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Numbers/Cost of Living

March 2022 NOTE:

This text was written in late 2021, before inflation began to rise. My food costs have, as of March 28, 2022, increased 30%. My income, which as a homeless person is all of $343 monthly, is not sufficient to cope with these costs. Homelessness is a trap. Resources are the path out.

The fundraising goal of $35,000 should be adjusted upwards to match rising costs, yet, and I’d like to emphasize this point — the goal of my fundraiser is to return to living. The specific overall amount is less important than what it buys, namely, security and a future.


(Originally Posted July 28, 2021. Minor edits for clarity, March 28, 2022.)

Note – Presenting these numbers is a bit of a challenge. Starting from nothing is expensive. The minimum cost of my return to housing as I’d like it to be starts with first and last month’s rent.

After moving in, the important factor is stability. I am terrified at the prospect of becoming housed again, only to fall back into homelessness for lack of work and income.

The cost of living numbers I’m using are from July, 2021. I’ll continue to use them for a while seeing the costs in grocery stores continue to edge upwards. Hopefully they’ll stabilize by the end of the year.

Numbers as of July, 2021 – Source: www.numbeo.com

Quick Summary:

$6,834 is my before-tax minimum cost of moving into a 1-bedroom apartment in Toronto.

$34,624 ($6,834 [start-up costs] + $27,790 [10 additional months of expenses] is the approximate minimum cost of living for one year.

My criteria for a return to housing is a one bedroom apartment, outside of downtown and near a subway station. This includes internet access, and a cell phone. It also includes a bed, a kitchen table, and a desk. These items can be sourced fairly cheaply from IKEA, or other budget retailer. Second hand furniture is out of the question due to risk of bed bugs.

Moving into an apartment in Toronto requires an up-front payment of First & Last month’s rent. Using those two months as a guide, I’ve listed the minimum base cost as two months expenses. Seeing I’m starting from nothing, that will include start-up costs for items such as utensils, dishes, pots, pans, a bed, a table, and other items.

I’ve used figures including the cost of rent, groceries, phone, etc. My aim is to balance my needs against overall costs. That’s to say I have given a lot of thought to the value and importance of the items I’ve listed.

The numbers, as I’ve written, are crowd-sourced and are averaged by numbeo.com. Fairly accurate from what I’ve seen.

*

Below I abstract the figures around moving into a 1-bedroom apartment. More detailed figures are farther down the page. Costs of bedding, pots and pans, etc, are based on low-middle range examples. Costs of miscellany include average price of condiments, spices, etc.

*

Minimum Start-Up Costs:

Rent – First & Last

2 x $1,800 – Low-Mid Average Cost of 1-bed Apartment as of July, 2021

$3,600

Groceries – (2 Months)

2 x $568 – as of July, 2021

$1,136

Utilities – (2 Months)

2 x $165 – Calculated for 85 square feet, as of July, 2021

$330

Misc. Consumables – (2 Months, Start-Up)

1 x $43 – Grooming, Hygiene, Laundry Soap, etc.

$43

Textiles – (Start-Up)

1 x $150 – Bedding, Towels, Dish Cloths, etc.

$150

Internet Access – (2 Months)

2 x $75 – Budget Network Access Provider

$150

Transit Pass – (2 Months)

2 x $156 – As of July, 2021

$312

Phone – (2 Months)

2 x $15 – Least Expensive Phone Plan

$30

Kitchenware – (Start-Up)

$575 – Coffee Maker, Pots, Pans, Dishes, Can Openers, etc.

Furniture – from IKEA

Kitchen Table – LERHAMN

$130

Twin Bed – Frame & Mattress

$79 – Frame – NEIDEN

$199 – Mattress – MORGEDAL

Writing Desk

$130 – MALM

Totalling:

$6834, before tax – this is the approximate start-up cost to move into a 1-bedroom apartment.

In calculating the ten months additional to the first two start-up months, I’ve used these same numbers, minus the start-up costs around bedding and kitchenware.

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Creative Targets

Over the past few days I sought and found an Amazon delivery box to change into a container for my rice cooker. I lost it once, having to climb into a recycling dumpster to retrieve it. Today I went to work on it at Harrison Baths. Unsatisfactory is the only word to describe the result.

The problem, of course is a combination of things. Work-surface (the end of a bench, at bench height), less tape than I would like (for weather proofing), and, as always, time.

Constructing these isn’t very difficult, but along with space and resources to work, it takes some forethought and planning. Time and conditions are relevant factors. Figuring out how to fold the material while maintaining dimensions correct both internal and external requires a little finesse. And luck, but that’s also affected by factors.

The main thing about making these — or buying a new set of Tupperware, or new durable shopping bags, or any of the other items I use daily in my homelessness, is that it’s more than a just solution to an immediate problem. It’s an investment in a future which assumes continued homelessness.

Years ago, a volunteer I’d chatted with at a meal program saw me in the street. He greeted me, asking how I was. The answer I gave him encapsulates the reality of an institutionalized mind, a homeless mind. I said, “I was homeless yesterday, I’m homeless today, and I’ll be homeless tomorrow.” That is the truth of homelessness. Eventually, the future is your adversary.

My time homeless has spanned the years a person would normally build a career, a life, a history of their experiences, memories, which I’d argue are the brickwork of identity. Time, when it becomes your adversary, forces escape. Oblivion, nostalgia, anger, violence — there are many ways to run from an intractable foe. My own escape has been to attack time on it’s own terms. Whether by delving into fictionalized versions of the lives of Roman Emperors, the lives of real, living legends, or galaxies of imagined, extrapolated futures, my escape has been a fight, and a search for meaning, guided by curiosity.

My curiosity finds in history human meaning. It is made of stories, our past. No matter where on earth we are from, or where we are, our lives are the result of a long process of change, and growth, and evolution. People are what make the world, and people are living and telling the stories which make our history.

Periodically, I remember that spices were prized, of staggering value. These are items we now take for granted. Pepper, salt, these are considered staples, and bland staples at that. Items like these were instrumental in conjuring the institutions our world was built upon, the institutions we take for granted as inevitable, natural, normal.

(Wish I could spend time polishing this.)