When Fairview Hospital suspended elective surgeries due to the COVID pandemic, Housatonic resident Jessica Winn left her role as a day surgery nurse to support withdrawn COVID patients, working at the center testing and administering vaccines. If you received an injection at one of the college clinics, they may have administered it to you.

Winn went back to work in day surgery for us, but her town was no longer there for her. On January 31, 2022, she signed the closing papers for a double-wide trailer at Allendale Pines Park in Pittsfield and moved in shortly after with her two teenage sons.

This story begins the day she left her husband in the summer of 2020. We spoke on January 30, 2022:

I was going to be homeless. We had nowhere to go. Thanks to word of mouth, thank goodness my friend was moving out of her three bedroom duplex in Housatonic, so we moved there. We paid $1,500 per month. He really took care of us for the first year after we moved. It’s really calmed down. It was nice! The children did not want to move.

I was told in October that the owner wanted to sell the property because the tenant on the other side was quite troublesome. I had no problem. They have been wonderful. They saved us.

Jessica Win. Photo provided

I pretty much had a one-sided mind, trying to find a place to live. That’s all I did for six months. My significant other was looking for houses, apartments, etc. every day. He sent me stuff all day, but everything was outrageously expensive. [A business in Lenox] rented me a house in November, and they wanted first, last, and security, so $3,400 plus $1,800. They wanted it before the first of the month. I had the last and security, $3,400. But I just paid my $1,500 rent [in Housatonic] so I said, “Can I give you half this week and half next week?” I just paid rent. I will be helpless.

The guy who rents the place said, “I’ll call the owners. He called me back. “No, they’ll go with the next person.”

I had already given notice. I had already rented a van. They wanted their money, and I could have paid it, but that would have left me with absolutely no money for a week until my next paycheck. This rent did not include anything. You had to do your own plowing, your own lawn, you had to take care of all your utilities, for $1,800 a month. This is the cheapest place I have found.

There was a three-bedroom apartment on the Hill in Great Barrington for $4,000 a month. I called the guy and said, “I’m a local girl and I want you to tell me what job I need to get to pay $4,000 a month for an apartment.”

He said, “Well, I can get somebody here from New York and pay like nothing happened.” That’s what he told me.

I have three very good friends who are in the same situation as me seven months ago. A friend of mine has a husband, a dog, a cat and two children. They rent a house in Canaan. The landlady is in trouble so she has to go back to the house and they have to find a place to live. There is nothing. She is hysterical. She has chest pains. She can’t even function because she doesn’t know what to do.

Then I have another friend with her husband and two small children, and their house is sold, so they have to find a place. They have her husband’s brother who is mentally and physically disabled and they take care of him, so she needs at least a three-bedroom house. Nothing.

And then another friend and her daughter. They got a great little one bedroom apartment that they could afford. She has a boyfriend she dated in high school, and he asked her to move in, so she loses her apartment. They have lived together for eight months. He breaks up with her and now she has to find a place for her and her daughter and there’s nothing for a one bedroom apartment under $1,200. The girl works at McDonald’s to earn money. It’s horrible.

Allendale Pines aerial photo via mobilehome.net

I am now moving to Pittsfield because we have found a brand new three bedroom, two bathroom manufactured home. I pay $121,000. I have a side yard. I have a back yard. The bike path passes behind my house. I’ll sign the papers at 8:30 tomorrow morning, and as soon as I hand over those checks and sign that paper, the anvil of weight that’s been on my chest for hopefully four months will finally go away. My car is packed. I’ll sign those papers and unload the car.

They put two more after mine, and now the lot is full. I have like double the space of everyone to my left. Sardines is what I would say one side of the lot. Our side is more spaced out. They have built two other houses which are not finished and which have already been sold. I know a few people from South County who have been here a long time.

I love it. I mean, it’s a double-wide trailer, there’s no two ways around it. But they call it a manufactured home. There are real windows. I have a master bedroom and a bathroom with a walk-in shower and walk-in closet, and a tub that can fit four people. And the boys have their own bathroom and I have a laundry room and a nice kitchen. The kitchen is equipped with brand new stainless steel appliances.

The boys went for bike rides every evening. Michael traveled 24 miles. He did the whole course. My significant other is here most nights cooking for us because I’m still broke as a joke. But I did it myself. I’m pretty proud of myself, being a single mom with two kids. This way no one is going to fire me for owning it.

My best friends are all in Litchfield, Connecticut and Sheffield. We love Adam’s cafe and brewery. But other than that, it’s pretty much “Fuck you, Barrington.” It is now a 39 minute drive to work for me every day. I’ll have to drive my son to Big Y [in Great Barrington] at 7 a.m. This way, I can work roughly from 7:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. That almost gives me my eight and a half hour shift. I’m just going to have to use some saved time. But that’s what you literally have to do to be able to find accommodation in Berkshire County. My friend says our children will never be able to afford a home where we all grew up.