Home For The Holidays: Ingrid and John In recent months, the outreach team at Crossroads has been helping many people who have never been homeless before, and most of them have no idea what kind of help is available to them. Carlos, a Crossroads outreach employee, recently heard about an older couple, Ingrid and John, who lost their home and were temporarily staying with a friend. Carlos found out that John had lost his job of many years when his company downsized. His wife, Ingrid, was very sick and suffering from complications of advanced diabetes. John couldn’t bring himself to tell her that he had lost his job, and while he was able to collect unemployment insurance, he let her think that he was going to work every day. When Ingrid’s condition became acute, she entered the hospital, and her leg had to be amputated. By that time, John’s unemployment benefits had run out, and he couldn’t pay the rent. They were evicted from the apartment, and they had no health insurance or savings to help them stabilize their situation. There was no money for the medicine to help Ingrid bear the excruciating pain from the amputation, no way to buy food, and they did not know where to turn for help. At first, they stayed with a friend who could offer no more than shelter—he ate at his workplace (a catering company) and had no money to help them with their other needs.
“I knew I had to find a way to help them,” Carlos says. “I found two desperate people in dire need of emergency assistance, and I took them to Crossroads. Ingrid was able to receive health care, treatment and pain management services at the on-site Providence Community Health Centers clinic.” With the help of Crossroads’ Case Advocate, Deidre Jones, Ingrid and John entered the Crossroads Couples Shelter where they are receiving the services they need while they work together to rebuild their lives.
Although John has a disability, Tourette Syndrome, which sometimes makes life difficult for him, he has worked all his life without any public assistance. But now, as he is getting older, it is harder for him to find work, especially during these harsh economic times in Rhode Island. With Deidre’s help, both Ingrid and John have begun the process of applying for disability benefits that will give them income to qualify for supportive housing and access to health care.
Although their suffering has lessened somewhat, Ingrid and John still face a long wait to gain approval for disability benefits, health care and housing assistance. Thanks to RI DHS efforts to expedite SNAP (food assistance) applications for homeless people, this struggling couple has resources now to purchase food, and they can continue to get health care at the Crossroads clinic. The Crossroads Couples Shelter is spacious, has private rooms for couples and offers shared kitchen space that allows guests to prepare meals. But living in a shelter takes getting used to after having been independent all their lives and they are working hard with their case advocate to transition to permanent housing.