Abias Crosby has a problem. He lives on the third floor of his apartment building.
“I’ve been dragging up these steps for almost six years with groceries and everything.”
There’s no elevator.
Recently he found he wasn’t able to climb the stairs anymore.
“I can make it down, slow, but coming back up is almost impossible. I’m trapped. It gradually came on. I could feel it over the years. If I have to go to the doctor or something, I have someone come and help take me.”
The doctors aren’t sure what’s wrong.
“They’ve been making tests on my kidneys. Somebody said it could be cancer, could be other things.”
Abias is paying out of his own pocket for someone to go to the grocery store for him and to help him up and down the stairs. Because he lives in a Seattle Housing Authority apartment, you’d think it would be relatively easy for him to switch to a ground-floor apartment.
Unfortunately, “I’m caught up in the lease deal. My doctor even gave me a letter that I needed to leave.”
There’s a problem with getting his rental deposit transferred over, and even if there wasn’t, “They always say they don’t have a [one-bedroom] unit available on the first floor. Or even two bedrooms, and I don’t qualify for two bedrooms.”
Abias comes from St. Louis. He moved to Seattle after he got out of the Marines.
“I was stationed here. I always wanted to come back and later on I brought my family out.” His ex-wife and one of his grown kids still live in the area; his other son lives in New York.
Abias lived in his car for several years. Then, six years ago, he got onto a program through the Veteran’s Administration that prioritized housing for veterans according to how long they had been homeless. That allowed him to skip going through the usual lottery for subsidized housing.
“My counselor called me and said, ‘you’ve been accepted,’ and I like to jump for joy.”
Abias says he’s generally had good experiences with the VA.
“I was always the type who would stay on top of it. I would call. I wouldn’t just sit back and wait for what they decided. I would bug them to get something done.”
Almost 11 years ago, Abias started selling Real Change. There were periods when he was selling papers for nine or 10 hours a day.
“It was a great help, besides the people you meet. It was something in my account.” But he’s not able to do that now.
“I’ve been sick the last six months. It’s hard for me to get down on the bus [to pick up papers]. I miss my customers. Some of them were pretty good friends. One lady sent me a couple of books; she’s always giving me what she’s read. Keeps my mind off my situation.”
Being stuck inside weighs on Abias.
“Waiting is the hardest. I want treatment.”
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