Voice of a Guest: Edward
Edward is a freelance commercial artist with an ample portfolio of comic book illustrations, some which he would like to use to develop a new video game. But, Edward’s been coming to the soup kitchen regularly this summer, as a second round of economic troubles in the last fifteen years has forced him into homelessness.
Edward developed a successful career when he first came to New York in 1975 as an aspiring freelance commercial artist. This came to an end 1999 when his wife was diagnosed with liver disease and he had to spend more and more time as her caretaker. By June of 2000, things had hit a crisis point with her health and for the next two months he wasn’t able to accept any work as he sat with her though her last days. Within a couple of weeks, while still dealing with the grief from that loss, he found himself out on the streets, looking for shelter. His wife had been the last tenant paying rent controlled prices in their apartment building. She had lived there before they got married, and it was her name on the lease. “I could have been put on an inheritance list but I didn’t know about it,” Edward says. With the primary tenant deceased, the landlord raised the rent and Edward found himself on the streets. That was his first time needing a hot meal and found one on a regular basis at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
Edward’s spirit prevailed and by 2005 he was once again working, earning money and back on his feet financially. He had also fallen in love with another creative spirit, a massage therapist. The two of them were married and enjoyed the lucrative income of two successful professionals.
“But we got sucked right into the housing bubble,” he says. “She wanted to live near her family so we found a place in Connecticut, near a MetroNorth station, where I could still come into the city to work.” Things were only looking up when the housing crash hit.
“They had told us they could ‘make it work’ when we signed the mortgage papers,” he recalls of the mortgage signing process. “What that meant was a floating interest rate. I just signed the papers but didn’t really understand. Our rate went from 18% to 58% in a couple of months and we were suddenly hundreds of dollars behind.” The next thing he knew, he was bankrupt and heartbroken too by the break up of his recent marriage.
With his marriage broken, and all his assets depleted Edward decided to come back to New York to work on his art career again, which requires new skills in digital graphic arts. Today, he is living in a men’s homeless shelter and is once again coming to the Soup Kitchen for strength to get through every day.