Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund: Donate to Larry’s Legacy
Larry was a mid-70-year-old man confined to a wheelchair by a medical condition. He lived in a small apartment owned by an individual in the mid-town Kansas City area. He was able to get around using the RideKC bus system, and routinely went to church and the grocery store on the bus.
He lived alone with no family and few friends nearby. He received home health care services to assist him with some daily living activities like bathing.
He began coming out to Independence to Nativity of Mary to attend Mass – as he had visited several churches and decided he liked Nativity best. There was a bus stop about 2 blocks from the church which made it easy for him get there.
The apartment next to his had a bedbug infestation, and the landlord was concerned that the bugs were in Larry’s apartment as well. The landlord instructed Larry to get rid of his bed and sofa – but Larry was unable to find help in removing those large items – nor could he afford to replace them on his $775/month social security income.
The landlord became frustrated and gave Larry an eviction notice. Larry tried to work it out but could not do so. He began a search for a new place to live but had no success because of his limited income. IN the best of conditions, it’s extremely difficult to find low-income housing. Larry’s situation, however, was anything but ideal: he had few funds, he had no resources to help him with his search, his landlord gave him a bad reference. With those barriers in place, he was declined everywhere he applied for a lease.
Finally, he turned to his pastor, Fr. Bob Stone at Nativity. There were only two weeks to the end of the month, and he was desperate for help.
Fr. Bob knew he had to do something – the parish could help with physically moving, and with some household items, but to find an apartment, he needed a partner. He turned to Susan Walker at Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities sponsors several apartment buildings in the diocese, and Susan worked with the community housing team to find an available apartment in one of them, not far from where Larry currently lived. However, those apartments have application and qualification procedures that take time, so the team needed to move quickly.
Ronnetta Pruitt, an in-home specialist, made arrangements for Larry to come to the apartment complex, and meet with the manager. She met him there and assisted with the paperwork but despite her best efforts, Larry’s apartment would not be ready until after his eviction date.
Even for HUD sponsored housing an eviction on a renter’s record means that many options are not available – and most private landlords will not rent to someone after they have been evicted. If Larry’s eviction went through, he would have been disqualified for the apartment Ronnetta had found for him, and the process of searching and securing a place to live would have taken weeks.
On the night before his eviction date, Larry left a voice message for Catholic Charities saying, “Tomorrow’s a big day for me. I’m either going to sink, or swim. I sure hope I swim.”
Ronnetta worked with the director of Community Housing and the Welcome Center to come up with a solution – which was to get Larry moved out, and into an inexpensive motel for a couple of days. Fortunately, the Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund (CCEAF) was able to cover the cost – which was only $150 for the two nights he needed to spend there. Having those funds meant that Larry could remain sheltered and safe, rather than winding up on the street with nowhere to go.
Things began falling into place for Larry. Ronnetta and others got Larry moved out of his apartment and into the motel. Catholic Charities reached out to our partners at Habitat for Humanity and got a couch donated from one of their Restores. Parishioners rallied around him so that on his apartment move-in day, the new bed they had purchased for him was delivered, and boxes of kitchen supplies including a microwave and hotplate were waiting for him as well.
The apartment was just what he needed. It was clean, comfortable, and affordable. A Senior Center was on the same block and he went there often for lunch and to socialize with his new neighbors. He took the bus each Sunday to Nativity, and remained a valued member of that community. Ronnetta continued to check on him as part of the In-Home program, and made certain he had groceries and other support he needed.
Larry lived in his apartment for nearly two years before his health deteriorated. After a brief hospitalization, he passed away in his apartment.
The story could have been very different. Had Fr. Bob not connected with Catholic Charities; had the community housing team not been so committed to finding a solution; had the emergency assistance fund not been available, Larry could have spent his last days homeless and alone.
Join Larry’s Community of Care and donate now.