HOUSING - LONG TERM PROJECT
Purchase (or have donated) a multi-family building to prevent homelessness in older women
living in Philadelphia. Women who have (or are) facing foreclosure; widows whose income decreased upon the death of their spouse; many who are forced to move due to
increasing taxes or other household bills; others who have had to leave their homes because of financial, physical, or emotional abuse by children, family or landlords.
RATIONALE: Although there are many shelters for families, young single moms, men of all ages and/or people struggling with addictions, there is "nothing" in the City of Philadelphia to address the needs of older women in crisis - they fall between the cracks.
PROBLEM: There are many senior citizen apartment buildings for low-income seniors but the waiting list as well as the eligibility requirements often exclude thousands of "needy" women, leaving them frustrated, afraid and disillusioned and, in many cases homeless. Of course the retirement facilities are unaffordable for women on low income.
MY TESTIMONY: I lived in a beautiful apartment in a Victorian (Harvey Street) in Germantown for close to 15 years; I loved it. My landlady informed me that it would be going up for sale and, unfortunately, my income disqualified me from making an offer. I applied to several apartment buildings with the hope that I'd find something "before" the property was sold.....but the message was the same "no vacancies" as well as "waiting lists" which would take several years. As years passed, I found myself living in the homes of close friends. They were kind, patient and, in one case, accepted me as part of the family. Just recently, I was informed that my living space was needed ASAP for my landlady's family members. I immediately began calling the senior citizen complexes with the hope that my name had reached the top on the waiting lists and explained the seriousness of my circumstance - to my dismay I was told "sorry, we haven't gotten to your name" or there's "no vacancies".
A OPEN DOOR: Finally, one of the apartment buildings had some vacancies. I was very excited. Given the price of studios and apartments ($600 - $1,500+) I was thrilled to find something that would not make me "rob Peter to pay Paul" i.e. affordable.
However, my application was rejected based on a credit report and I was told that I would have to "clean up" the credit and make an "Appeal" for reconsideration. With some reluctance, I went through the process of securing a credit report, finding receipts to dispute the claims and delivered it to the office. I was told it would take several weeks before they replied to it. It didn't matter that I had an urgent need for a resident; that was ignored as they reiterated the "rules" of the building. That meant I was left on my own.
It was THAT experience that made me "angry enough" to search out the resources/sources for older women in the City of Philadelphia...and I found that there is no place or agency that has addressed the prevention of homelessness in older low-income women. How are they to survive and where are they to live while they slowly move up on the waiting lists? Many have died waiting.
NOTE: I'm now living with a member of my
congregation and her family. They are kind and very respectful. But, I expect to be moving on and, at some point, housing my peers who are in similar situations.
Over the decades I've advocated for seniors by averting evictions, foreclosures, shut off of utilities, etc. I understand now why I've had to walk through this experience.... to kindle compassion and empathy for older women that are experiencing similar rejections and disappointments daily and have NO WHERE to go. Some, like myself, have avoided homelessness because of the intervention of family and/or friends.
SOLUTION: What do you do when you cannot find the help you need? How do you fill that empty space? Well, the answer is Seek a resolution. Do something besides grip and complain.
HOW? Find others with like passion to contribute to the cause. Search out property, in good condition, that will be reasonable : tax sale, REO, Auctions. etc.
Seek advice from our attorneys, Board of Directors, and City of Philadelphia
(who often give Capital grants for acquisition of property to enhance the quality of life of its citizens); contact foundations and philanthropists whose mission is to revitalize the city by
the renovation of property and/or those who express an interested in assisting the elderly ( especially the poor and disenfranchised) by actually offering property as a GIFT.
If you cannot find it; CREATE IT!!!!
I am asking, if you understand the goal and agree with this need/mission, that you will consider making a donation to our organization.
Should you have property to be considered, please inform me.
God bless, Mary Daniels
P.S. By the way, I've already seen several buildings that would be perfect for this project.
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Philadelphia Senate On Aging
Mail 5236 Marion St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19144
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