Covid made me Homeless

Covid made me Homeless

I need help. I am living in a hotel with my children, 10 and 13. We do homework and play and sleep on this king-sized bed in this hotel room. 

To keep our spirits up, we’re visualizing and drawing pictures of our dream home. Lylah drew a rug at the end of her bed. Jermaine drew a baseball comforter on his bed – he plays on a travel team. When he saw Lylah’s LED lights strung around her room, he added his own.

So you see we still have hope. It is for them that I am asking for help.

I won’t blame Covid as the sole reason for my troubles. I had separated from my children's' father, and was dealing with depression. But Covid put the icing on the cake. 

In March, as the pandemic spread, I was in a volatile household. Being forced into isolation in this home was intolerable. I am self-employed, cleaning houses, and my clients didn't want to add to their risk of Covid, so I had no work. Home is supposed to be a safe place, but it wasn't. Domestic violence is an old story in my family. I once had a beer bottle broken over my head and I’ve suffered through things so terrible I cannot talk about them. Perhaps even worse than the physical abuse was the psychological abuse. I did not want my kids to live like that. 

We moved into this hotel in August, thinking it would be a short-term solution. I paid for a month, which came out to $49 a night. If paid by the week, it’s $59 and by the night: $74. 

Since then, I have been juggling bills and slowly spiraling down. I even called the Hillsborough County Sheriff on myself. They called shelters, even in neighboring counties. No one had enough beds for me and the kids. The officer ended up paying for one night in the hotel for us. County funds set aside for those hurt by Covid are for back rent, not hotel rooms.  I have pawned and borrowed and begged. Last week, my car battery died, then my tire went flat, and I had no money for gas to get back to the hotel. Last night, my car was repossessed. 

I’ve paid for the room through Oct. 21. After that, I don’t know what I’ll do. When I get overwhelmed with fear of how I’ll keep going for my kids, I go in the bathroom and turn on the shower, so they won’t hear me cry. 

I’ve never had to ask before, so this is difficult.

But I need to be there for my kids. I need a car that runs. I need money to insure and tag it. I need somewhere to live. I need to pay the first and last months and security deposit for an apartment. 

If you’ve never worried about how you’ll pay for a safe bed for your children to sleep in, thank your God.

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Shenika Zunich
Tampa, FL

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