Uncertainty

It's a rough morning, full of worry, overthinking, moments of panic, moments of calm and hope.

I'm trying to break down the possibilities, prepare for the worst, find a way to preserve the best.

After spending most of the night trying to decide whether to finish building my shelves or take them back, I've decided to finish building.  At the same time, I've priced out everything in the apartment to try to figure out if we could get a different vehicle if it were to be our only shelter this spring.

This morning, I started looking at what it would take as far as a time frame to lose the apartment in the case of a government shutdown.

Right now we're good until May.  The voucher will be good for the March and April rents.  We're funded federally for that.  May should be funded locally from reserves in the county.  That means the first rent that we'd be at risk of not making is June.

I suspect that should the government shut down again next week, something that I don't think the GOP wants any more than the rest of us at this point, that it would open long before the money runs out in May, and that the June checks will go out to the landlords.

If the government is shut down for more than 10 weeks (until the end of April), we have worse things to worry about than an eviction, in terms of the disaster the nation will face.  Would it ever go that far?  Who knows.  Governments collapse. Nations collapse.  Empires collapse. We all like to think it won't happen in our lifetime, but it'll happen in someone's lifetime.

I suspect that California, having an economy that is comparable to many nations in itself, may be able to put in place some safety nets for it's residents.  We saw unemployment benefits being authorized for furloughed government workers during this past shutdown.  But from where I'm sitting, I don't see a net.  I can't assume a net is there for me.

My process is to try to prepare for everything.  Write several budgets for different scenarios.  Start buying food that requires no kitchen facilities.  Perhaps buy a small grill and pots and pans that don't have plastic handles, dishes that are not breakable, and extra batteries and charging cords. At the same time, finish making our new apartment a home.

My daughter's process is to assume we'll be homeless. Hold me responsible to miraculously find the money for me to buy a van for us to live in, and stay in the area so she can keep her job while we live in the van with the dog and the cat.  Her to-do list includes harness training the cat and asking me repeatedly why I don't get a car loan.

I don't want to be an alarmist.  But I do want her to understand the possibilities, as unlikely as they seem now.

The fact of the matter is it would take between 60 and 90 days to evict for non-payment of rent here in California, if the eviction is not contested.  I'd contest it, although I'm not sure that I can hold HUD liable for failing their contract with the landlord if they don't pay the voucher for reason of government shutdown.  But I'm darn well gonna try if it comes to that.  Generally that would mean that even if the management company decided to start evictions as soon as the 5 day late period began (which would be June 5th in this county assuming the May rent would be paid), they wouldn't be able to move us out until September or October (if uncontested).  I certainly would hope that we'd have some sort of government funding back in place by then... or that we'd have saved up enough to buy a van from someone who is less prepared than we are to live on a shoestring budget.

Right now I'm working on a new budget for between now and June to optimize available funds in the case of a major economic disaster.  If that disaster never happens, we'll have an emergency fund and, perhaps, a Christmas vacation to visit family. 

A government shutdown would also mean that I'd lose some of my health insurance, Cay would lose all of hers.  We'd lose our (meager) SNAP benefits, which won't affect us as much as it would my sons, and it's possible I'd lose my lower energy costs (CARE credit) and my Lifeline Assistance phone.  I haven't even thought about LIHEAP at this point. Then of course there is the issue of tax refunds, for both Cay and myself...

There is a lot to think about.  A lot to process.

And, as of now, a whole lot of uncertainty.

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