Delores brings two cups of freshly brewed coffee to the table and looks around her kitchen. Her new found sense of comfort, security and permanence makes her choke up with emotion. “I would have been on the streets if it weren’t for Jewish Family Service,” she said.
Just a year earlier, at 60 years old, Delores made a decision to flee from a domestic violence situation. She felt that it was the only thing she could do to save her life. This led to several months of staying in a hotel with reasonable weekly rates, but soon her limited money ran out and she didn’t know where to turn. Delores called JFS for help.
Delores met with a JFS social worker who helped her to make an action plan. Together, they were able to complete the paperwork for supportive services, food stamps and a redetermination hearing for Social Security Disability. A placement at a local female shelter helped keep her off the street while she applied for more permanent housing. Delores also met weekly with a JFS clinical social worker to help her through the emotional turmoil of her transition and coping with a new way of life. She also made regular use of the JFSGNH Food Pantry & Nutritional Health Center while waiting for her food stamp approval.
Delores is now living in permanent supportive housing, where there are two on-site case managers. “So much good happened in the last year and I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t made that first phone call,” she said.
Delores is just one of the many who regularly come to JFS for help. The ever deteriorating economic climate in Greater New Haven County has exacted an enormous financial and psychological toll on our families and our community. Ever since the economic downturn began in 2008 and 2009, JFS has been besieged by requests for assistance from desperate individuals and families grappling with serious crises, such as prolonged bouts of un or underemployment, imminent foreclosures, evictions, impending homelessness, utility shut-offs and food shortages.
JFS does its best to forestall and or mitigate housing crises by simultaneously working with our families via financial and mental health counseling, comprehensive case management, community advocacy, benefits screening, housing dispute mediation, information and referrals and vocational coaching. The target population for our Emergency Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program is individuals and families residing in Greater New Haven County who are confronting homelessness due to dire financial circumstances that threaten their ability to maintain or obtain suitable housing arrangements. Given the overwhelming need in our community for housing assistance, priority has always been given to those who face imminent danger of losing their current homes, and as a result, face potential homelessness. Today, a family in our region needs to earn at least $45,000 to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
In 2016, JFS began its participation in the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network. As such, we provide drop-in intake hours to assist clients with who are at immediate risk of homelessness. Many of our referrals come through The United Way InfoLine 2-1-1. This work is geared toward providing housing diversion interventions, targeting individuals and families at the very critical state as they are applying for entry into shelters.
Unfortunately, JFS receives no state or government funding for our work to combat the scourge of homelessness, and relies on the support of the community and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. Please Save the Date, Saturday, March 25, 2017, and join us in our mission to end homelessness during our special Spring Celebration featuring the music of The Jassmen. Watch www.jfsnh.org and the JFS Facebook page for additional information