Overcoming COVID-19: Finding housing and education in the height of the pandemic

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he nurse at the Patrica Handy Shelter for Women started taking our temperature and asking us if we had any symptoms. I replied no and that I didn’t have a fever. The two weeks I stayed at the shelter I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. My nerves were a mess, and I had anxiety and panic attacks. My fears became worse when listening to the news and hearing about how many people in the world died from COVID-19. It made me more nervous and on edge all the time. I stopped catching trains and buses out of fear that I would get sick or even die. We couldn’t social distance ourselves in the shelter. Quarantining was not an option. You shared a dorm with eight to ten other women, as well as the common area. This virus has consumed my life to the point where the first two months I didn’t travel anywhere from fear that someone would sneeze or cough on me. My life was spinning out of control because of this pandemic. My child took me, two months, later to pick up my glasses and eye drop medication. I just ran out of eye drop medication so it is time to pick up again. My medication for my eyes is needed twice a day for the rest of my life. Going to get it is still something of a challenge for me. I don’t drive. 

During my spring break we found out that we had to quarantine ourselves. We didn’t return to class after spring break. Our classes were to continue online. I had to drop a class due to a group project that me and some other students had to complete. The students I had to work with wouldn’t comply with communicating with each other and the project did not get completed. I did my part but I needed the whole project to get graded so instead of getting an F grade I withdrew from the class with no penalty. 

My project in my technology class also required me to do it at school on their computer—mind you we are still in quarantine at this point. My professor told me to go to the UDC main campus library because they were still open, evern though public libraries were closed. I spoke with a gentleman over the phone and explained my situation. He assured me that it was safe and only eight people had utilized the library at that point. I didn’t feel safe going to the library at that time. He explained to me that “you would be much safer in the library than in the shelter.” I was shocked and couldn’t say anything. I told him I would be there and hung up. I didn’t show up. Maybe a week later UDC main campus library was closed. My project was still due. After talking again to my professor and explaining my situation he excused me from doing the rest of my projects. He told me to concentrate on my finals and the rest of my assignments. Thank you professor. COVID-19 took the whole word by surprise. None of us expected this, but it happened. 

I wanted to give up at this point and quit school. I didn’t. The stress was too much. But something more powerful than me said you came too far to turn back now. My fears just wouldn’t let me catch the train or bus to get it done. My grades before this pandemic in technology class were at 97% on projects. Doing these projects was so much fun and so educational. They consisted of formatting, editing, designing your PowerPoint page, editing graphs and learning the basic operating system and application and so much more. 

Safe distancing was a must for me if I wanted to survive this pandemic. Going to stay with a family member is what I did. I left the shelter and slept and slept on the floor of a family member’s house for five weeks until I signed my lease on May 29. My child knew it was hard to safely distance yourself, that’s why she invited me to stay with her. 

The food was terrible. It was inedible, so I didn’t eat it. Insomnia was another problem, and developing pre-diabetes also was an issue. I developed all these issues while living there. I slept on my child’s floor for five weeks until I signed my lease. At least there I could eat properly and rest and study in peace. I moved into my own place on May 24, 2020. The real estate company I’m renting from took every precaution to make this transition safe and smooth for me and themselves. A virtual video was done so we all could be safe. Pathways to Housing and SOLID Properties done a fantastic job in addressing this challenge. A worker from my property took me personally to look at the place in early March. Thank you! My inspection was approved by virtual video. I really appreciate what Pathways staff and SOLID Properties did to make sure the move would be easy and safe for everyone involved. They made sure this move would be smooth and it was. It didn’t take long to move in, either.

School started on May 18 for summer session. I’m planning to graduate in May, 2021 from UDC, and if not I’ll graduate in the fall of 2021. I do have a class I dropped during this epidemic so we will see. I will be graduating, that you can count on!

Issues |COVID-19|Education|Family|Health, Mental|Housing

Region |Maryland|Washington DC

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