Cynthia takes her meals at the shelter often. She’s a single Mom with a teen-age son. Her shoes were obtained from the shelter.
What is your biggest struggle with poverty on a daily basis?
“It’s dealing with Ontario Works (welfare). I misplaced a statement from them. I had a job and my earnings were deducted from what I received from them. My son worked too. After the deductions, we didn’t have enough money for our rent. There used to be a Rent Bank under the housing support program that would assist people but it’s no longer. Now, I’m trying to play “catch-up”. Trying to cut costs everywhere to make ends meet so we’re not tossed out on the street.”
What would you like people to know about living in poverty?
“More needs to be done to help people living in poverty. City council needs to address the lack of housing. There’s trouble with the system, for sure! There needs to be more awareness of mental health issues, as well.”
“I try to be an advocate for poverty awareness. I spoke with Lisa Gretsky (MPP- member of provincial parliament for Windsor West) to let her know the system isn’t perfect. You get a job and you’re cut off. Then, you get behind in rent. The Rent Bank is now called HSP, Housing Support Program. If the HSP gave you last month’s rent, they won’t help you with any arrears. There’s a tribunal but how’s that help in the meantime?”
“I’d like there to be more affordable housing for people on social assistance. We get less income than those on disability. Why is that? There should be more programs to help people budget; and for people with addictions. They need help, too.”
“I work part-time at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and my son is a dishwasher at a restaurant. He has special needs. He makes more than I do! But, he’s got his own issues. His income wasn’t reported on time and we got cut off temporarily.”
“Our apartment building has black mold. It’s all I can afford. I just want our landlord to work with me while I try to pay the arrears. Not to kick us out of our place. I’m trying my best.”
“But, from all of my experience living in poverty, I just want to say there’s still hope. Get yourself educated. Get a grant to go to school. Set a date to register for programs. I plan to enroll in business and my boyfriend is looking to enroll in the HVAC program for heating, ventilation and Air conditioning. Never lose hope.”