Lauren Barnett of Clinton Street has struggled with homelessness while living in the City of Newburgh, just a little over three years after moving here from Texas.
Barnett currently shares a child with a former partner. Following the separation, the struggles only got worse. “My experience living as a tenant, not only where I am now, but you know in the past, it’s just been a struggle,” Barnett said.
While living together, Barnett remembers being pregnant with her son and living with her partner and his daughter on South Robinson Avenue. The apartment where they lived had no electricity at all. Heat issues, bed bugs and rodents also made the living conditions difficult. The former couple sought legal help against the landlord. The family then became homeless for a time, jumping from hotel to hotel.
Eventually, the family got an apartment on Grand Street, but then the couple separated and it was just her and her toddler.
Again, Barnett was in a hotel and another shelter for a time being. After that, Barnett spent time with Safe Homes of Orange County and then Project Life. After a time, Barnett saved money for her own apartment and found one on 6 William Street. That apartment was also a difficult experience for her due to living conditions and cleanliness within the building.
As of now, Barnett lives with her toddler on Clinton Street. She moved into her current apartment back in February with no heat or hot water. She had no hot water in the apartment for the last eight months. She does not want to bathe her son in cold water. “I’m just really angry,” Barnett said. Barnett has called for legal counsel to help her with her case. “I’m begging, I just need to live in a habitable environment,” Barnett said.
Barnett said her rent for the apartment is $1000 a month flat and that is what she can afford at the moment. “I’m terrified of being homeless again,” Barnett said. As a temporary worker, Barnett is not paid for the time that she is not at work and so with limited funds, planning out the next week is a struggle.
Barnett says she needs people to recognize the struggles of homelessness can happen to anyone. “A lot of people don’t understand homelessness and rent control,” Barnett said. “A lot of people don’t understand the damage that it does to families.”
Barnett thanks the organizations (Safe Homes of Orange County and Project Life) that have helped her along the way. “There are amazing people here and organizations that help Newburgh because we’re an underserved community,” Barnett said.
Barnett plans to attend the next City of Newburgh council meeting to reach out for help with her situation.
Since the conversation with Barnett, the hot water has been restored to her unit.
A spokesperson for Fidelity Real Estate Management stated that the water system in this older building was having troubles due to a specific pump part that needed to be replaced. The specific pump in the unit circulates hot water. The pressure for the water was not staying consistent but there was water available intermittently for the unit the spokesperson stated. The spokesperson stated it took some time for the part to arrive due to COVID supply restrictions but was replaced.