*Billy’s story is told with his consent and encouragement.
When Blu graduated and moved from being head of our Nutrition Program to our Peer Support Specialist, there was a void to fill, but luckily, Billy had just started volunteering with us! That was over 8 months ago now, and he’s been here, every day, cooking the most delicious food that anyone has tasted. He’s famous for his sauces, gravies, meatloaf, potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, ribs, tuna cakes, bean soup, saffron rice- actually, he’s famous for everything he cooks.
Billy turned 50 this week and held a huge lunch party where he made all of his favorite foods- ribs, roast with potatoes and carrots, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, Billy Beans and stewed cabbage with ham bones. It was DELICIOUS!
Something that people don’t know about Billy, is that he’s an unhoused person, and has been since 1997. He gets disability because of a terrible work accident that left him partially blind, but it’s not enough to get him any housing. He’s been up for section 8 housing twice, and both times could not find an apartment that passed inspection. Around 8,000 people receive section 8 vouchers, but there are only about 2,000 available units in Raleigh. It’s a tough time to be a disabled person who sleeps in the park.
Billy gets about $800/month in disability benefits. The difference between Billy being housed and not is a part-time job that he can do that doesn’t take away his benefits, as he as also been hit by a bus once and a car recently. He works here at Love Wins like it is his full-time job. He is treated as staff, however, we haven’t been able to pay him. We want to change that. We want to provide a salary for Billy and find an apartment or living situation that costs no more than $500/mo. that is on a bus line so that he can get around. These shouldn’t be lofty goals, but they seem to be these days.
In Billy’s ideal world, his housing would be safe and quiet. He keeps to himself and likes to keep his things tidy and in good condition. Billy has mastered the art of keeping things safe and in good condition outdoors- he could teach a class on it. It would be manageable with his current disability income plus an additional income if he could have that. As Hugh said to me yesterday on the phone “If someone can keep themselves so together living outside, if they had an apartment, they could rule the world!”
Billy has never asked for anything, but he really wants a job. Here is what I propose: can we raise a salary for Billy? Even just $100/week would make it so that Billy would have a chance to be able to be housed at current market value somewhere. If we could raise $400/mo. to be able to provide that for him, it could only go up from there. He can’t make more than $800/mo. without losing his disability, and right now, that’s a really important factor.
I’ve started the paperwork, and we may have to ask the Universe for forgiveness instead of permission. If you would like be a monthly contributor towards our Nutrition Program and a salary for Billy, please click here, and don’t hesitate to leave us a note!!! We want to know that you support Billy, our nutrition program, and creating a salary and housing that directly affects one person that you really do know. We can end homelessness for one person this month. I believe it.
*Billy is one of my closest friends. If you know of an apartment, house, or living situation that is safe, clean and quiet, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I want the best for our Billy, and I want him to not be sleeping in that park anymore.