Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesdays with Dorothy: "Finding My Own Apartment"


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Even though I first met Dorothy when I was working at the St. Andrew’s Foundation, she had already moved out of our group homes and had been living in her own apartment for several years.  One of the ways our clients were able to move out on their own and afford their own apartments was by way of subsidized housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Apartments had to pass inspection to be qualified for federal subsidy, which was a good thing in that it insured our clients of finding affordable housing that was up to standard. 

I knew how much Dorothy liked her apartment and how well-kept her living quarters were, but I wanted to find out from her how she came to reside in her small Southside apartment. I asked her to fill me in during one of our conversations:


Dorothy Burdette
(photo taken about the time
she moved to her apartment)
When I moved in to my apartment here, it was March the 1st, 1980. I had seen the rent sign, so I got somebody to come down here with me. I had to put a hundred dollar deposit down and then it took about two weeks for them to fix it up and I moved in here. A couple of men at Glen Iris Baptist Church helped me move my things in. I started coming to Glen Iris when I was in my first apartment with Virginia. I was down in Five Points and I met this lady who told me about Glen Iris, and that’s how I started going there.

I found this apartment one time when I was walking from church. There was a ‘For Rent’ sign out on the corner. Then I found out that Boothby owned it. A man named Mr. Banks let me in to see the apartment. I had to put a hundred dollar deposit down, and there was a lady at the church that helped me with the rest of it. Me and her became good friends. The kitchen was a mess and the bathroom was a mess. They had an old double sink and I mean I had to clean it up and scrub it. I thought I never would get through. Since then they painted in here one time, some of the paint is peeled off. I’ve been here in this apartment thirty years now.  I used to have to go way up on Highland, way up on the hill, to pay my bill.  I would walk up there every month to pay my bill. Now my friend Lana has it fixed so I pay my rent on line direct from my bank account.

I’ve really been through a lot of messes here – water and everything else. Now it ain’t so bad like it used to be. Water used to leak out of the ceiling and drip down here. I’d have to get up in the cold night to get water out of the bathroom. A water drain busted in the kitchen and it really was a mess.  When I first came here [to this apartment] there was garbage in the back porch that had done got molded. This whole place was in a mess and I had to clean it up.

Keeping house
(photo by Marvin Clemmons)

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