Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting Crowded...

Put on my new Che t-shirt and headed out with the dogs for a long walk. Another fantastic day here in the Foothills. In the photo above, a turkey vulture soars. We watched him for awhile as the vulture did his loops along the Ridge.

Met a new neighbor who just bought a small parcel. I guess it is inevitable in California, where millions of people are looking for a bit of legroom. It's a little different out here though: you have to have some form of steady income to survive. We get around the income question by me working part time in the Bay Area. A sacrifice to be away so much, for sure. But with careful management of money, we are able to support two adults, two children, one chicken, two dogs, two bunnies, one cat and keep two cars running--all off my part time generous income. So far, anyway.

That's one way to deal with it.

The other way is to live on disability, which many do. Same for this new neighbor. With his back payment disability check he could buy a small parcel and a camper. Of course he has plans for improvement, which generally means hauling in a bigger trailer. If he is still here in five years he might have some modular constructed. But very few acquire that status. Curious that all these people on disability still have the strength to climb a tree with a chain saw.

Mostly those who have fixed incomes live in trailers with a generator blaring to run the TV's. The other day I was out and ran across one such person who lives that way; I stopped in, as I was looking for another residence to convey a message. The gentleman arose from his trailer, looked at me with suspicion, eyes reddened, speech slurred. Nothing like a morning drunk to get your day going.

Still, it is a creative way to make a life for yourself. I don't know what the stats are on people who live on disability who move to the sticks to eek out a life. I suspect it is a growing trend in California.

During the summer, I know of several chronically mentally ill folk who tent in national forests as a way to live on their $800 a month SSI checks. They like living that way. Mentally ill people tend to have a hard time maintaining a residence in section eight housing. They tend to have a few episodes where they go off meds and end up doing harm to the property. They tend to end up in group homes, three or four to a room, being fed peanut butter sandwiches while case managers drop by (getting their billable hours) making things quite easy to manage. Mentally ill people tend to have problems with substance abuse along with having a mental illness--which often are anti social in nature. It is hard to squeeze someone with an anti-social illness into housing that requires social skills. So a tent in a national forest can be quite beneficial for the mentally disabled person. Look for them in their campers and tents next time you visit such a place.

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