Story of the Week 5/11/15

Restored Hope

By: Ceire Lennox, Community Support Specialist at the Good Samaritan Haven

000_0105Imagine a scenario with me for a minute. Imagine that you have been seriously injured and you can no longer work. You have lost your job. You can no longer pay your bills and you lose your home. Maybe you don’t have any immediate family, no wife or children, and almost all of your friendships have deteriorated. You find yourself with nowhere to live and no way to gain any income. Now what do you do? Where do you go?

With no idea where to go you call 211, a community resource hotline, and are told to go to the Economic Services Division and apply for emergency housing. The Economic Services Division tells you that you need to reserve a bed at the local emergency overnight shelter. With no other option you choke down a hard lump of tears in your throat and step through the door of a homeless shelter. You have no idea what to expect and everything is uncomfortable. Your case manager helps you apply for Social Security Disability because you are unable to work.  She tells you that the process can take up to a year and that most people are turned down on their first application. Then she informs you that the shelter where you are staying is a 4 month program. Basically, this means that you will not receive any income before you have to leave the shelter, and become literally homeless (like in a tent or something?).  Now you are terrified that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Your case manager suggests that you find a job while you wait for your application determination for SSDI, because it is basically the only way out of your situation…but you cannot work!

The homeless shelter you are staying at is exhausting. Shelter rules dictate that you are out of the shelter from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening, every day. Since you cannot work, you spend your days walking around town or at the library. These long days being “out in the community” are making you sicker and more tired than ever.  The anxiety and stress of being homeless is already difficult enough, but now you are haunted by the thought of being turned down for the disability insurance you so desperately need to survive with the basics.  You dread the possibility of finding yourself living between the homeless shelter and the hospital, wondering, “what if things never get better?” You feel hopeless.

This scenario is all too real for many of my clients, but for one individual at the Good Samaritan Haven hope has been restored! As the Community Support Specialist, I recently helped a man in a very similar scenario with completing his Social Security Disability Insurance Application. We worked together diligently, making sure we had all his ducks in a row. We made sure we didn’t miss anything! Together we were skeptical of his chances of success of being granted his benefit the first time around, let alone before he would have to leave our program, but HE WAS!!!! He was granted his SSDI Benefit and we are now be able to begin the apartment hunt for him. With all of the crises that I see it was a great reminder for me that sometimes good things happen too!

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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