A photo of several town houses.
credit: Steven Martin/Flickr

The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development’s “Housing For All” campaign has held an annual writing competition every year since 2001. This year, youth and adults were asked to respond to the prompt “Home Sweet Home.” This year’s event, titled “Fulfill the Promise,” calls on city officials to uphold a promise made at last year’s rally to contribute $100 million to the city’s affordable housing production trust fund.  

Members of the Street Sense writers group shared the following stories with the writing competition. 

The annual rally will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday March 5. Among other events, writing competition winners will be recognized and the winning submissions will be read aloud.   


 

What is a Sweet Home?

By Debora Brantley

Where I live now does not seem like “home sweet home.” I live in an apartment for the handicapped. For one thing I do not like the women that live in the place with me. They are much too bad off (in every way). And they are much too difficult to get along with. I don’t want to be bothered, and from now on, they are not going to bother me. This is something that I hope for in the future.

I don’t too much care for the people of the D.C. area. They are not friendly, even though I have met all sorts of interesting people since I’ve been back here. So as far as areas to live in are concerned, D.C. is not Home Sweet Home.

For me, Home Sweet Home would be in a trailer park. You can meet all sorts of interesting people there. Many stars come from a trailer park existence and meanderings. The rent is cheap, so I think one of these would be my first home.

An apartment is a nice step up to self-sufficiency in between. I would like to make over my “home sweet home,” changing the décor to my liking. This I feel would be a good step for me, in the right direction.

 


 

Dear Domicile!

By Frederick John

I float home,
my feet lifted by virtual
elevator shoes.

Did a man or woman expire,
to allow this humble child-
Foggy Bottom spawned,
passage home to whence he
was drawn?

My lofty view encompasses river
and center stage.
Both benchmarks of this
now-homed artists’ Golden Age!

Older, wiser, more sober-
I humbly lower my head
upon my feathered pallet.
No stake, no mallet.
Merely gratitude by the truck load!

 


 

Home Sweet Home

By Beverly Sutton

I have a social worker that helped me with housing. She took me to meetings at an agency to help me get a place to live. After I got my apartment, the agency helped me get furniture. To celebrate my first day off the street, my social worker, one of my nurses, and I went to a restaurant and had dinner.

I felt funny that first night getting into a bed in my own place after 35 years on the street. For the first time in all those years, I was so comfortable that I didn’t even want to get up to go to the bathroom (but I did)!

When I woke up, I felt great. I cooked myself some sausage, eggs, and grits. I drank Pepsi and water.

After I got settled down in my housing, I was going to Alcoholics Anonymous to quit drinking and to quit smoking cigarettes. Ever since then I have stopped drinking and smoking and I’ve been living a pretty good life, especially after all the misery I had been through.

When I was homeless, most nights I drank and smoked cigarettes before going to sleep in Chinatown, 5th and H Streets, in front of an old building. It was bad, but not as bad as when I was abused in foster care. I did have a home sweet home, though, with a foster mother. I stayed with her till I was 30 years old. A year after I moved out, my kind foster mother died.

Now with my own apartment, I thank God every day that I’m doing well and I pray to God every day that I will continue doing well.

 


 

Ranch Home

By Patty Smith

Yes, I would like to live in a ranch home. You know, I had a girlfriend that I met at the age of 16. We were both in the 7th grade. I had just changed schools and had gotten into a fight with a girl who had run a comb through my hair. Well, when my friend found this out, we soon become the best of friends.

Years went by and we remained friends. Even went to the discos on double dates together. After 12th grade, she had been engaged. She had gotten married a couple of months afterward. Later, she got divorced and met someone else. They had bought a ranch house and it was perfect! Living room and dining and bedroom with a complete bar to entertain guests, especially for the holidays. So, looking back, that is what I would like my house to be like.

 


 

Home Sweet Home

By Damon Smith

Home is where the heart is. Many people have a definition of what home is. To some, it’s a personal space with a lock and you have the key. To me, home is a sanctuary, where you rest your head, escape the madness of the world, a secure place.

I am homeless. To me home is nowhere. I was born in Washington, DC, so this is my home, in thought not place. I have relatives and friends you would classify as having nice homes, but I’m not welcome. I can’t wait till I have a place to come to at the end of a long day—and call my own. I’ve been homeless most of my adult life. Living on the streets, you spend the days wandering around and wondering where the time goes. There is no worse feeling than wondering when the day is over where you’ll sleep and be safe. The few times I’ve had a place there was not a better feeling. Sometimes, we take it for granted. Many have never known this feeling nor would they understand it.

Many homeless people don’t like conventional homes – they feel locked in. I feel like I am stuck on a merry-go-round of hell, going through this terrible situation day after day. Many times it gets overwhelming, but I pull it together and move on. I am in the process of getting out of this madness and becoming stationary instead of being a nomad, moving from place to place. This is one of the most dreadful experiences I have ever been through. I can’t wait until I kiss the floor of my own place.

 


 

My Ideal Home

By Patty Smith

Having reached a certain age, I think more and more about my ideal home. I used to live at the YWCA. I had a Home Health Aide. Let me tell you about her and some reasons that I would like an ideal place as I retire.

She would come in the morning. First, she took off her coat. She brought me my cigarettes and coffee on a tray. And she took so much care with my bed, straightening it up. Next she straightened up my dresser then started cleaning the room. She swept and mopped the floor, and then she did the dishes.

She went in the bathroom and cleaned everything. She kept my place so clean, that when I retire I would like to have a gorgeous place like this. Spic and span with a nice patio, out back.

 


 

What Makes a Home?

By Ronald Turner

To me, home is a place where you can relax, a place where you can raise a family, a clean place where you feel safe, a place for entertainment, a place to cook, to bathe, to wish and to study.

That is what makes a house a home.