“I can’t believe this is real,” exclaimed Jenna. “Someone has to pinch me.” After three years of being homeless, Jenna and her two boys, ages 7 and 4, moved into a brand-new two-bedroom apartment in Farmingdale.
“I was in a motel in Rockville Centre,” said Jenna. “The lack of stability really doesn’t help with the boys.” Jenna continued, “Three weeks ago I met Natasha and that’s how I came here.”
Natasha, a housing worker at Options for Community Living, Inc. was one of many people to help coordinate the move from homelessness to housing for three families on July 9th.
Options for Community Living, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that serves Long Islanders in need. Through housing programs and case management, Options assists more than 2000 people annually.
“We are grateful that we can provide this opportunity to these families,” said Yolanda Robano-Gross, Executive Director at Options. “Through our work with the local Continuum of Care, we were awarded funds from the US Office of Housing and Urban Development to house homeless individuals and families.” Robano-Gross continued, “Once you have the funding, then you have to find the apartments. Thankfully, one of our current landlords was completing development of a multi-family project and it all came together.”
After five years living in a motel in Jericho, Cynthia and her two children 13-year-old Michael and 16-year-old Keeara opened the door to their new home. “I tried to get out of the motel,” said Cynthia, “but I couldn’t.”
Today there were smiles all around with Michael recording the event as the family entered their new home for the first time. “I have a door on my room,” said Michael.
The third family to move in was Julianna and her 7-year-old daughter. For the last two years, they lived in Daniel’s House Homeless Shelter in Roosevelt. When asked what she planned to cook first in her new kitchen, Julianna responded, “Mac and cheese! My baby loves mac and cheese. I’m very appreciative.”
Options for Community Living provides rental assistance and acts as a liaison with the landlord. Housing case managers ensure that the families remain stably housed. They help link family members in need of support services to healthcare, benefits, childcare, social networks, advocacy groups, and other local resources.
“I’m really proud of our staff and thankful for great relationships with landlords, the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless and Nassau County Department of Social Services,” said Robano-Gross. “It was a well-coordinated effort.”
“A key of my own. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a key of my own?” said Jenna. “I can’t believe it!”