“ ‘If you don’t like it here, good luck finding another place to live.’ That’s what he told me. I like it here but I need heat! That’s what I told him.”

Vicki’s HVAC has been down since October. She’s been doing what she could and it’s the worst thing she could do. She’s heating her home with her oven. That’s why her electric bill was over $700 this month and that’s why she couldn’t pay all her rent.

Of course we helped her with her rent and introduced her to our attorney. He’s on it. We’re hopeful.

Full disclosure: this makes me furious. Outraged, even.

You know all the outrageous dangers of heating a home with an open oven, and so does Vicki. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one, but the high risk of house fire is the biggest threat.

Speaking of threats, what about the threat of homelessness?

Vicki’s landlord knows just what he was saying. Vicki’s been in that house for almost a decade. The rent is $550/mo, and she can almost afford it on her $763 income. Now she has her 2 teenaged grandkids living with her. They’re with her because her son – their father – was killed.

“Of course I took them in! Even tho this place isn’t ‘all that,’ it’s quiet. There’s no trouble here, even when there’s trouble a few blocks away. It’s safe. These kids have never known safe.”

But no one in that home is safe because 1. they’re at very, very high risk for a home fire and 2. they’re at very, very high risk of homelessness. Vicki’s landlord is right: she won’t find another place for $550/mo.

Affordable housing? It’s outrageously limited here. Poverty and house fires go together like peanut butter and jelly.