Authors: Jonathan Danforth and Michael Garcia, Houston Area Community Services
*Client's name changed to protect privacy.
JN* is a wheelchair-bound, 55 year-old, African American man. He struggled in the midst of poverty and homelessness for most of his life and had found it difficult to find food and a safe and secure place to sleep for the past several years. His physical disability made traveling difficult and he was frequently an easy target for thieves and predators.
JN's situation is unique; born at home in a small country town in South Texas, there was no birth certificate filed to record his birth. Not being able to prove his identity with a birth certificate made JN's life even more difficult. He could not get a government-issued ID card, work a paid full-time job, open a bank account, nor many things that others take for granted. With no proof of identity for the last 55 years, JN has also not been eligible for most social services, including housing programs. Given the circumstances, JN was convinced that his life would end on the streets of Houston.
Through a Coordinated Access referral, an I-Care (1115 Medicaid Waiver) case manager with Houston Area Community Services (HACS) was sent to meet with JN in the grocery store parking lot where he had been living at the time. After hearing the client's story, the caseworker knew that JN's situation was challenging and would require collaboration from multiple entities. After a series of phone calls, referrals, and investigations, the case worker was able to link JN to the Compass for assistance in obtaining identification. Through four months of interagency collaboration and a lot of effort from the client, he was able to obtain a Houston Police Department Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) ID card. Provisions were then made possible by New Hope Housing and the Houston Housing Authority to allow the client to move into his very own Single Room Occupancy (SRO) apartment.
JN has been one of the more difficult 1115 Medicaid Waiver clients to navigate through the process to housing. It took more than four months from the initial outreach engagement to getting JN into housing, but the HACS ARCH Program outreach and I-Care Program teams, and other partners of The Way Home were determined to get him off the streets.
JN recently moved into his apartment with new bedding, pots and pans, and other household items that his case manager was able to help him put away and organize. The I-Care Program team was also able to fill JN's refrigerator with donated food from SNAP Kitchen. JN no longer has to face worried and restless nights of sleep, nor worry about being hungry on the streets. His appreciation for all of the hard work and effort from HACS and other partners of The Way Homewas on display when he was handed the keys to his new apartment.