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Sisters Find Themselves Out of Work, Homeless
$400 raised
4% of $10k goal
7 contributors
4 Years running
.Copy From OC Register   : Cathy, left, and Patty Selves sit waiting for a bus in Anaheim. The two sisters are newly homeless. They lost everything caring for their now-deceased parents and cannot find work because they have no permanent ...

.Copy From OC Register

  : Cathy, left, and Patty Selves sit waiting for a bus in Anaheim. The two sisters are newly homeless. They lost everything caring for their now-deceased parents and cannot find work because they have no permanent address.
Cathy, left, and Patty Selves sit waiting for a bus in Anaheim. The two sisters are newly homeless. They lost everything caring for their now-deceased parents and cannot find work because they have no permanent address.


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Cathy, left, and Patty Selves walk through a strip mall parking lot after getting off a bus in Anaheim. The homeless sisters are new to living in the streets, but they can't find work for lack of a permanent address.
Sisters find themselves out of work, homeless
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They dried their eyes and rose from the table, having never bothered to eat the fast-food hamburgers I bought for them. No, they just wanted to talk.
It was late in the afternoon, so I offered to drive them to the park where they stash their belongings. When they heard this, they both began to cry again and gave me the biggest hug.
The park was way across town, and I was so glad I had offered the ride. They never would have made it in time on the bus, and it would have been my fault.
Patty Selves directed me to a street behind La Palma Park in Anaheim. The road tilted down and down, past vacant-eyed men and women leaning against shopping carts.
One or two of them quickly turned into six and then a dozen more as I drove, finally pulling in front of a chain link fence where there must have been 40 or 50 more vacant-eyed human beings.
So much of me did not want to let Patty, 59, and her sister, Cathy, 53, out of the car. They did not, and trust me on this, by any stretch belong here.
I drove away trying very hard not to think of what the rest of their night will become – the bus ride back to the armory in Fullerton where they will stand in line with dozens of other homeless people, the mad dash they will make to get cots or mattresses on the floor next to each other.
What I could not drown out of my head was Patty’s loud crying in the Anaheim restaurant, her plaintive wailing over and over of how their lives now were “just hell, pure hell!”
They fell victim to what I am now calling the Curse of the Baby Boom Generation, men and women who are being forced to decide what to do with their elderly parents who can no longer manage to care for themselves.
Do they simply punt and force their parents into pennilessness that would get them state aid and into a nursing home, or do they honor their parents’ wishes at a great personal financial cost and provide care for them at home?
Such stories have been flooding in of late. Cathy and Patty Selves’ story was only the latest of them.
Their father, Dean, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. Both Patty and Cathy put their lives on hold to return to their parents’ home of 34 years on Flippen Drive in Anaheim to care for him.
At the same time, their mother was fading fast from dementia. Both women took any part-time job they could find to take care of their parents, one taking a day shift job, and the other the night shift.
They had promised their parents that they would take care of them.
Dean Selves died on May 10, 2010. Their mother passed away in her bedroom on Flippen Drive a little more than a year later on Oct. 27, 2011.
“What we didn’t know,” Patty said, “was that Dad put a reverse mortgage on the house in 2006 so there would be money for us to take care of him and Mom. He did it because he knew he was going to die.”
When their mother died there was no money left. She was barely in the ground when the bank holding the reverse mortgage called and told the sisters they had two months to get out.
“We sold everything in the house,” Cathy remembered, “furniture, collector’s items, clothes. We would have needed a miracle to keep the house. Its value was much less than what was owed. The miracle never came.”
Just before the two months were up, Cathy rented a car. Friends had told them to move to Texas. Getting a job there, they were told, was easy.
Cathy and Patty drove to Arlington where Cathy almost immediately found a job as a cook. Patty was suffering from the migraine headaches and dizziness that had hospitalized her in Anaheim where doctors diagnosed her as permanently disabled. So she stayed in the apartment they found in Arlington while Cathy worked. Patty has applied for disability payments but has not gotten them so far.
Neither woman had ever married. Their education was sparse. Extremely close to their parents, both would move in and out of the Flippen Drive home periodically over the last 30 years.
Cathy finally could no longer afford the rent. The walk from the apartment to the bus was miles long, no easy task in 115-degree Arlington in the summer.
Her boss at the restaurant agreed she should take an opening at their restaurant in Fort Worth where bus service was better and the rents cheaper.
When Patty and Cathy arrived in Fort Worth in July, Cathy was told the position had already been filled. She could not find another job. Their money completely gone, the sisters for the first time in their lives stood in line at a church to receive donated food.
Eviction from the apartment soon followed. Unable, even, to provide for their three cats, Patty begged the local Humane Society chapter to take them.
“I went into a depression so deep,” Patty told me. “I went numb. I couldn’t feel anything anymore.” With that, she began crying again.
They returned to California in August. A friend in Walnut offered to take them in. Cathy continued to search for work. Each time she failed. On Nov. 1, the friend, saying they needed to remodel their home, put the two women out on the streets.
They knew of the homeless shelter at the armory in Fullerton. That was the first night they stood in the armory’s nightly homeless line.
“I apply at least six times a day for a job,” Cathy said, “but I can’t find a single one. I look like crap at the interviews. They want a permanent address. I don’t have one.”
Tell me about your typical day, I ask.
The lights in the shelter come on at 4:30 every morning. That is followed by loud yelling and bustling about.
“Everybody then runs to the bathroom to get dressed,” Patty said. “It stinks. The place is horrible.”
In the ladies’ room, there are two stalls for 80 women, they said. In the showers, which the men use first, “destroying them,” there are five shower heads for the same 80 women.
There is no privacy,” Cathy said.
They pack up their belongings, and ride the bus to La Palma Park where they can stow it all. And then it is back to the bus.
“Most of us go to the beach,” Cathy said. “Nothing is open at that hour so there is nothing to do. And you have no money to do what normal people can.”
If it is cold outside, they will ride the bus to the library. Cathy uses the computers there to apply for work.
“And then you try to find lunch, you try to find a church that’s giving away food. Sometimes,” Cathy explains, “they give away clothes and toiletries and let you use their showers, which is very nice.”
Everyday is unpredictable, the women said. Their lives are spent on the bus. On Sunday they take it to church where they pray for their lives to return.
“This is not a life,” Patty says. “There is no life to this. You are scared all the time. Who will rip you off in the middle of the night? Who will stab you? There is always a feeling that something will go wrong.”
They have a cousin and an aunt. Both have disowned the two for becoming homeless, they said. Both women shrug before crying yet again.
They were raised as good, proper Catholic girls in a nice middle-class family, Cathy said as we approached the park.
“I never would have dreamt our lives would have come to this. You grow up and think this will never happen to you. It did.”
The two women open the doors and step out of my car. It has been a long while since I have seen someone so scared.
“I’d give anything for a bed right now,” Patty says, struggling hard not to cry. “I want our lives to come back, to have fun again. I haven’t felt happy in such a long time.”
There is no social safety net anymore, if there ever really was one. That is the reality today.
You fall, there is only hard concrete to catch you now.

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