“I didn’t think I was ever going to get out”
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – April Metts is handling the interview well until I ask about her experiences out on the street.
Metts, 39, has been in affordable housing for two and a half years and had just told us that she is very happy where she is and “can never go back to being homeless again.”
But when I ask about what homelessness was like for her when she was out on the streets for two years. within moments she breaks down.
“I was so hopeless, so afraid,” Metts said, her voice faltering. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get out.”
Her lip quivers and she is rendered speechless as she tries to wipe away the tears that are running faster than she can mop them up. The wound that I have reopened is simply too raw, too painful for her to bear.
“I’m sorry,” she apologizes, though it is entirely my fault. “I’m sorry. I just can’t go back there.”
When Metts regains her composure, she says that the apartment she got through affordable housing program Housing First has changed her life.
“I feel lucky to have this opportunity,” she said. “Now I want a better job with a 401(k). If I can get this far I can go further.”
Metts has a job at a coffee shop, but has just had her weekly hours cut to 20 from 32. Under the Housing First program, a third of her income goes toward to rent and her rent has been cut in line with her wages.
“I need to find a better job,” she said. “But I’m going to stick with this one until I do.”
In the meantime, she loves having a place to call her own, which she shares with her two-year-old son Jamar.
“I like it because it’s mine and no one can tell me what to do, when to go to bed or when to leave,” Metts said.