marabout40 is now in Rochester, NY. She has been there since September 1. Many of you are aware that she has been homeless, jobless, and is a cancer survivor. Within days of arriving in Rochester, she applied for food stamps (SNAP) and to have her existing Medicaid coverage transferred to Monroe County. On October 2, marabout40 went to the office of Social Services and applied in person for SNAP, cash assistance, Medicaid, and housing. There is a mandatory 45-day waiting period from the date of application. During those 45 days she was required to participate in a series of orientation sessions, job readiness training sessions, skills testing, and work experience placement.
More below the squiggle.
For the first 2 1/2 months she was in Rochester, she stayed with her son's godmother. The family resources were stretched too thin, so on November 20 she had to leave this temporary residence. That was around the time the mandatory 45-day waiting period for aid from social services expired. marabout40 then called social services to learn the status of her case, only to be told that her application was denied because she hadn't provided required documentation - specifically a copy of her bank statement for October. However, she had provided a copy of the bank statement on October 9, along with all other documents she was told to bring in by October 11. She has a copy of the document receipt she was given which clearly shows the bank statement was submitted. A representative from Social Services told her to fax the receipt and the bank statement. She did so on November 23, and followed up with additional faxes and calls, but has gotten no results to date.
Around this same time, marabout40 discovered a lump in her left breast. She was terrified that her cancer had returned. Luckily, her NYC Medicaid coverage was still in effect, and she was able to get approval from her NYC primary care doctor to receive out-of-network treatment. She had an ultrasound late November which confirmed the tumor. The clinic referred her for surgery. She had a CT-scan and a biopsy (which was inconclusive) and the surgeon recommended a lumpectomy. He would send the mass for lab tests after it was removed to see if it was cancerous. By this time, however (December 1) her NYC Medicaid coverage was cancelled and Monroe County coverage should have kicked in, but didn't. She couldn't get surgery without insurance.
marabout40 attends the Rochester chapter of Gilda's Club, a cancer support group, and one of the members had a contact at Rochester General Hospital. She made an appointment for her to see this individual, and the next day she went with all her documentation. The hospital contact is a Medicaid liaison for the hospital, and was able to scan and email the documentation to the Medicaid dept at Social Services and that's how she was able to get Medicaid activated for her surgery. marabout40 had the lumpectomy on December 13. Right before Christmas, her doctor called her with the good news that the tumor was benign.
Despite being able to get the Medicaid coverage activated, her cash assistance still hadn't been approved. If she would have had that monthly cash allowance, she would have been able to use it to rent a room at the YWCA or some other low income housing. Through some calls and emails I made to Governor Cuomo's office, I made contact with a lady in the Albany office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. This lady informed marabout40 that she could apply for a fair hearing, however, there is a 30-day waiting period for a fair hearing.
ShoshannahD contacted someone at Sojourner House, a women's residence, to see if marabout40 could go there, unfortunately she would have to self-pay or be receiving public assistance to pay for lodgings. This is the same requirement at other women's residences marabout40 has contacted. She only qualifies for free emergency housing and that means on the day she becomes homeless (TODAY) she has to go to Social Services, tell them she's homeless, and they'll put her in a shelter. You can only sleep at the shelters. You can't stay during the day and you can't leave your belongings there.
Monroe County has had marabout working 80 hours a month just to get $200 in food stamps. Through my calls and emails to Governor Cuomo's office, she was able to get someone from Albany to contact Monroe County about this unreasonable requirement - working 20 hours a week with no means of getting back and forth to the job just for $200 in food stamps! It turns out that Monroe County screwed up. She doesn't have to work and they'll be sending her a letter to that effect. Their excuse was that she "fell through the cracks." She's been working the 20 hours a week as a Social Media Intern at a local Methodist church. The pastor there has graciously allowed her to store her things in the church. I have a friend in Rochester who has made arrangements for someone from her church to help marabout40 move the few things she has with her to the church this afternoon.
What we are hoping to accomplish with this diary is to connect with someone involved in New York State social services who might be able to move her original application forward so marabout40 will have the funds necessary to rent a room.
My son theorized that New York State is being even more stringent with requirements for assistance because the state is still recovering from the Sandy storm disaster, and resources are stretched thin. Whatever the reason, it appears that documentation that marabout40 has submitted was lost or misplaced, and the Albany contact said that in addition to applying for the fair hearing, she reapply for cash and housing assistance a second time. This is in case the hearing doesn't go in her favor, she'll have an open case going through the system.
marabout40 is an IT professional and a skilled trainer. She has worked for a major defense contractor for over a decade, and has experience in marketing and social media. Here is her profile on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/... What she really needs to help her get her life back on track is a job. If there is anyone here who knows of a job opening or can get her in for an interview somewhere, please kosmail me and I will forward it to marabout40. She is highly qualified and would be an asset to any organization.
Additionally, if there are any Kossians who live in the Rochester area and are familiar with social services there, please kosmail me. Also helpful would be anyone who works for the state in Albany and has social services contacts. If you live in Rochester and could put marabout40 up for a while, kosmail me. If you can't do any of these things, but would like to help financially, please send me a kosmail.
It is a sorry thing when someone has to worry about how to keep out of the cold, with only a public shelter as an option. It isn't as though she hasn't tried since September to find both a job and housing.
While essentially homeless, job-hunting, concerned about her health, and filling state social service requirements, marabout40 also managed to campaign for President Obama and Representative Louise Slaughter up to the elections. This staunch Democrat deserves any assistance we can give her.
11:16 AM PT: I have had several requests for a PayPal address for marabout40. We posted this diary as an update on her situation, and to seek help with New York State Department of Human Services. But some individuals see the need for immediate, tangible assistance, so here is the address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 3:32 PM PT: Great news! The pastor at the church where marabout has been working knows a couple with a paid-for apartment that is empty until March. marabout will be safely housed for the moth of February.
Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 10:58 AM PT: marabout40 asked me to post her recent post as an update to the diary to hopefully get more visibility. I'm so glad she has resurrected her spirit of optimism. Our support has given her some of her hope back.
Hello everyone. Thank you so much (0+ / 0-)
for the tremendous outpouring of compassion, donations, and suggestions. This community has rallied every time I've been in need and I cannot adequately express my gratitude for all you've done and continue to do. Each and every one of you.
It turns out the man who had rented the room from the Pastor's church member showed up yesterday to move in and there I was in his room. It made for a very uncomfortable situation - as you can imagine.
I was able to spend the night there, and the Pastor came and got me early this morning. Now I'm at the Grace United Methodist Church, and trying to figure out what to do for a place to sleep tonight.
The good news is, once all the money that was donated to my paypal account gets posted to my bank account, I'll be able to rent a room at the Y for a couple of months, at least. So I'll be just fine, thanks to everyone's generosity.
I'm in surprisingly good spirits and not letting this sudden turn of events get me down. I have to keep moving forward.
I'm healthy and full of potential, and for the first time in a very long time, I'm hopeful. I feel like something good is waiting just around the bend. I just need to get over these last hurdles. With this amazing community behind me, I know I will.
Thank you all for everything!