Milagros, Moving Forward
After four years in a shelter, Milagros and her children found safety and stability when she moved into one of our apartments: “When I first received the keys to my apartment I was filled with joy. I can’t even describe it any other way, it’s like a new beginning.”
Watch this video to hear her story.
Joe, A New Future
Joe was 18 when his mother was murdered by her abuser. Despite surviving the trauma of the violent loss of his mother and being abused himself, he did not receive any supportive services for over one year. Homeless, he was living among multiple family members and had to move frequently. Finally, the District Attorney in charge of his mother’s case referred him to the Queens Family Justice Center (FJC) and he began to receive intensive case management and was able to access the FJC’s on-site supportive services, including mental health counseling.
Joe’s FJC case manager also referred him to the HousingLink Coordinator, who conducted a thorough housing assessment, and in collaboration with Joe, developed a comprehensive Housing Action Plan that outlined the steps Joe needed to take to reduce barriers to housing. Although Joe had sufficient income to rent an apartment in a privately-owned building, he had significant rent arrears and multiple negative accounts on his credit report as a result of a family member stealing his identity. Additionally, a request to transfer to a new apartment with his Section 8 voucher was inappropriately handled and he ended up in housing court.
HousingLink staff referred Joe to the Financial Clinic for financial counseling and to address the negative credit. Within three months, HousingLink was able to connect Joe to a safe, affordable, studio apartment. He continues to work with an FJC case manager, and with Catholic Charities to obtain funds to settle the rent arrears, and HousingLink provides aftercare to help in remain stable in his housing. And he’s begun to see the results of his work with the Financial Clinic by having access to affordable financial services and a saving plans.
Once he had a stable home, Joe was able to think about his future. He applied to community college and is currently a freshman. He also works part-time and is considered a great asset to his employer, receiving two raises within a few months.
“Housinglink has been nothing but outstandingly helpful in assisting me to receive housing,” Joe says about the program. “From staying on top of me with updates and notifications to making sure I’m alright with anything I need, HousingLink staff has provided me with nothing but amazing services and I am overly grateful to them.”
Celia, On Track
Celia, a mother of nine year old twin girls, was referred to HousingLink and within a few weeks had completed an application for an apartment, had been interviewed by the landlord and had viewed the apartment. She was on track to moving into her new home. Unfortunately, when Celia went to re-visit the unit to plan her commute, the location of her children’s school, etc. she ran into her abuser and realized he lived in the neighborhood. Celia remained safe, but she needed to secure an apartment in a different area. The problem was that her Section 8 voucher had expired and it was her third request for an extension (normally only two extensions are allowed) it was unclear if she would be able to keep the voucher. The HousingLink Coordinator, in collaboration with the Family Justice Center case manager advocated on her behalf with the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development staff. As a result, Celia received a Section 8 voucher, and HousingLink was able to connect her to another two bedroom apartment.
Chantal, a New Beginning
Chantal moved into a New Destiny apartment from a domestic violence shelter almost two years ago with her two young children. In her short 23 years, Chantal had already faced great challenges. After leaving foster care at 18, she chose marriage as a way of finding stability and soon became pregnant. During her pregnancy, her husband’s verbal abusiveness escalated to more physical acts. As her pregnancy progressed, so did the abuse. It was months after the birth of her daughter before the rage seemed to soften. Two years later, she found herself pregnant again—and again the abuse escalated.
Chantal knew she needed to leave—but just didn’t know how. After one particularly frightening incident, she found the courage. With just a diaper bag and a few personal belongings, she and her toddlers landed in shelter. She was approved for a housing voucher and was accepted for a New Destiny apartment. Through our on-site Family Support Program, the building’s Tenant Support Coordinator helped her enroll in a nursing assistant program, find day care and obtain benefits for her and her children. Chantal, like most domestic violence survivors, had many barriers to overcome. On top of making safety plans for court appearances and custody hearings, she often had hearings for public benefit or a sick child on an important school day – it seemed endless and she was often depressed and anxious.
But, she remained determined to complete the training program. After graduation, she continued to work with the Tenant Support Coordinator to make a job search plan, prepare her resume and conduct a successful search. In a matter of months, Chantal found a job.
Although Chantal still had to deal with her abusive ex-husband on visitation, she felt stronger and more confident. The New Destiny environment offered her a sense of safety and she made new friends with neighbors at the building’s annual holiday party. Comforted by a supportive community, she was moving forward and feeling good.
Just as Chantal was feeling in control of her life, she learned that her rental subsidy program was being terminated by the City and she would be obligated for 100% of her rent. She again worked with the Tenant Support Coordinator to create a budget so she could pay rent and meet her other obligations.
Chantal has managed to stay current with her rent and has built a new support system. She continues to seek out the Tenant Support Coordinator to help her work through her challenges and achieve her goals and dreams for her family.