The Bill for My Homelessness Was $54,000
Illustration by Rosie Roberts

The Bill for My Homelessness Was $54,000

My descent into homelessness felt as though it happened in the blink of an eye. It was as if one moment I was standing in a meadow next to my horses, stroking their manes, and the next I was lying inside a plastic garbage bag on a park bench, wrapping clothes around my shivering body.

In fact, it happened over the course of 12 devastating months from 2013 to 2014. The house I was renting in Oregon burned down. My mother died of a cancer that, until a short time earlier, no one knew she had. My family fell into a bitter dispute over her inheritance and ostracized me. My beagle died. I was emotionally burdened to the point of being unable to run the business I had owned for nearly a decade, let alone pay my rent. Eventually, I was told to pack my bags and leave the new place I had rented after the fire.

Read the full article in The New York Times.


Lori Teresa Yearwood is a housing crisis reporter for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Her work has been recently featured in the Washington Post, the Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle, the American Prospect, and many other publications.

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Formerly an enterprise reporter for The Miami Herald, Lori Teresa Yearwood is now a trauma-aware journalist focusing on housing inequality across America. Her column, "How Are You Coping With That?" appears monthly in Defector. Additionally, Ms. Yearwood's work has been recently featured in The New York Times, Mother Jones, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. In 2022, she received a Poynter Institute fellowship at Yale University. Having collapsed and emerged from homelessness herself, Ms. Yearwood is working with a literary agent on her memoir.

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