03 April 2015

"Why does it smell like the homeless?"

This is one of things that you don't ever hear about when people who used to be homeless find "permanent housing". Life is supposed to return to normal, to stabilize. It's not always the case that this just happens.

Yesterday I left my apartment, turned left towards the door leading to the stairs, and saw a handwritten sign on the fire door that read "why does it smell like the homeless?" [sic]

I recognized the handwriting as my landlord's. Which (to me) is really, really disturbing. It sounds like something a 4 year old would ask. It's potentially offensive, since I used to be homeless. It really doesn't make sense to me, that a landlord would post something like this in his own building-- what's his point?

Ok, I know what it might mean-- that something doesn't smell quite right, and this is his (really weird) way of trying to tell his tenants to make the offending thing go away. The normal way would be to call or email or otherwise notify a particular tenant that something smells rotten in the state of Denmark and would you please fix the problem. 

It's probably my stuff. It's painful to talk about, but it's probably my clothes,  books, boxes, etc. I've been fighting off being sick for a few weeks now, and at the same time gradually moving stuff into my apartment from my storage unit. My nose is stopped up (sorry if that's TMI), so if stuff doesn't smell right I probably can't tell.

Things that have been in a storage unit all winter (or in the case of some things, much longer) tend to smell a little musty. I get it.

Clothes that a person wears while they're living on the street tend to pick up some the smells of the street, and that's not always a pleasant thing. It's unavoidable, and it's socially devastating, and as I'm discovering, it doesn't wash out very easily. I get that too. Unfortunately, I can't just throw out and replace every piece of clothing I wore while I was sleeping on the street. 

I'm honestly afraid to call and ask Landlord wtf. During the Great Rent Incident a few weeks ago, I ended up screaming into my phone at the guy to convince him to take my rent payment. I don't want to go through that again.

There's also the note that was written on the 5-day notice I received that said, in the same handwriting as the note on the fire door, "You smell. Take a shower. It is that bad." I ignored it at the time, probably selectively, but also because I was more worried about getting the rent paid so I could continue to have a place to live.

Now, with the notice on the door, things make sense. It's a really twisted way for things to make sense. 

I'm not proud of having been homeless. I don't wear it like a badge of honor. I'm proud of myself for surviving it. That's all. 

There  is an olfactory toll that the street takes. I'm not proud of that either. Catch me on the wrong day when I'm wearing a tshirt that I wore during the worst of being on the street (which has been washed regularly since) and you might notice it. I don't know, actually. If it's there I can't tell, probably because after so long I'm probably just conditioned to it. That doesn't mean I like it or accept it. 

It's also hard to keep track of taking care of myself in general because of the PTSD, the depression, the anxiety, and all of the fun associated symptoms. There are some days when I'm honestly doing pretty well just get my ass dressed and out of my apartment. It's possible that the one day I passed Landlord in the hallway a month or two ago was a really bad day.

That I'm essentially off of my psych meds doesn't make leading a normal life any easier. It might sound like I don't give a shit, but that's not correct. I really do care about taking care of myself. It's like all things when PTSD is involved, some days are better than others.

In trying to decipher Landlord's secret code, though, it all starts to make sense.

Now I start to wonder if this is why Landlord hasn't managed to get me any lease renewal paperwork. It's already apparent (and it really doesn't matter) that Landlord doesn't like me, and the feeling is mutual. Here's the thing, though-- if he's stonewalling on renewing my lease because he doesn't like my personal appearance, it might be a legal issue. It's illegal in my city to discriminate against someone (not rent to them) based on personal appearance.

I don't want to look (or smell) like a homeless person-- I don't want to be perceived as a homeless person-- because there's nothing positive about that perception. It's not anything I aspire to.

It's also not fair, and the law says so, to refuse to rent to someone because they look pretty rough. I am not a lawyer. I am educated though, and my research says that filing a complaint with the city might be the right thing to do. I'm going to talk to someone from the city later today to see what options I might have.

Out of all of this what do I want? To have a place to live, and to be left alone.same things everyone else wants.

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