“It’s my own place, my castle.”
Evelyn was in her 40s when she was admitted into a nursing facility. Describing her time in the nursing facility, she said “I have no complaints of the staff, but being in a room 24/7 with nothing to do….was a drag…I needed to get out. Activities were more for the elderly. It’s hard to be in a nursing home with nothing to do.” Evelyn didn’t have affordable housing to return to the community, which prevented her from leaving the facility.
Evelyn was referred to the Moving Forward Program (MFP) Community Living Waiver, and worked with her waiver case manager and with Ad Lib, the local Independent Living Center, to begin a housing search. Sue Smith from Ad Lib worked with Evelyn to apply for as many housing opportunities as possible. Evelyn’s nursing home was in Pittsfield, but she had flexibility about where she would live. Apartments became available through 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) at Fruit Sever in Worcester, and Evelyn worked with Sue to submit her application.
Evelyn was in the nursing facility nearly a year when she moved into her apartment in February, 2019. The MFP Community Living Waiver worked with her to ensure she had furniture and other goods to help make her apartment a home. Evelyn is happy to have her independence back. “I can get up and leave my bedroom to go to the kitchen/bathroom/living room. I can sit and drink my coffee outside of my bedroom. I have my independence, not stuck in one room. I go out into the community when I want to go food shopping, run errands, or visit family. My apartment is spacious and has a porch. It’s my own place, ‘my castle.’”
Fruit Sever Apartments, Worcester
Jermaine sits in the living of his one bedroom, accessible apartment, thoughtful and smiling often as he shares how much his life has changed since moving into his CT – 811 PRA subsidized apartment last summer. As a paraplegic who uses a wheel chair, the need for an accessible apartment was his top priority. Weights from a recent upper body workout are placed carefully in front of his TV. He wouldn't have been able to work out in the nursing home. He proudly shows off his framed photos of Chicago Bulls great, Michael Jordan, and Lakers, Kobe Bryant's first All-Star Basketball game, and photos of Malcolm X conversing with a group of young men a few feet away from Harlem's famous Apollo Theatre. He disclosed it was a great relief when he was approved for this program and eventually, the apartment in which he now resides.
"It (the 811 PRA program) was a positive way for me to adapt back into society and be on my own again. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much because if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be where I am now. I have more stability and things of that nature”. He admits moving to Bridgeport presented a set of challenges. He did not know the area and had to find his way around. “Being in a new city was difficult, but I see it as a new adventure. I am starting to get to know new people, insofar as my place of worship. They have been very supportive of my transition here. It has made me appreciate this opportunity and it was worth the move".
A year ago, I was in a nursing home and due to the 811 program, I have an apartment which makes me want to seek better things for myself. I'm working on trying to get a vehicle. Being here allows me to go to Gaylord Rehab to mentor other people who are newly paralyzed, to give them hope, you know. I now get invited to events, I wouldn't have been able to go if I was still in the nursing facility because of their restrictions. I was depressed there.
George is the first resident of the 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) apartments located at the Hayes Building in Haverhill. George is 52 years old, and had been living in a nursing facility for one year when he learned about the Moving Forward Plan Community Living waiver (MFP-CL) available through MassHealth and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). He was anxious to get out of the nursing facility.
Because George had connections to family in the Northeastern part of Massachusetts, he was interested in moving back to the area. When an 811 PRA apartment became available at the Hayes Building, it seemed like the perfect fit.
Now that George has moved in, he's enjoying his days being able to prepare breakfast and listen to the news at home. Through the MFP-CL waiver, George receives Individual Support and Community Habilitation (ISCH), Personal Care and Companion and services, among others. These services assist George with his activities of daily living, help him to build strength, and provide him the necessary means to go shopping and generally exercise his independence. When asked what he likes about his new home, George says, "Everything! Freedom, peace and quiet, (feeling) content. I haven’t felt this good in years!"
Five years ago, when in his early 50s, Deric entered a nursing facility after having a stroke. After two years, he was able to walk some distance using a cane, but used a wheelchair most of the time. He was ready to return to the community, but he had no housing to go to. In 2014 while still in the facility, he met Robin, a Transition Coordinator from Greater Lynn Senior Services. Robin enrolled Deric in the Money Follows the Person Demonstration and started working to identify housing which would meet Deric's accessibility needs. Deric had some barriers to entering the community including having no prior rental history, a previous criminal record, and the need for community supports. Robin worked closely with Deric to resolve these issues and help him apply for the Moving Forward Plan Community Living Waiver, which would provide him with the community services to support him in living in the community.
The Community Living Waiver is a Home and Community Based Services Waiver, funded by Massachusetts' Medicaid program called Mass Health, that provides needed supports for community living. Deric was most interested in Georgetowne Homes and got on the 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) waiting list for an apartment there. Georgetowne Homes, owned by Beacon Properties, signed on as the state's first partner in the 811 PRA process, offering six units at their property to targeted populations. Deric got to the top of the waiting list for this property, and completed the screening process with the support of Robin and his case manager for the Community Living Waiver, Katie. Deric moved into his apartment at Georgetowne Homes in November, 2017.
Deric was nervous about returning to the community after having had total support in the nursing facility for five years, but he is excited to be on his own, have his privacy and be able to come and go as he wants. He is excited to have more freedom and the opportunity to cook again. He stated that he, "accepts the challenge and will win." Deric is grateful for all the hard work the agencies supporting him have done, over a prolonged period, to achieve this goal with him, and says to other people looking to move to the community from a nursing facility, "Do it!!"
PRA gave Tanesha the opportunity to reunite with her children in an affordable apartment after a tragic injury…
Mr. Poole is enjoying the independence he has gained after moving out of an institution and into his very own home…
Before Destiny moved in to her own apartment, she had been living in an over-crowded house with a number of family members. As she neared her 19th birthday, independence became an increasingly important goal. She feared that it might be impossible because of her need for 24/7 medical care and use of a wheelchair.
Happily, for her, Destiny was connected to a housing opportunity through the 811 PRA Program when she reached out to her Department of Social and Health Services case manager for assistance. Within two months, Destiny moved in to a unit. “It makes me feel like I mean something to society. Just because I can't do labor intensive work doesn't mean I can't manage having my own apartment and be an independent person.” A self-proclaimed night-owl, Destiny no longer has to worry about waking her family members if she comes in late.
She likes the mix of residents in her community, all ages and abilities. Through this housing opportunity, Destiny has been able to establish the independence she desired while still having access to any supports she might need along the way.
"Before coming to Easter Seals, I was living in my car for four months, this was after having a falling out with my family. Homeless and looking for a place to live I went to an apartment complex and was told that they didn't have any vacancies; however, there was a program that they had just learned about which came to be 811 PSH [PRA].
Not long after that conversation with the apartment manager I got a call from Easter Seals telling me 'We are going to take care of you.' It seems like only a week went by and they called me and they had a place for me. Because of the opportunity that was given to me I have stability in my life. I was able to be there for my daughter who was born with cerebral palsy. She had got into a bad relationship and reached out to me and I was able to be there for her. She is also able to get the help she needs because of 811 PSH and Easter Seals.
I have been very blessed with some wonderful and supportive people through 811 PSH and Easter Seals. These are two wonderful programs that gave me a new start at life. I'm proof that no matter what if you don't give up there is hope."
Volunteers of America North Louisiana's Embassy House Apartments is a proud participant in HUD's Section 811 PRA Program. Property manager Summer has many positive things to say about her experience. Summer, who has worked in housing for over five years, loves the fact that this building has a diverse tenant population that includes households both with and without rental assistance. All ten of the dedicated 811 units in her building are two bedroom/two bathroom apartments occupied by families who have benefited greatly from the housing opportunity.
Summer has found the lease-up and rental payment process to be straightforward, allowing her to increase the building's occupancy rate from 72% to 96%. She also credits the case managers supporting her 811 tenants. "We wouldn't have been able to get so many families housed so quickly without their hard work. They ironed out the kinks and established step by step processes to get people in without too many barriers. 811 PRA is a benefit to owners who want to be paid on time and to property managers who are responsible for keeping up a building’s occupancy rate." This program has also formed a special place in Summer’s heart.
"Everybody has a past, and I don't want that to hinder their futures. It is thrilling to watch mothers move from tough situations into these apartments where they can do what they need to do for their children."
Mary is one of the first residents of Duck Mill, a newly renovated mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Mary is a 58-year-old woman who was homeless, and then admitted to a nursing facility in 2015. While in the nursing facility, she started working with the Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP) to plan her transition and start a housing search. One of Mary's biggest challenges was finding housing that she could afford. When 811 Project Rental Assistance units became available at Duck Mill, Mary was selected for one of the units and prepared to move in March, 2017. Mary receives help to live independently, including case management, through the MFP-Community Living Waiver. The waiver is a Medicaid program that supports individuals who choose to live in their own homes or apartments rather than in a facility.
The property manager says of Mary, "Mary has been a great addition to our community. She can usually be found sitting out front with a friend or walking the halls of our community. On occasions Mary will stop into our office to say hello and her great smile simply brightens our day. She is responsible with her rent and keeps her home clean. Mary's great attitude and kind sprit have already won her a few friends within our community."
After being in the apartment for a few months, Mary says, "I'm happy being in my own apartment now. I get to come and go as I please. I'm not stuck in my room all day. I even got to go out with my sister a couple of weekends ago. She brought my niece, her husband and my nephew. I wasn't expecting them and they surprised me with a ride. It was so fun. I would have never done that in the facility. It felt so good. Now I'm going to try and get them to take me to the beach. I'm very happy now."