Making an Impact: There’s No Place Like Home

In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

JFS client Liz has right side weakness resulting from a gunshot wound to her head. She has suffered several strokes caused by the lack of blood flow to her brain.

Sometime around 2016 Liz’s nephew moved her to Minnesota from Cleveland. He was visiting during a family reunion and had concerns about Liz’s overall care. She was quite thin and unkept. He put his aunt in his car and brought her to Minnesota.

Liz attended an adult day program regularly and moved to an adult living home to be closer to the program. It wasn’t long before the JFS case manager started receiving emails from the home’s administrator. Liz was arguing with her housemates. Eventually her behavior escalated to hitting others with her cane, hiding knives under her pillow and running into others with her electric scooter. Calls were made to 911 several times.

The case manager met with Liz to discuss strategies like walking away and taking the high road. With a severe housing shortage, the case manager needed time to find a home that would be a better fit for her. “Please just try these strategies. I need more time to find a home for you,” begged the case manager. “It is possible that you will be removed from this home by the police if you keep this up, and then I won’t be able to help you.” Liz had tears running down her face. They both knew this home was not a good fit for her, but that she had to hang on a bit longer.

The case manager decided to find an independent living skills specialist to help Liz. The specialist would visit twice each week to run errands with her, go for a walk, and go with her to doctor appointments. But finding this specialist took time, and before that plan could be implemented, the home gave notice that she had five weeks to find a new place to live. If there was another incident, Liz would be removed by the police immediately.

Liz’s only requirement for her new home was its location. She wanted to remain near her adult day program and continue seeing her doctor on the East side of St. Paul. The case manager contacted many providers, but as soon as they found out that Liz had been asked to leave, they quickly ended the call or quoted an exorbitant cost for rent.

The case manager stumbled upon a different provider network directory during a Google search. The provider said, yes, they were looking to serve someone on a disability waiver. They could accommodate someone in a wheelchair, and they were located exactly where Liz wanted to be. The owner of the home asked if Liz could come to lunch at the home. She barreled through the back door and exclaimed, “I like this place already! I’m packed. When can I move in?”

It took lots of paperwork and a couple weeks, but Liz moved into her new home. She called the case manager said, “Thank you! I love it here,” and abruptly hung up. After 12 months in her new home, Liz still loves it. Many neighbors know Liz by name and enjoy taking her to lunch often. The owner of the home said that Liz recently came home carrying two bikes using her scooter and left arm. The case manager’s heart sank. “Oh no, did she steal them?” she said with dread. “No,” the owner laughed. “She found them in the trash and brought them home to fix up and give to someone who needs them.”