Friday, December 2, 2011

A Thanksgiving Story

By Felix Lopez

On November 10, a homeless family was referred to GMHC. The family consisted of a mother and six children. Two of the children were pregnant. The family had lived in a one bedroom apartment until October, when the landlord, aware that the father had died of AIDS in September and fearful that the remaining family members couldn’t afford to pay rent, put the family on the street. The family eventually sought shelter in a church basement, which is where they were living when they were referred to us. Deborah Welch, Assistant Director, and her team immediately went to work to help the family enroll in our Sustainable Living Fund program which provides rental assistance to eligible New York City residents who have symptomatic HIV/AIDS. The Sustainable Living Fund works in partnership with community based organizations that provide services to individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Within five days, Deborah and her team had processed the enrollments and secured the money to pay for a new apartment for the family. On November 15, the family left the church basement they had been occupying and moved into a four-bedroom apartment. The family’s ongoing rent will be paid by the Sustainable Living Fund.

There is a sad note to the story. Earlier today we learned that one of the pregnant daughters has lapsed into a coma and lost her baby.

As a member of the GMHC staff, I am very proud that we were able to help this family get into stable housing, especially with winter around the corner. I am also very proud of the work of the SLF team: Deborah, Theodura, Yesenia, and Elizabeth.


Felix Lopez is the Director of Legal Services at GMHC.

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