Out of crisis, into security
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Out of crisis, into security

October 24, 2012

Ms. H, 76, came to the attention of the Cleveland Department of Aging, an NCOA supported Economic Security Service Center, in late June 2011. Her foster daughter, who lives out of town, called with concern because the utilities in Ms. H’s home had been disconnected for non-payment.

Living in dangerous conditions

Ms. H was resistant to receive any help. After 10 outreach visits, the Department determined that the next course of action was to seek a search warrant through the Department of Building and Housing because of the conditions of Ms. H’s home. Ms. H was living only on the enclosed porch and using kerosene heaters. After getting inside the home, Building and Housing issued a vacate order and a condemnation order. Adult Protective Services (APS) made a home visit with a physician and determined that Ms. H was mentally competent, but living in extremely poor conditions.

Ms. H had no source of income and was unwilling at the time to talk to the Social Security Administration to obtain retirement benefits. Throughout this time, she was offered a stay at the Senior Guest House, an emergency housing facility for seniors, operated by a partner agency with the Economic Security Project. In late November, it was determined that the condemnation and vacate order must be acted on because she was not relocating on her own. With the help of a local mental health agency and the Commander of the Police Department, Ms. H was taken first to a psychiatric emergency room for one night, then on to the Senior Guest House.

Getting her financial footing

Ms. H stayed at the Senior Guest House for three months and during this time, with the support of a social worker, met with the Social Security Administration to apply for her retirement benefit, which included a monthly amount of $1,150 and a $6,000 back payment.

She also had credit card debt and a large utility bill balance. Her Department case manager assisted Ms. H with signing up for a transportation program and completing a BenefitsCheckUp screening.

Ms. H used the transportation service to search for housing. A phone call was made to the utility companies, which forgave the utility balance since the bills were still in her deceased mother’s name. Ms. H used the lump sum she received from the Social Security back payment to pay off her credit card debt.

By February, Ms. H found new housing on the east side of Cleveland and is getting used to her new home. In the nine months since the Department first saw Ms. H in crisis, they helped her to move 68% closer to the standard of economic security.


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