Posted by Jon Federman
Bob* had been a member of a temple on the North Shore when, through a series of events, he found himself homeless this summer. Members of his congregation had been paying for Bob to stay at local hotels while other members had put him up in their own homes for a few nights. He also stayed with friends from time to time but none of these offered any long-term solution to the problem Bob was facing. The rabbi saw that Bob's immediate needs were becoming too great for the temple community and suggested to Bob that he contact JF&CS.
Together, Bob and JF&CS care manager Mary worked on applications for low-income housing but the situation progressed slowly. Mary convinced Bob to stay in a local homeless shelter until they could find a more permanent solution but there were no beds available. The situation was becoming desperate. Bob hinted that he was staying at Kinko's – a copy center that was open 24 hours. Mary contacted a former professor who was also Board President of the Lifebridge Shelter in Salem. The professor was able to arrange an immediate place for Bob at the shelter.
With his short-term housing needs met, Mary worked to find him a subsidized apartment. Although there was a good chance of finding a subsidized apartment in Hudson, nearly 60 miles away, she worried that he would be too far from the community that was so important to him. She had heard about a subsidized building in Peabody that was going through their waiting list quickly. Not only was it closer to where Bob wanted to be, it was a building with an older adult population that had a visiting nurse once a week, as well as programming for its elderly residents. Against all odds, the timing for a vacancy was just right and Bob was offered an apartment there. He moved in on November 1.
JF&CS connected Bob with our partner organizations such as Yad Chessed, which helps local Jewish individuals and families facing economic distress, and Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, which has a free furniture bank for formerly homeless people like Bob. Together, JF&CS and these organizations were able to not only provide free furniture for Bob but also pay for the expenses involved in moving those furnishings into Bob's new home.
"The transition from homelessness can be difficult," says Mary. "But Bob is doing well. He's very grateful and happy to be where he is. He is right in the center of Peabody. He can get to stores, his doctors, his synagogue, and has access to public transportation.
"I work closely with many clients to find subsidized housing and it's often a frustrating process given the long waiting lists. It was such a thrill to get Bob into housing so quickly, especially since he was homeless and moving daily between couches and shelters. I really believe that housing has to come first to stabilize clients and allow them to get needed supports to move forward with their lives.
"Bob is an example of good teamwork between programs at JF&CS and our partner organizations like CJP SeniorDirect and Yad Chessed, which all played a role in helping Bob overcome homelessness and remain grounded in his own familiar community."
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.