This is not any set of keys and this is not any apartment.
As of two weeks ago, this space belongs to Kim F., a woman who was previously homeless, then in a three-quarter house (“like a shelter but with a little more freedom” says Kim), and then at Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY)’s Muhlenberg residence. From homeless to her own apartment was a journey of 14 years.
Kim says, “I came from a good home but I ended up on drugs. It took off from there. I [got to the point where I] was tired of the rat race so I came to New York. I’m from Jersey.”
She called a man who brings people from New Jersey to New York City to get clean. “I let him know, I’m done. I’m ready to get myself together,” she says. “He picked me up, dropped me off at a shelter. The next day I got an EBT Card (Electronic Benefits Transfer Card) for food, and Medicaid. From there, I went to a friend’s house and then to the three-quarter house. I was there a good five years. That was a clean and sober place,” she adds.
She was given the number of LSSNY and placed in a private room at Muhlenberg. “I was grateful that I had a roof over my head, number 1,” she says. “I had a little more space that was my own vs sharing space in the three-quarter house. The only thing I had to share was the kitchen and bathroom in Muhlenberg. And I got tired of that.”
After a period of nine years, our Executive Director for Residential Services, Rachel Bleecker, put Kim in touch with our housing specialist, Adam Labiaga. He helped Kim apply for section 8 housing with a voucher. Eventually, Kim was selected and given a chance to find an apartment to call her own.
“I’m a private person,” Kim says. “[I like] the privacy, the space, the peace of mind. Not having to deal with nobody else’s problems but your own.“
Kim awaits a furniture voucher to set up her new apartment.
She’s extremely grateful for all that LSSNY has done for her.
“When COVID hit, I was in the hospital for seven days because I couldn’t breathe. After that, Rachel really helped me,” she says. “She made me feel really comfortable having to go in a hotel until I was better. She told me she would get me food. That made me feel really good. Like somebody cared,” she says.
Kim says, “The whole time I was at Lutheran, I felt at peace other than the little things you get into with your neighbors but I felt like I was on my own. It gave me a little strength to take the next step which is this. It gave me the courage,” she adds.
All of Kim’s family remains in New Jersey. “I’m the only one here,” says Kim. “Rachel made me feel comfortable. Being here all these years is scary,” she adds.
To learn more about LSSNY’s supportive housing program, join us tonight at 6pm for our Virtual Town Hall.