Illustration of a man speaking on the telephone with a thought bubble with a car and a rent sign in it
Carlton "Inkflow" Johnson

As we try to find a path out of the way poverty has forced us to live, we have to endure poor living conditions, coupled with job scarcity. These are tremendous reasons why we may fail.

I have been at my job since March of 2018, and it’s a struggle to hold on. And affordable housing seems not to exist. I’ve been searching for nearly two years, since before I received rapid rehousing assistance. Since before that assistance ran out.

I am looking for a second job, just to be financially qualified to find a place of my own. Between the shelter and my car, there are no other options. Going for rapid rehousing again is still an option, but if my income situation doesn’t change, I will probably still not be able to maintain the full rent after that assistance ends.

Renting a room or space from someone who is subletting is not allowed in the rapid rehousing program, I learned at a Ward 8 DEMS meeting, so that’s not an option. Either I am outgrowing the van that I live in, or I am outgrowing the stressful circumstances that keeps me confined to it. I pay bills, I vote, I pay taxes, I attend community meetings, I am a part of community organizations. How is it that I am not benefiting from these networks?

I am working hard to be an asset in my networks, a productive member of them. I am adhering to the ethical norms of society. I am becoming a product of the progress I have made. Yet here I remain, homeless.

The way I see it, there are three steps to dealing with a natural disaster: Prepare before the storm hits, regroup when you are in the eye of the storm, after you have witnessed the struggle it wrought, and rebuild after the devastation caused by the storm, after your shaken and bruised soul heals.

But for the trials and tribulations of life, we are often not given the opportunity to prepare. It’s a struggle to get to step two, to see the beauty of what could come if we can make it to the end and have the resources and opportunities to rebuild.

We who are struggling must continue to strive to thrive, with diligence, understanding and power. And we must all do what we can to support each other, as a community. 


Tyrone Chisholm is a volunteer contributor to Street Sense Media. He writes the ongoing series “Product of Progression” to show what opportunities and barriers exist for people experiencing homelessness and answer questions about the challenges he has faced, homeless, employed and enrolled in higher education in our nation’s capital. He is also willing to answer questions, which may be sent to [email protected]