Faces of Our Homeless: Katie and Mason
Thursday, October 13, 2016 11:14 AM
Mason is going to be Chase from Paw Patrol for Halloween and now that his mom has a low-income housing voucher it is looking good that they will be in a place of their own come Trick or Treat time.
Patrisha McLean (www.patrishamclean.com) is a photographer, writer and calligrapher. This will be her last column for a while on homeless people in our area as she embarks, at 57 and freshly divorced, on a “lose myself/find myself” journey abroad. Watch this space for dispatches.
Katie and her 4-year-old have been living at the shelter on Old County Road since late spring.
Katie moved to Boston just out of her teens to attend cosmetology school. Within a few years she went from Supercuts to charging $55 for a men’s cut at a high-end salon. “I love doing hair and I’m good at it.”
But paying a third of her salary in child support to her mother for an older son, and the other third for rent, “I was having a hard time. I should have asked for help from a family member but I wanted everyone to think I was OK and then it was too late.”
She was evicted and lived for two months in an abandoned apartment. From there it was a women’s shelter in Boston: “Thirty beds in one room, they yell and scream at you, and you have to be out at 6:30 in the morning.” And Mason could not live there with her. “Oh my God, it was the worst thing in my life. You don’t feel right when you don’t put your child to bed.”
The Hospitality House, by contrast, “is warm and welcoming. And you can get everything you need to get done, done.” That means the housing voucher, winning child support, applying for disability benefits, transferring her cosmetology license to Maine and applying for other jobs until she can cut hair again. “I’m ready to be an adult and I definitely learned a lesson. Your bills and rent and all of that are a priority. I guess I made shopping a priority.”
Her caseworker, Amy Meserole, says that in six months, “The biggest change I’ve seen in her is she is slowly trusting me and the staff more and more.” Outside of a supportive sister, “She didn’t have a lot of people in her life she could rely on, and that’s scary.”
Katie and Mason are two of 23 people living at the Hospitality House, and two of 315 currently served by the Knox County Homeless Coalition. Wraparound care identifies and fixes the circumstances that have caused a client to be homeless, to not only put them on a path to independence but keep them there. Funds are needed; please give what you can to the Knox County Homeless Coalition, P.O. Box 1696, Rockland 04841. For more information, call 593-8151 or email email@example.com.