Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Please, just go

I’m crossing all my fingers and toes today. A client of mine has been on a housing transfer list since 2006. She has been in supportive housing since 2004, when the housing agency made an “in situ” arrangement for a family member to rent to her, as he was going to let her live in the first and second floor of a semi-detached that he owns. This seemed ideal at the time (I’m told) because she has two children of disparate ages and three bedroom housing stock is low.

The situation has not worked out. He constantly asks her for money over and above the rent to pay for household bills, utilities, and improvements. She frequently gives in because, hey: she doesn’t want the lights to go out of the heat turned off. She has multiple complex health issues, and is on disability so she has funded this largely through a line of credit and credit cards. She is in DEEP debt. And majorly stressed. The effects on her mental health and family life have been devastating. I would go so far as to say there has been financial and emotional abuse happening.

About one year ago I started calling the housing agency to get an update on her transfer. Somewhat understandably, these things are not always a priority compared to new client’s who haven’t even been housed yet. The agency was able to show her one unit, but she didn’t take it. It was in a neighbourhood far removed from just about everything, and her daughter would not be able to get to her high school (she attends a special program). Understandable, but frustrating for all that it didn’t work out.

Fast forward one year. She’s been doing relatively well given the circumstances, and we’ve been working a lot on goal plans. We realized together that the housing issue is creating a huge obstacle to most of her other goals and aspirations. Since it’s been a year, I call the housing agency for updates, and to impress on them how urgent this situation has become. I do an email follow up and cc: the manager just to make sure we aren’t forgotten about.

Well that did the trick!

Two days later a unit has been found for her to view. We went to see it yesterday. It’s in a great neighbourhood, near the schools, nicely kept building and clean, good sized unit. She seemed to like it, but had one major concern which I’m really hoping will not sabotage the whole venture. If she says no to this one, she only gets one more chance.

Our work is supposed to be client driven, but I admit I was not unbiased with my client yesterday. I talked up what I thought were the good points, I printed out a map for her of the area, highlighting access to services, routes to school etc. I suggested ways that I thought we could work around her ONE concern.

She has to decide today. I hope she takes it.

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