I lived with PTSD for 40 years, after molestation by a Catholic priest at age five. Read my story as I write it here through 2015.

This is a True Story

**See the R-Rated Version of This Story at CofA16**
Read ongoing coverage of pedophile priest crisis at CofA12
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Lived in a Car w/a Teenage Daughter in L.A. and Lived to Write About It

Published and Removed on AlterNet 2010, reprinted here:

Story and Photos by Kay Ebeling

Every morning there was a period of deep quiet, after the helicopters stopped and before morning deliveries began.  Then I’d hear runners in Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety vans pull up near us, double park, then footsteps ran up to front porches around us.  Lizzie and I would stay hunched down low, but I imagine after several nights, the neighborhood had seen us sleeping out there in our parked car.  But no one said a word.  You become invisible when you are homeless.
It’s a mutual invisibility. They pretend not to see you and you pretend not to see them.
This particular morning I started the car and the heater, we stretched, pulled onto the street, and headed to the Welfare office, kinda grateful you don’t sleep late when you’re living on the street.  It was good we beat the traffic, good the ride was mostly downhill, from Franklin near Highland down to McArthur Park “human services” office, as the car was literally running on fumes.
Paying for motel rooms over three months, we’d gone through our move-in money, run up every credit card I had, and finally even maxed out the gas card.
In those two months we’d gone to probably every homeless program on the west side of Los Angeles, sat in waiting rooms, sat through lectures, attended mandatory classes in things like, How To Do A Job Interview.  My daughter and I still had no address but a 1995 Ford Taurus.  At night we liked to park in the Hollywood Hills, where it felt safer than down on the boulevards where the homeless people who don’t have cars walk and walk through the night.
If we ran out of gas, we’d end up on the boulevards.  The only thing keeping us from slipping totally through the cracks by February 2004 was that Ford Taurus and once it was out of gas, it was no longer an asset. 
Tip For Living In Your Car: Park pointing uphill, or you will fight gravity all night, falling onto the steering wheel trying to sleep.
That morning we had an appointment at the welfare office to apply for the L.A. County homeless program.  I found in my notes, “I feel like we are covered in dirt.  We probably are covered in dirt.”
I had taken to relying on air showers to wash up.
You stand in a breeze, hold up your arms, and the air cleans your skin as it blows through the fabric, a crocheted top is best for air showering more places, a very … efficient way to wash without water.  Afterwards you crawl into your car and go to sleep.
I also learned when using public showers a technique for washing  my clothes at the same time i wash myself, a practice i still carry out to this day.  You’d be surprised the tips a few years of homelessness will add to your normal life, if you ever make it back to normal life.
Bomb Scare in the Welfare Office
There was a long line just inside the entrance at the L.A. welfare office. My 15 year old daughter Lizzie let a man with a baby get in front of us.
Then there was a bomb scare and everyone had to evacuate the building.  It was February 2004, and the initial paranoia from Nine Eleven still permeated public buildings.  Everyone in the welfare office, caseworkers and clients, had to go across the street to a parking lot.
We got to know a mom who was there with her two toddler aged kids.  They had walked seventeen blocks from the shelter where they were staying to the welfare office.
With all of us in the parking lot from the bomb scare, the caseworkers had to continue business outside, or the line of people would just keep growing and growing.  So the caseworkers leaned over and had people sign documents on their backs so they could go on their way back onto the streets of Los Angeles, still homeless.
Story Continued Below

The lady who walked 17 blocks with two kids would have to come back because they didn’t have an appointment.  There in the parking lot the welfare workers made an appointment for them, and they left to walk the streets of L.A., meandering around until 6PM or so when they could get back into the shelter, and plan to come back for homeless assistance from the county another day.
 That day since we had an appointment, we got onto the official county of Los Angeles County program for homeless families right there in the parking lot.
Here is how it worked back then in 2004.
If you can prove you are genuinely looking for a home, the county gives you enough money for a hotel room for two weeks.
Only you can’t and they don’t and it’s not.
They give you vouchers that should last two weeks in a hotel, but they don’t, and that’s so the county can help you move into  an apartment, but only if you can find one for $454.00 a month.  Even the caseworker said, “You won’t find a place for $450 a month,” so the whole program was basically a charade.  My caseworker had a Central European accent.  I wondered if he was a direct descendent of Franz Kafka. 
You went through the motions, pretended look for housing, when really all you were getting was a hotel room for two weeks that would actually just be six or seven nights, but one does not turn down any help once one gets desperate.  So each day I would leave our motel and do the charade of looking for anything we could possibly rent for $454 a month in 2004 in L.A., a room behind a shoe repair shop with no bath, anything, but even an SRO downtown cost more than that.  
It was a charade, a program that existed on paper, but no one even expected it to work.
The first night we were in the L.A. County homeless program, the hotel I found that would take our voucher and was in a neighborhood I knew, was on Sunset Boulevard near La Brea, called the Studio Inn, if I remember right.  It was near Hollywood High School, run by two Pakistani men who I begged to let us stay at the weekly rate, explaining we were in this County program and they nodded like they’d heard it before, and gave us the better rate.  We finally got out of the car and into a room.
Few minutes later when I opened the door to go get ice, the two hotel guys were waiting outside our door, panting, like now it was time for us to do them a favor.
Since we turned them down, they said they could not let us have the room at that rate anymore.  “This is Hollywood Studio Inn on Sunset Boulevard,” they explained, “on weekends rooms rent for as high as 90 to 200 dollars a night.
“This is one big party, Sunset Boulevard on the weekends,” the hotelier said as he placed our Welfare vouchers among a stack in his cash drawer.
Most homeless teenagers aren’t still living with their parents.
So shelters aren’t equipped for a mom with a kid over age 12. That’s why it took us so long to get help,
I told the welfare worker next visit that the hotel owners were trying to get us to prostitute ourselves for the difference between a weekly and daily rate, and he broke down and gave me enough vouchers for the rest of our two weeks to actually use them and live in a hotel for two weeks.  So we spent those nights in luxury at the Hollywood Seven Star Inn, then moved back onto the street south of Franklin near Highland, waking up to the delivery of Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety to the residents around us.
A few weeks later, around the time the car was about to die on the street, we got into a temporary shelter, a Christian run place.  They were donation run only, didn’t take government grants, so they could bend the rules and let my 15 year old daughter and me stay there together.  Every other program in L.A. insisted we’d have to separate, her go to a teen home, me to a women’s place, as that’s the way most grants are written.  We just couldn’t separate at that time in our lives.

The private Christian shelter didn’t have rigid structural guidelines like government projects, so when we found Hope Again Mission at 5161 Sunset Boulevard, my daughter and I finally got into a shelter, then 11 months later into a transitional shelter, and now we live in a neighborhood right around the corner from Hope Again, a part of town that up to November 2003, I would never even drive through.
 It’s East Hollywood, and today it’s home.
Post Note: In notes I found recently from this period, which sparked this series, I wrote this about our nights at the Studio Inn on Sunset Boulevard: “I’m so grateful that men asking my daughter to appear in a sex video for hard cash scare her, rather than tempts her.  I must have done something right.”
Post Note 2: I remember the day a few week earlier, when I pulled into the parking lot at PATH, People Helping the Homeless, a well-known homeless agency near downtown in our 1995 Ford Taurus.  The people waiting outside gave an audible group sigh when we pulled up in that hunk of dented metal, because to them a car means security, a movable shelter, we had more of a home than they did.  That car was our last platform keeping us from the final bottom, landing on the street, sleeping in a cardboard box, or on a bus bench.
We don’t have a car anymore.
One More Post Note: 
I was working when we become homeless.
I’m an independent contractor and have to set up my own equipment in my home to work, so while we were homeless, instead of working freelance, i had to take a staff job.
 I Was Homeless Working On The Dr. Phil Show

I was working on the Dr. Phil Show, on the Paramount Studios lot, when my daughter and I were homeless and living out of our car in Spring 2004,  and then later while we lived in the first of two homeless shelters.  Even working fulltime there in the basement of the Dr. Phil Show building on the lot, doing a job that is critical for production of the show, the pay wasn’t high enough to get us back into even a small studio apartment. 

Originally Appeared April 2010 on Page One of AlterNet in SoapBox now removed.
From Kay Ebeling, Producer, The City of Angels Is Everywhere

POST NOTES after photo BELOW: 

Being middle class, I approached becoming homeless like a problem to be solved, a project, like finding a job.  If I just work every waking moment, I thought, I’ll find a new place to live.  But we became homeless November 2003 and it was November 2005 before we moved into our own place again.  Recently I came across the notes from those first weeks after we lost our apartment in a chi-chi part of West Hollywood. 
With my fifteen year old daughter, we were paying weekly rent at motels off Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, as we raced against time, trying to find a new apartment before the move-in money we had ran out. 
Finding these notes was revealing.  I knew I’d made a lot of phone calls those days and these notes show it.  I was up at the crack of dawn and on the phone every day, and knocking on doors. 
Since 2005 I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the chaos of those years my teenage daughter and I were homeless in L.A., and the notes I found recently show just how erratic and frenzied those days really were, I’ve even scanned the notes in and uploaded them here at City of Angels 2   and you can see the growing madness in the handwriting.  Most revealing is what my daughter and I discovered within days of losing our home and moving into motels, that:
There are hundreds and hundreds of agencies, nonprofits, government and private run groups, but so much of what they do is refer clients from one agency to another.  The real help going on is minimal, while the hundreds of nonprofits continue to thrive, many of them to this day.  In one of the notes I call these endless phone calls “the phone referral go round” where always eventually you are told to call the first agency you called, then you start calling again.
Remember these notes are from November 2003 to early Jan 2004:
L.A. Housing Authority             1800 731 4663      
Menu item Shelter Plus Care under homeless. Left voicemail messages
About going on STS or about Section 8 and explaining we need Homeless Plus
Called five times as couldn’t hold the 30-plus minutes each time on this phone.
Finally Left 3 messages
Housing Authority for County – Santa Fe Springs
Have 2 Shelter Plus Care of homeless programs.  Get there by 1:15 (followed by a map from Hollywood to Santa Fe Springs)
9 AM Call all the dailies (the nonprofits I was calling every day.
Early, before 8:30, go to PATH in person Ask for (NAME REDACTED)
Check out hotel with weekly rates on Ventura near Lankershim.
Make unmade phone calls
Call Info Line             1 800 731 4663       menu item 2, One for message, calling for Housing Plus Care Program, mother and child, both need both. 
[earlier accidentally left message about Section 8, which is another issue
Leave two phone numbers this time.
Call Tuesday
House of Yahweh- they do interviews, first call on Tuesday at 10 AM
Tues 12-16-03
No space available, call again later in the month.  (they have small trailers, the reason they were encouraging earlier is they thought I was a lady with three kids.)
TRACK DOWN THIS GUY, (Business card of police officer I found and made this note, “these two police officers were helpful.”
- Go in person to Wilcox Station to try to contact?
12.03.03 Contacted Officer (NAME REDACTED) he said for me to “Call with good results” when we get them. 
December 1, 2003:
House of Yahweh, Martha said there are two sites, one in Lawndale, one in L.A.  One is a shelter and one is the administrative offices where they do intakes.  She said call back on Saturday, and hold lots of minutes.  “Hold lots of minutes, it takes lots of time.”
Calls next couple days:
M-F 9 to 5.  Nope.  Nope.  (Rude)
No, have to call office Monday through Friday not here on Saturday.
Check out motel at Vineland & Ventura, weekly rates
(SINCE I am one of the thousands of adult victims of pedophile priests, I also tried different Catholic agencies. )
Catholic Worker
Voice of the Faithful
Priests Of Integrity
Catholic Charities
LA City Housing Department Section 8
Office of Rent Stabilization (address on w. 15th street, go in person)
Valley shelter, 6640 Van Nuys Blvd
City of L.A. office of tenants rights,
Women’s Care Cottage:  6040 Shelter, can stay ninety days.  Case Managers work with you.  Okay to transfer from one shelter after 90 days there to another shelter 90 days there, and then back for 90 days.  “Lots of women do that,” she said on the phone.  Also in their office is a free laundry machine, counseling. 
Waiting List is two to three months long, but can come in for a meal and a shower during office hours.
Hope Again             323 661-4004       Go in person on Sunset near Normandie (This is the agency that eventually did help us.)
Agape Mission (left message 12.8.03)
Burbank Family Services, no homeless services.  Used to have it.  Do have services for counseling.  Fee is $26.00. 
4PM tried again to reach Shelter Plus Care.  On hold at 4:20, finally left a second voice message.
Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd on Sunset gives out bag-lunches three days a week.
SNAP phone call (To regional officer for SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, one of many organizations I contacted during this period time we were on the streets.)
Sunday 11.2?:03 Notes from conversation with SNAP:
Churches?  She’ll send email out so people will know we are still in trouble.  Suggests I get on AFDC so can get on their homeless program and apply for Section 8.  Also try Voice of the Faithful as they have set up a special project for victims.
Chicago Linkup? She doesn’t know anything.
There is a Catholic Worker Shelter in Santa Ana the SNAP rep can help us get into but my daughter and I have an agreement that we will never go to Orange County again, (a whole nother story).
Women’s Care Cottage, PATH, and Beyond Shelter are now phone numbers on piece of paper I carry around so I could call at least once a day and check in showing we still need help.
“Still To Do” These places were listed with phone numbers:
L.A. Homeless Services Authority
Valley Shelter
Women’s Care Cottage – You can come in and do laundry twice a week, no later than two hours before closing.  There is a 2 month waiting list for the shelter.  Showers available 2:30 to 5:00 PM. 5:30 on Tues and Friday.  Hot meals every day at lunch time.  You’re welcome to come in and do laundry and eat.
Jewish Family Services (12.01.03 conversation) Made appointment and met with (NAME REDACTED)
Two possible shelters.  They are the ones who told me about Women’s Care Cottage.  And Valley Shelter (they take you on a bus to a church, you sleep in the pews, leave first thing next morning). If you can’t find shelter and still need mental health help, go to (she gave me a list of County Mental Health Clinics). 
Wednesday Musts:
Go in person:  Post Office, p/u mail and fill out another yellow form per Victor from our old mail route, it’s okay.  Go to (NAME OF COMPANY REDACTED), check and see about work (?) (NAME) never returned last few phone calls)
9AM Info Line Emergency check in number (REDACTED)
Call Catholic Charities again re move-in money assistance? (They say wait for HM to call back)
Per (NAME REDACTED) at Info Line (from phone call yesterday) “Call Hope Again Again, but they will only take you though, not your daughter.” (Also have to bring proof of income)
Call STS:  Check on status of $240.00 check I’m due for the Disney job. 
You’re in the “Social Service Phone Referral Go-Round” where each agency refers you to another until eventually, someone will refer you back to the first agency you called.  Then you start all over again.”
By Kay Ebeling, To Be Continued
 (NOTE: In May of 2004 Hope Again bent their rules and let my daughter and me move in together, even though she was fifteen, three years younger than their minimum age.  They could bend the rules because they do not take government money, so are not tied in to grant requirements.)
Kay Ebeling writes about the pedophile priest epidemic in the Catholic Church here and at City of Angels 

Kay Ebeling pioneered internet journalism by creating City of Angels Blog, where she reports on the Pedophile Priest epidemic in the Catholic Church as one of the victims. Today CofA Blog continues its muckraking tradition on several topics, producing stories that are overlooked by mainstream media. Ebeling's day job is all done online, so she is currently traveling the country while producing City of Angels Blog, which started at http://cityofangels3.blogspot.com  in 2007.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dear Lizzie

Stalled. . .

Makes me think of you:

Dear Lizzie, please get help (screenshot, with smudge, from CSI Season Six, "Way To Go" written by Jerry Stahl, after he got off heroin).