Continue from Part I….
- Public Housing – Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH). For household with three family members, it is required for our family to live in a two-bedroom apartment. In New Bedford, for a two-bedroom apartment the average rent cost for a house-like apt is between $600-$750 based on the location, furnished-not furnished, utilities (electricity, heating, Internet access) included or not, etc. And for the townhouse or tower apt the average rent cost is $1000-$1200/ month. Our first apartment is located in South End of New Bedford, a three-story house with 6 tenants (incl. us) on it. We chose the apt based on the proximity to Ara’s office, access to public transportation and groceries store, affordable rent fee, good landlord, and the safety of neighborhood area. By the time we’re about to reach the end of contract year (usually takes 1 year contract agreement to stay in apt) I had been thinking to apply for a public housing. Public housing is every where in this city along with affordable prices and subsidized rent vouchers. Apply for it is not that complicated, usually they will accepted all citizenship with or without valid ID as long as you have a proper income to pay the monthly rent. But to wait for the available unit took a looong process and time, can be 1-2 years to get one unit. I personally think it’s not worthed to wait that long. Just before I want to give up, I checked Craigslist (a very helpful Web to find many information from rent, used car/ furnitures, volunteer, job opportunities, etc in your local area) and found that there’s a public housing managed by private company under Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) named Temple Landing in downtown New Bedford. To apply for this affordable housing you need to fulfill the eligibility requirements; income-based (for 2 bedroom min. annual income is $24.450), at least one of the family member must have a Social Security Number (SSN), and have a good record from the previous landlord. Also, you will need to be interviewed with the management staffs. It seems very simple enough to apply, but it actually not. We need to ‘compete’ with other applicants (which is abundance, I believed) and I really had to struggle to get this place, because at first they insisted that to apply for this housing ALL the family members must have the SSN. Thank God and the Internet, after browsing here and there, call here and there (from the POAH head office, SSN office, to City Hall of New Bedford), I can argue to the management staff that SSN is not necessary needed to apply for affordable housing. The 900ft sq apartment is double size form our previous apt, and the rent cost is (supposed to be cheaper than our previous apt): $620…..! But, but, but, because none of us have the alien registration number (which we can’t have one unless we get the green card), we couldn’t get the subsidized rent cost, so we paid $719 per month for this unit. Still it is very cheap if we compare to the non-affordable housing, our apt which is brand-new and equipped with modern appliances would have cost at least $1500/ month. A very good deal!
- Cell Phone – Assurance Wireless. Last year, me and Ara had to pay $400 for our cellphones’ bills. Teleco system in US is total crap. I hate the contract system. I hate the pay to go system. I simply think it’s a waste of money. In here, when people called you, your phone credit will be taken. Same as texting, if somebody’s send you an sms, they will reduced your phone credit too. And the contract system for 1 to 2 years is ridiculous. Again, the government has been very thoughtful to their low-income residents: what if something bad happened to a family who doesn’t have phone and in the urge to call 911? So, lucky to us, those who currently enrolled to some of government programs (depends to each state, check yours in here) like MassHealth or Fuel Assistance can received one cell phone per household with Free 250 minutes talk every month. The phone itself is not that oldies, it looks like this:
- Early Childhood Education – PACE. Public school in US is free (1st grade to 12th grade), but preschool and kindergarten not. Per month parents should pay at least $700-$900 for preschool/ kindergarten. But again, don’t worry! Since education is fundamental, government really pays attention to early childhood education and try their best so every child can go to school & get a proper knowledge so they won’t left behind once they entering the public school. In New Bedford there’s PACE (People Acting In Community Endeavors) that provides many programs dedicate to educate & facilitate the low-income families. The program for children and family including:
- Head Start provides a free family centered child development program for children ages 3-5 from income eligible families living in the Greater New Bedford area. Head Start children benefit from comprehensive approach to early care and education that supports and enhances the development of both the child and family members. Transportation and meals are provided. The program operates year round with care offered from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for more information visit their website.
- Family Center is a family support and literacy program. The Center offers various services designed to provide New Bedford parents and families with the support and resources they need to learn new skills, enhance family interactions, and empower them to reach their full potential. All services are free (playgroups, ESOL and GED classes, parenting workshops, etc). Me and Azka are routinely come for the programs held by the Family Center and enrolled to one of their program called Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) for children 16 months – 4 years. So Azka will have a tutor come for a home visit twice a week – 30 minutes per visit. The tutor will bring (and give) educational toys, books, and materials for the kids to be played and do some activities. The tutor also gave ideas to parents what to do with the toys (introduce patterns, colors, etc). This program is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. By the end of the year, our “foster family” that gave the donation through The Family Center gave the child and the mother gifts for Christmas gift: new educational toys, clothes, gift cards, and bunch of foods. We couldn’t thank them enough for this.
That’s some of the benefits we got so far, and actually still many others available but we haven’t got it yet or can’t get it because we don’t meet the citizenship status. Once Nako II come to this world and get many benefits for being a US citizen, I’ll share! (Amin, amin) 😀