Now a contented Maxwell Garden resident, Mary Ann’s formative years were pretty rough. Assessed at an early age as a slow learner, and living in an abusive family situation, she dropped out of school at 16 years old and ran away from home. She never went back.
Thankfully, friends took her into their home, where she stayed for the next two years. Her lifelong learning disabilities afforded her some Social Security income which, coupled with jobs through a labor pool and some additional benefits when her father died, helped her get by financially.
Over the ensuing years, Mary Ann lived in several rooming houses for long periods of time, with an 18-month stretch in a homeless shelter in between. She recalls her frustration with fellow tenants and their lack of cleanliness at the last rooming house. “I had to clean up behind people,” she says, remembering a particularly repugnant man whose mess she tidied up, “and then he cussed me out!”
“I got tired of cleaning up after other people and I wanted a place of my own,” she states. Her situation grew so distasteful she finally knew, “I’ve got to get out of here!” With that notion, she moved to the streets, absolutely convinced that, “The street was better than the rooming house!”
“I didn’t have to go to the streets because I had money, but I wanted to be by myself,” Mary Ann reasons. Those resources enabled her to go from sleeping in the park to motel rooms for two months, as well as save for an eventual place to live.
In addition to providing an unconventional type of solitude, that lifestyle supplied information when she was ready. “I knew people on the streets and they told me about Maxwell Garden. I came in with my ID and Social Security Card, applied (for an apartment), and about a month later, I moved in.” That was October 2018.
“Since I’ve been here, I’m doing good...better than when I was on the street,” she says. “I like it here. I’ve met better friends!” In particular, Mary Ann appreciates the neighbor who is happy to help her when needed and is grateful for her Case Manager, Syr Rodriguez. “She got me a replacement Medicaid Card!”
“I feel good now. I can stay to myself,” she says about her air-conditioned efficiency, a godsend for her asthma. “I can leave here and lock my door and not worry about somebody coming in.”
And remembering all those messy rooming house problems, she declares, “And I keep my house clean!”