Ciara’s Housing Story

Black women wearing orange sweater, patterned pants, eye glasses, headband, staring and smiling at camera in her power chair. Greenery behind her.

We first met Ciara when she performed as Lovelace and shared poetry at one of our Inclusion Hours. Her words are powerful, and so is her desire to live independently.

“I am currently living in Oakland, California. I live in the same house, and on the same block I grew up on as a child. I am eternally grateful that I have a roof over my head, but at this point, I want more.

I would love to move into my own home. I am aware that, given my situation, it is possible, but it is not an easy task. My goal is to live independently, and, when I say independently, I mean having my own place and supporting myself in all aspects financially. It has felt impossible to find a place that meets my financial needs. California is very expensive to live in, let alone the Bay Area. I have put out housing applications, been placed on many waiting lists, and now, I play the waiting game time-and-time again. I have had at least six different applications out there at once. It takes time before I hear back, and unfortunately, it has yet to work out for me. In fact, out of all my applications, there’s only a handful of times someone has even responded to me with information. I recently received a letter stating that there was an available unit waiting for me in Rodeo, California. I put in an application hoping that they would call my name and that the location would be doable for me. But, I learned about the limited public transportation and how I also wouldn’t have my support system (family or friends) within the city. I had to weigh my options. I came to the conclusion that the location would not be the best fit for me.

As with moving out, my scope is different than able-bodied people. Due to my physical disability, there is so much vetting that I need. Although I can live on my own, the severity of my disability hinders me from moving quickly in case of an emergency. I must make sure everything is fully accessible. Accessibility is a necessity for me. My disability has landed me in a wheelchair. Luckily, I still have my mobility to some extent, but not enough that I don’t need support. For me, I would need my dwelling unit without stairs. I would need the outside to be a flat surface to roll into my house and or unit easily. I need the bathroom to be accessible. I require handrails on the wall and a tub that are a few inches up from the ground. I need the kitchen to be spacious enough to maneuver my chair easily within the space.

All in all, I will need something that meets my standard of living before moving anywhere. I refuse to make it more difficult on myself than it already is. I will keep putting the work in and keep filling out applications with hopes that the universe replies, someday, positively.”

Stories by The Kelsey are collected to illustrate the housing issues facing people with disabilities and to elevate the voices of adults with disabilities and their families. If you’d like to share your housing story, contact us.

The Kelsey