Brenda worked as an office manager for over thirty years while raising a family as a single mother. Because her health problems escalated, she retired and started receiving Social Security benefits. This is when her financial struggles began. “Everything kept going up! It was the first time in my life that I’d be broke by the 10th of the month,” said Brenda. “My Social Security didn’t cover what it used to.”
Brenda also had another serious problem that impacted her income: she was still paying off a federal student loan from 1993. “I’d been paying $146 a month for years, but when it started coming out of my Social Security, which is under $1,000 a month, I couldn’t afford to pay it.”
After a brief stay in the hospital in 2017 due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Brenda returned to her apartment to discover she was evicted from her home of eight years. “I never thought they would put an older disabled person out on the street,” said Brenda.
“Once I became homeless, I’m afraid I became an inconvenience to my family. I do not blame them at all, because staying with them put them at risk of losing their housing,” said Brenda. “So I began staying in shelters.”
Within days, a friend from the shelter referred Brenda to Elizabeth Gregory Home’s drop-in day center. “EGH is a place where I could come to rest after spending the night in a shelter. The staff members who work at EGH treat you like a person – I feel cared for.”
In addition to accessing meals, showers, laundry, and a place to rest, an EGH volunteer Care Manager began helping her renegotiate her loan payments. At the same time, Michele Martin, who is the EGH Operations Manager and was also homeless in the past, assisted Brenda with locating permanent housing.
After two years of homelessness, Brenda recently received great news: she got into a studio apartment in a building that offers supportive housing. This means that in addition to becoming permanently housed, she has access to support staff on site who help monitor her medications, as well as provide a hot dinner each evening.
There are few options for single adult homeless individuals who are elderly or disabled, but this has proven to be the perfect option for Brenda. “It’s really tiny, but I like it. I can keep it clean and tidy,” said Brenda about her new home. “I’m so happy to be in my own place! I can have my grandkids visit and I’ll cook up my famous sweet potato pie for them.”