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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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News

3/21/2022

Highlights first, then some detail.

Fundraiser is active and I need your help. All donors are welcome.

My fundraising goal, when I started this process, was about $35,000. That figure represented one year’s security, housed, off the street. The dollar amount now, due to factors related to global events, is higher. For that reason, I’ll describe my fundraising goals more loosely. First, a note on why I’ve chosen the cost of one full year as the bare minimum for success.

One year is not a long time to build a life. Yet it might be just long enough to get started rebuilding one.

In that time I plan to apply to university, work, generate income, and make a return to life and living.

Today, my fundraising goal is the figure that will keep me housed for one year, regardless the specific number – $40,000 or $400,000, whatever it takes to get me housed for one year, that is the fundraising goal. Key to success in this endeavour is that it happen quickly. Otherwise, I’m only some kind of bizarre character whose ongoing misery is being sponsored by people viewing from the sidelines, for a one-time fee.

While my needs are primarily financial I also have a need for therapy. My physical health is good. Mentally, I am not well. Bitter and frustrated, I need to heal the damage caused by grinding long-term traumatic stress, sleep deprivation, social isolation, and the destruction of my sense of self. It’s a complex picture, wholistically, yet achievable with help.

Those are the highlights, in brief.

Thank you for your time, and your donations.

Donations can be made via my GoFundMe, or through my Ko-Fi page.

Instagram: (strictly homeless content) @homeless_daily / (spam/creative) @thiswholethingislame

For your convenience, here is an excerpt form my GFM:

I’ve stayed in shelters. I’ve rented a bed. I’ve applied for housing. I went door to door, mowing lawns. I’ve worked with the system, and with case workers. I’ve appealed to family. I’ve stayed with friends. I’ve been sleeping on the street for many years.

A return to housing starts with funding. Re-building a life is impossible without resources. The ground-level reality is there is no way out of homelessness without money.

Chris Leach / Homeless Since 2007

You’re already familiar with some of my story, I expect. You’ll already be aware I have a meandering, long-winded, and often absurdly convoluted way of communicating. That can be a lot of work. Clearly, you’re up to it. Good.

Time is a resource all of us possess. Our power to utilize time in ways we choose is determined by our status. As a homeless person, my time is spent, primarily, on basic survival. Conditions don’t allow for a lot of learning, goal-setting, or meaningful time management.

This reality makes any shift in living or circumstance a serious undertaking. Hence the long delay in returning to this blog.

The next post I expect to make will go into some of the factors around the re-imagining of this project. I’ll be writing about my plans around fundraising, re-housing and education and my ultimate goal of applying my experience of homelessness to making deep change to the systems destroying lives for the sin of economic failure.


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strut, cut, blood, lunch [ʊ]

(March, 2022 – Additional update on text. All donors are now welcome. Things are pretty grim.)

York U (etc.) UPDATE: I’ve looked at the resources listed at the York U website and found a couple of bright spots (though not many). I’ve not yet contacted the Financial Aid desk at York University by phone, though I believe it would be helpful. The naked facts are these — while I am homeless I will not be studying. A return to housing does not look like a realistic possibility. The fundraiser has moved very slowly, a critical problem when the amount to be raised is so large. This slow pace is due mostly to the time cost involved in pursuing donations. At the outset I knew I wouldn’t be performing for the internet in the way people find engaging (see my ‘Ronald Villiers’ Guide to Fundraising on Social Media,’ here.) My rationale, and I stand by it even now, is that homelessness is immoral and unjustifiable. It’s my position that people ought to assess my case for their donation and act according to their own beliefs.

There are only two groups of people I won’t accept donations from — high school students, and activists for human rights/social/climate justice. Everyone else is welcome to contribute. I’ll even take money from celebrities, on the condition they keep it private (I’d rather be homeless than someone’s mascot, thanks just the same).

Much of the money I’ve raised over the course of the fundraiser (500+ days at time of writing) has been spent. You could not be blamed for thinking it irresponsible of me, slowly chipping away at that money meant to be saved for housing. In response I’d ask you to put yourself in my shoes. To date, it’s meant the difference between having a rain poncho, or not; clean clothes four times a month instead of once a month; it’s meant an upgrade from ramen or tomato soup & rice every day to mini-ravioi; it’s meant the first pair of new shoes in years; it’s meant owning a phone with the same phone number for longer than a couple of months; it’s meant haircuts, health, grooming, and pain relief supplies without asking for personal credit; it’s meant a minor though meaningful reduction in daily stress. Crucially, it’s meant not going hungry every 26 or so days, and not having the shame of begging a shop owner for a meal. Of course, the pandemic took a hand in things. My expenses tripled.

That’s the most recent update. It’s December 8, 2021. It’s snowing outside. It’s getting colder and I haven’t found a winter’s jacket worth a damn. Also in need of a new pair of shoes. I don’t expect to find anything worth paying for. This is fairly typical in recent years with so many people needing to economize using thrift stores. Subsequent to higher demand, prices have gone up. Quality and volume of clothing donations has gone down as people hold onto items longer, or donate them to friends and family. It’s a cycle which puts a lot of pressure on the homeless, and others living in poverty.

Thrift stores fill a niche for consumers. They’re a useful (and perhaps inevitable) response to a need. Homelessness is not inevitable. It is not the cost of our economic system, or the price of greater prosperity. Homelessness is a result of the decision to deny people resources they need. Governments, bureaucrats, academics and policymakers decide what resources will be directed at homelessness. They have perpetuated a cruel and inhumane condition taking those decisions. We who live it are only visible as unworthy, filthy, and undeserving. Those stereotypes themselves are perpetuated by decisions made in committee rooms, by vote, by silence.

You may be one of the new generation, those who have a homeless family member. It’s not uncommon anymore. Yet they do nothing. The problem of homelessness will continue to worsen, affecting increasing numbers of people until it is impossible to ignore. Great harm will be done. Human lives will be destroyed. Real and wide-ranging problems will have become entrenched. Then they will pronounce, they will celebrate new initiatives, and cry out the mistakes of the old regime. By then it will be — as with so many other issues threatening people today — too fucking late.