Ms. Z is a 62 year-old who immigrated to the United States and has worked in healthcare for the same employer for 22 years. Last year, she had to undergo surgery and was unable to return to full-time work. She was able to work part-time but her health and financial issues became overwhelming. Ms. Z called 2-1-1 when she lacked the funds to cover her utility bill and mortgage, and was connected to Care for Elders Access Network. Through the Network, she began working with Gloria Berendzen, a lead case manager within the Economic Independence Initiative (EI2). Ms. Berendzen did a comprehensive assessment with Ms. Z and found she rotated which monthly bills she would pay because her income couldn't cover them all. She contacted Sandra Harris, a financial coach with Family Services of Greater Houston, an EI2 partner. Together, they met with Ms. Z and reviewed her financial information including her income and expenses, and created a plan to improve her economic stability. Ms. Z reports after working with her case manager and financial coach on her financial challenges, she wishes she had reached out for help earlier. Ms. Z's story represents how new partnerships through EI2 are improving the financial well-being of Houston's older adults.
Mr. H and his Wife Save their Home
Mr. H and his wife have lived in their house for more than 30 years. It's the home where they raised their children and connected them to the Heights community.When a window unit started to leak, causing the kitchen wall to deteriorate, they began to worry about keeping up with the costs of maintaining their home.Mr. H and his wife are retired and like many older adults, social security is their only source of income.Their income was able to cover their basic expenses and although they tried to save the money needed for this repair, were not able to save enough.
Over time, the leak caused the siding on Mr. H's house to rot and fall off. The damage created a hole on the inside of the kitchen wall and Mr. H worried it would collapse.Mr. H's neighbor was also concerned about the safety of the couple's home and called the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way Helpline on their behalf.Through 2-1-1, Mr. H was connected to Care for Elders Access Network and received case management services from Catholic Charities.
When Catholic Charities case manager, Nichole Vander Veer, first met Mr. H and his wife, they were both in a constant state of worry over their damaged home.As an Access Network partner, Ms. Vander Veer was able to request support for their home repair through Care for Elders Flexible Funding Pool.The damaged wall was repaired and the house repainted.When Ms. Vander Veer visited the couple after the repairs were made, Mr. H looked relieved and happily reported "a weight has been lifted off of our shoulders!"
Mr. D's Trouble with Reverse Mortgage
When Nichole Vander Veer, Catholic Charities case manager, first met with 78 year old Mr. D, he was having difficulty understanding the very grave situation in was in financially.Mr. D was not aware he owed over $2,100 in back taxes and even after thorough explanation was still confused about what had happened.
Mr. D initially took out a reverse mortgage in the amount of $187,000 to remodel his home, choosing to receive the full amount in a lump sum.He came from a family that had many rental properties and when his father passed away, he was given "a lot of money" but admittedly lost it all due to living beyond his income. Mr. D lost many of the rental properties that his parents owned and passed on to him but still has one property that allows for four separate rentals. Ms. Vander Veer recognized Mr. D's impaired judgment and possible depression as serious factors in defaulting on his reverse mortgage. In addition, he was struggling to stay organized and collect rent due from his tenants; and was poorly managing his $800 monthly Social security check.
Ms. Vander Veer reported, "This client, I believe, needs a lot of help in organizing his bills and financial paperwork. He states that the disorganization causes him a lot of "stress and depression."When administering the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) he scored a 10 out of 15, 15 being the highest level of depression."
She spent the day cleaning off his desk including opening mail and helping Mr. D to develop organization skills and systems that worked for him.After they finished opening all of his mail, she wiped the desk down with Windex.This one success, having a clean and organized space helped motivate him to start working on other tasks, which had previously seemed impossible.Today Mr. D opens and organizes his mail, usesa bill payment plan and is working with his reverse mortgage lender to pay off the back taxes he owes.
Recently, Ms. Vander Veer retested the client using the same depression scale as she had done before.The new score was 4, meaning he showed no or few symptoms of depression. Together with the support of his case manager, Mr. D is better prepared to face his financial challenges and make sustainable changes that will prevent him from going into default again.
Mr. Parsons has known how good life can get. He also knows how tough it can be - that's when we met him. A retired investment banker, Mr. Parsons never expected to have to ask for help. But when he needed it, he called 2-1-1 and was connected to the Care for Elders' Access Network. Through the Network he received case management services and support from the Flexible Funding Pool that allowed him to have critical dental work done; he also received assistance from our Field Specialist with enrolling in utility programs. Meet Mr. Parsons in the video below, he can tell you how Care for Elders helped him when it mattered most.
Ms. M is alive. After losing her job, things had gone from bad to worse. In order to make ends meet, she had used a payday lender to cover a $400 car expense so she could go back to work as a home care attendant. Over a period of three months, Ms. M paid a whopping $1,600 in interest but was not able to afford paying the original $1,200 loan. The lender would call three times a day, wanting the loan payment.
With an eviction notice and stacks of unpaid bills before her, Ms. M picked up the phone and dialed 2-1-1 for help. The elder care expert she spoke to found an older adult in an unfortunate and yet, common situation. Ms. M lived on the edge of financial stability in the best of times, but losing her job pushed her into crisis.
Ms. M was connected with Access Network partner Sheltering Arms Senior Services for case management services.Upon initial assessment, the case manager found Ms. M in an apartment with no heat or lights, and using an ice chest as a refrigerator. She was living without food or needed medications and doctor's visits. Ms. M's family was struggling as much as she was or even more; leaving her alone, depressed and worried about her future.
The case manager began arranging and coordinating services for Ms. M and worked with her to access new housing, health care and social services.The case manager also partnered with Adult Protective Services to address Ms. M's looming eviction. Care for Elders' field specialist delivered food and medication to Ms. M; helped her complete applications for utility assistance, food stamps and housing; and advocated for her rights with the predatory payday lender.
"Mama" is what the couple Ms. M moved in with calls her. It is an affordable and safe rental house, with lights on and food in the new refrigerator, purchased through Care for Elders' Flexible Funding Pool. Ms. M started a new part-time job and proudly, can pay her bills. Ms. M's story reflects the impact of coordinated services, committed professionals and flexible funds on a deadly situation; her success is our story.
Ms. Greene is 64 years old, lives alone, and is diabetic. She called 211 when facing eviction from her apartment.She was immediately connected to a Care for Elders Enhanced I&R Specialist who identified multiple needs and referred her to Jewish Family Service, one of the Access Network partners providing case management services.
Ms. Greene did not have sufficient funds for rent because of an error made by Social Security in the premium deducted from her monthly Social Security check for her Medicare-QMB.She needed help resolving the billing error and the subsequent financial problems it created over a two-month period, i.e. her ability to pay rent, utilities, purchase food and other necessary items.
As a partner in Care for Elders Access Network, Jewish Family Service was able to coordinate a variety of community resources that provided emergency food for Ms. Greene.However, it was only because of CFE's Flexible Funding Pool that Ms. Greene was able to pay her rent and avoid eviction from her apartment, plus purchase other critical, non-food items.
Ms. Jones is a fragile 82 year old female who has experienced poverty first hand. She is a very friendly and sweet woman who writes poems and loves to recite these poems to the case manager on each visit. The client stated that she has written these poems since she was young and has many volumes of her creative work.
Living on a very limited income and receiving minimal assistance with food stamps, Ms. Jones basic life style has become one of survival. The client is also receiving additional stress because her daughter is now living with her and is unemployed. At the initial home visit to Ms. Jones, the case manager discovered that she was very low on food and needed assistance in getting her electric bill paid on time. In addition, she had recently had to go to the apartment manager to request financial arrangements in paying her rent, due to her high electric and gas bills.
The client was in great fear of being evicted - she had always kept her finances in order. She was worried that her bills were getting out of control. The case manager helped her through her anxiety by letting her know that Sheltering Arms had a utility assistance program that could assist her with her utility bills. After submission of the documentation to the Sheltering Arms CEAP program, the client received a substantial amount of funds toward her electric bills. The case manager also, with Ms. Jones' permission, spoke with the apartment manager to let her know that it was very nice of her to help the client not be evicted.
Ms. Jones was greatly relieved that she had found an agency that could help her with her financial issues.With assistance with her electric bills, she was able to use her money toward other critical things like food, clothes, and other daily necessities.