Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stairway to Nowhere

Following our traumatic summer last year when we were homeless for nearly 3 months during my pregnancy, I promised myself that when we finally found a suitable apartment it would be one we could stay in for a few years.

We took the place we are in now pretty much out of desperation. It was the last place we looked at and it kinda WAS at the top of our budget. It's a 4 bedroom duplex with a shower and a bath. Our building also has an elevator and an entrance with no stairs, which is perfect when I'd have to deal with a stroller. Being disabled and pregnant, I needed several ameneties to make my life easier but I HAD to have the elevator.

              With my balanced compromised because of my belly, I wasn't taking stairs.

                         Fast forward to baby.
I can't schlep a stroller up or down stairs and I don't have the balance to wear the baby in a baby carrier and just take her down or up the stairs, so it'd be great to stay where we are now, because I have my independence, but I think we have to move again=( I have trauma just looking at apartment rentals online!

Having a landlord from hell and an apartment at the top of our budget, now that we no longer have a live in nanny (thank God!!) we don't need the extra bedroom, so it'd be great to find something cheaper and smaller, but we haven't had any luck finding a suitable place. We live in a city in the foothills of Jerusalem Israel, so nearly every building has stairs. The buildings in this city are fairly old, so chances of them having an elevator are none really. Many ground floor apartments even have stairs leading downward to the apartment.

In our searches, apartments have been listed as disability accessible, but apparently Israelis don't understand what disabled access means. The first apartment we looked at months ago sounded GREAT. Ground floor, totally in our budget and it was at the back of the medical clinic we go to. Best of all it was still in the neighborhood we are in now which we were very happy about. We got Naama ready, put her in the stroller and off we went to look at this apartment. On the way I asked my husband if there were stairs. He said there were a few small stairs. No big deal. I can deal with taking the stroller up and down like 2-3 stairs. Not that I ever tried, but I figure it's the same thing as going on and off a curb with the stroller which is something I do very often.

We get to the building and I see TEN stairs just leading to the courtyard of the building. I was ready to turn around and walk home. But my husband said there may be another entrance. If there was I didn't see it! We got to the entrance of the apartment and I was just in shock! 2-3 stairs my ass! There were at least 8 stairs going STRAIGHT down to the apartment. My husband had a go at the landlord saying that he was told there weren't really stairs etc. The landlord said no no it's OK! He said we could possibly build a ramp over the stairs. I just stared at the guy like he landed from Mars. With the angle and height the stairs were at there was NO way a ramp would even be possible. My husband looked at the apartment anyway. I don't understand why. If I can't get in and out on my own, I don't care if the apartment is a palace!

This situation was only the first of many similar situations. It doesn't seem to matter whether I tell the landlord or agent NO STAIRS in Hebrew or English (even native English speakers), they continually show my husband apartments that have like a flight or a flight and a half of stairs just to get in to the place. Maybe they would understand if I spoke in Swahili?? Geez... I don't know, maybe they just really don't understand that I really CAN'T deal with a stroller and stairs. Maybe they think I will manage?? And my husband God love him, he continues to look at these apartments as if they are actually a possibility!!! As soon as I see stairs, I turn around. No need to waste anyone's time!
Truth is, even if I were completely able bodied, I wouldn't want to schlep a baby and a stroller up and down stairs multiple times a day. If only I could wear a baby carrier...Sometimes I think I want to try it because I have overcome so many other challenges I faced in caring for Naama, but then I come back to my senses. One fall with her on my body and it may be all over. No way am I taking that chance. I wonder if there have been others in my situation who have found a solution...