Independence Care System (ICS) Community Health Worker Tirso Velez recently assisted an ICS member with securing an apartment, navigating the challenging process of finding affordable housing and making it possible for her to live comfortably and independently in her community.
ICS member Germania Decena—who experiences memory problems due to her physical disability—was searching for a new apartment in the Bronx, but was having difficulty making and following up on housing appointments.
Fully aware of the lengthy process and challenges associated with securing affordable housing, Tirso quickly assessed the situation and took action, remaining resourceful and steadfast in working alongside Germania for months to find an apartment. This included helping her to renew her housing voucher, complete her housing application and research new apartments that would potentially support her needs.
ICS: Providing disability-expert care and support
Because he understood Germania’s disability and its effect on her memory, Tirso knew that Germania would need hands-on help to complete necessary procedures and paperwork to qualify for a new apartment. Wanting her to be happy and comfortable, he worked tirelessly with her to gain a clear understanding of what she wanted in her new home. Germania—who had been searching for a new apartment for a long time—wanted to upgrade from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment.
First, Tirso assisted Germania in renewing her housing voucher.
“I accompanied her to renew the voucher,” Tirso said. “She had it, but it had expired. I wanted to be there for her. Section 8 approved it.”
Next, Tirso helped Germania update her housing application. Together, they also researched and applied for suitable apartments that were near her current building.
“She goes to church nearby,” Tirso said. “I have a friend who works in managing buildings. I contacted him and he told me he had an apartment available. That’s how I got this apartment. I referred Germania to management.”
Tirso also traveled with Germania to view the apartment firsthand, and translated for her during a conversation with the landlord. Together, they submitted the required documents to the landlord.
“She saw the opportunity and she took it,” Tirso said.
ICS secures apartment — something to celebrate at Thanksgiving
After months of collaboration, compiling documentation and obtaining approvals, Germania was able to move into her new apartment, just in time for Thanksgiving!
What normally would have been a demanding process, Tirso said, worked out in the best possible way. Tirso described the experience as rewarding, noting it as one of many experiences that make him proud to work for an organization like ICS that provides people with disabilities with essential quality of life services.
“She’s very happy—to make a person’s life better is my mission,” Tirso said. “Over the years, I’ve been able to put myself in others’ shoes. Before ICS, I didn’t know about the challenges people with disabilities face. Now I have a clear understanding.”
Germania lauded Tirso for his commitment to preserving her independence, and his endless support to ensure she found a new apartment.
“Working with Tirso was beautiful,” Germania said. “I felt very much taken care of—he is a wonderful person. It’s a dream come true. The apartment is beautiful and I have everything I need.”
Tirso said that he couldn’t have had a more positive experience helping Germania, and that he looks forward to continuing to make a difference in the lives of housing well into the future.
“Working at ICS has changed my life,” Tirso said. “It’s a special place where you can improve lives on a daily basis. It’s been a phenomenal experience.”