015, 11:08 AM   #1
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A cousin is homeless

Upsetting thing going on in my extended family. I got a call from a much younger female cousin who said she needed $290 to pay a week in advance at a Day's Inn. I said I will this once, how do I get it to you? She needed it by the next morning, so we decided that I would pay her bill directly to the desk clerk. But he wanted a lot of information from me beyond my CC info, so I got my cousin back on the phone and told her that we would have to try something else. I called my sister who lives in the same city as the cousin to see if she could cover the week and I would reimburse her. Well she told me that this cousin has been living off family members for quite some time, but she had been unable to get employment after losing her job months ago. She had been living in a woman friend's basement, but the woman's boyfriend told her that either cousin must get out, or he would. Hostess decided that she needed boyfriend more than my cousin, so cousin's stuff wound up out in the yard. So this is where I came in.

Sister and I talked a while, and sister said that all the solvent family members had been trying to get now homeless cousin to apply for disability, housing assistance, etc but that she had been dragging her feet.

Sister bawled her out for trying to involve me, 2500 miles away, and I figured that would be that. Next day I got an im- "I'll be at the new hotel in an hour, and I'll call you then". I had decided not to mess up the tough love that my other cousins had been trying to establish, and also to save myself some money and grief, so I texted her that I could not help.

Meanwhile, I am pretty upset. This woman had always worked, but spent too much on travel, expensive apartment and so on. I felt mixed. She was not someone who turned her back on work, but she did overspend and apparently let herself become unemployable.

I told her no, that she had to get public assistance if she was tapped out.

She signed herself into a general hospital psych ward. Everyone hopes that a good social worker will place her and get the assistance applications going. She is too weird to survive long on the street.

In recapping with my sister, I learned that my Dad and his brother had been helping her now dead mother for years, after aunt got divorced and had poor representation. Though aunt kept the children, former hubbie walked off with much of what was left left of aunt's inheritance, and he never paid child support or maintenance. Meanwhile he was sailing in Long Island Sound summers and the Virgin Islands winters. He is now dead also. They were fairly old when they adopted cousin and her brother who is a bigger disaster than she is, but he is also a very unsympathetic character and is able bodied to do labor jobs. He has mostly kept himself together doing farm and construction labor

This newly homeless cousin has always been generous, not only with herself but with her derelict brother's children and others. She is in no way a bad person, just really lacking in sense and unable to say no.

She is the third woman that I have known or know who blew through an adequate inheritance and had no savings to speak of.

Family members and friends can make suggestions and have done so, but we really have no control over self-destructive financial behavior.

Still, it makes me feel awful.

Ha
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:21 AM   #2
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Well she told me that this cousin has been living off family members for quite some time, but she had been unable to get employment after losing her job months ago.

She is the third woman that I have known or know who blew through an adequate inheritance and had no savings to speak of.

Ha

Tough situation, but with the economy flourishing (unless you are in oil and gas), there should be plenty of jobs to be had, even low paying ones. Why is she "unemployable"?

(BTW, if you knew my ex, she would have been #4 on your list)
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:25 AM   #3
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...
Still, it makes me feel awful.

Ha
Understandable. Sad story, but it reminds me that most homelessness isn't so much an economic issue, it is often a mental/addiction issue (you mentioned the psych ward). And though it might seem like the 'kind' thing to do, it is unlikely that throwing money at this will help anything, and in fact might just delay her getting the help she needs.

People on this forum in particular, are the type to take the reigns and try to be in control. And these are issues where we feel totally out of control. It makes us feel helpless, and awful.

Hopefully, she gets the help she needs. Probably the best thing you can do is to try to see that she does follow through, but that's probably difficult/impossible to do from a distance, or even nearby.

Sorry, no real advice, just a little empathy I guess.

-ERD50
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:27 AM   #4
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Most peoples problems can be identified by looking in the mirror... After my many years of being a landlord, it has been confirmed many times.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:37 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear this. It's easy to dismiss those that are homeless or "down on their luck", but when it involves someone your know or is family, it is hard to swallow. I too have a cousin that although isn't homeless, he's always VERY close. I have tried to help him in the past, but I have determined that it's a lost cause. It's sad and it makes me sad, but I can't save the world, and I can't save someone who can't or won't help themselves. There are plenty of resources available to folks, so try not to beat yourself up too much about it.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:52 AM   #6
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Sadly there for the grace....

You can't fix it, nor cause it. Truly unfortunate that happens to be the path some need to take. So sad to watch folks struggle but helping becomes enabling.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:55 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the kind and supportive comments. I keep imagining my Dad, "son you can't let this happen to family."

I'm getting ready to do to a nice Thanksgiving meal with family now, and I am very thankful that I have this solidly in my life.

Ha
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:03 PM   #8
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Keep an eye on her Haha. Maybe there'll be a better time to step in and help in the future with a better expected result.

Quote:
Sadly there for the grace....
So true. We're just the result of our genes, environment and chemistry. And most of that is pure luck.
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:09 PM   #9
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What a sad story, Ha. I agree with walkinwood that perhaps there will be a time you can be helpful to her when she is ready to make the changes she needs to.
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:25 PM   #10
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You're not the only one. I am dealing with a brother. Not a bum in the true bum sense but has always been too picky about what job was good enough for him and too casual about making his future. Now of course he's 60 and can't get a job, has no money, and has found out that people can't simply "Go on welfare" when the need arises. I have been shoveling money the past few years for him to keep his medical insurance because he came down with a medical condition. he's on medicaid now but has no money for anything else like rent.

I could see this coming 30 years ago. Like Senator said, the source of most people's problems can be found in the mirror (and from not listening to me when I lecture them!)

But he's a brother. "Let 'em die?" I cannot afford to adopt any children at my age so i don't want him moving in with me. he'll never leave. Most of my money is -not- so I can life the High Life it now. It is there in case I need real help 20 years from now. I will have no family members to hit up for bread. Everything I give away now is less 20 years from now.

Today however, I am thankful that I live 1300 miles away from the problem
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:31 PM   #11
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Understandable. Sad story, but it reminds me that most homelessness isn't so much an economic issue, it is often a mental/addiction issue
-ERD50

Yes. I have a lifelong friend, we were college roommates for two years back in the 60's, who is constantly on the fringes of homelessness. He's a Mensa member, a brilliant writer, can't tolerate "working" without an extreme negative attitude and is a financial idiot. After years of trying, I've determined there is nothing I can do, nothing. And there is no point of either condoning or blaming him. It just is what it is...........

Hang tough Ha. These situations tug at your sense of responsibility and your heart strings but involvement seldom helps long term.
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Old 11-26-2015, 02:25 PM   #12
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Sorry to hear about your cousin, too often when we think we may be helping someone we are in fact facilitating poor behavior. It does pull on the heart strings when you see people go through tough times through no fault of their own and when people go through tough times due to their own bad behavior, not so much.
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Old 11-26-2015, 03:01 PM   #13
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understand completely.... have same situation with nephew. I came to the conclusion that he's not going to change and as far as my influence, 'you can't push a rope'. All that can be done is to hope for the best and keep caring... not enabling, just caring.
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Old 11-26-2015, 03:44 PM   #14
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That is a really sad story. I wish I had some advice to give, but it's not possible to step in and fix someone else's life unfortunately. I hope that the hospitalization helps her to get back on her feet at least as much as possible.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:03 PM   #15
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Wow. Does your story resonate. I have a relative who divorced, went through his inheritance, and is now down to an apartment owned by the family. Thank God for that cheap apartment, because I don't want him to move in with us.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:22 PM   #16
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Sorry to hear about your cousin . I am a big believer in tough love but I also believe in giving some help first so I would probably give the cousin $500 to $1000 when she gets on her feet and no more .
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:13 PM   #17
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Sorry to hear about your cousin . I am a big believer in tough love but I also believe in giving some help first so I would probably give the cousin $500 to $1000 when she gets on her feet and no more .
It's so hard to know how to help. With some people, if they get on their feet (a small job, etc) and then got $500 from a friend, they'd stop going to work until the money ran out.
HaHa, best wishes as this moves ahead. Regarding what your Dad would think--he'd probably know that you aren't letting it happen (she is), and that there's really no way to know what will help or hurt from the info you've got.
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:17 PM   #18
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We went through unemployment and homelessness with my stepson. He was a product of 20 years of smoking pot, bad work habits, and he burned his bridges with an old employer who'd attempted to help him with re-hab.

Sometimes it takes hitting the bottom before one sees what they have is just not that bad. He's since remarried and doing okay--back with his original employer.

In most states, there is very little help to be found. Public assistance for the most down and out consists of $300 food stamps and Section VIII housing with a long waiting list. And so many unemployable are not eligible for Social Security Disability that requires you to be missing 2 legs or some horrendous problem before approval. And even then, they'll turn you down 2 times and you'll have to get an attorney.

Life's not always so fair. Let's be thankful for everything we have--including early retirement if you're in that situation.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:33 AM   #19
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That is a tough situation to be in HaHa. It sounds like your sister has some good advice. It makes sense for the cousin to be expected not to just apply but apply and exhaust all public assistance options before turning to relatives for financial aid. That is what those programs are there for. SS disability is hard to qualify for but not impossible if she has legitimate health or mental issues.

I saw on a different forum homeless people were applying for financial aid for college with housing as a part of the cost of attendance, which solves the immediate housing issue and maybe the long term issue as well if they really stick with it and get a marketable degree.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:48 AM   #20
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Always a hard situation and most families have at least one such story.

What I've come to believe over my past half century+ is that the trap people fall into is thinking that everybody wants the same thing out of life.

We see people down on their luck and want to help. What we don't see is the choices that got them into that position. Not everyone, but many people have taken the path less traveled only to find them as dead ends.

Our family has our own group who'd rather sit on a crappy couch in a crappy public housing apartment eating Cheetos for dinner and quite happy as long as the HBO keeps streaming. They're openly unwilling to get any kind of real job ("too much like work") while they show off their latest tattoos and rely on the dwindling group of relatives keep the bill collectors at bay.

There are people who simply don't care to live a life where the bills are paid, the house is clean and the car is reliable. It's just not a priority. If YOU want to supply it to them, fine, but if they have to get up at 6AM and go to work for it....not so much.
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