2018 Stories: “They didn’t mind going the extra mile with me.”
December 14, 2018 by BFC in Advocacy Affordable Housing
As we close out 2018, we’re sharing stories that impacted us. From medical and legal to advocacy and housing, this was one of our busiest years yet! To read our annual report in full, click here to read out annual report. And stay tuned to the blog for more stories.
Brain injuries can often lead to emotional and behavioral changes. For BFC Housing Access Program client Dana Croskey, one impact from her stroke was tears … and lots of them. “Since I had my stroke, I’m very emotional,” Croskey says, “I don’t mean to cry, but sometimes, it just happens.”
Before her stroke, Croskey was a cook at Howard University, but her health complications made it impossible to return. “I wish I could have [gone back],” Croskey said. “Working is a lot better than waiting around.”
Struggling with unemployment, she moved in with her mother, who shortly passed away. Bouncing from place to place, Croskey finally landed with a nephew who was happy to have her stay with him.
“I don’t think I would have made it in a shelter. Thank God for family,” Croskey says. Still, it wasn’t the same as having her own space, and she knew that finding an affordable home was key to recovering her health and happiness.
That’s when Bread for the City stepped in. BFC’s Housing Access Program provides information on finding subsidized rental units in DC, regular updates on open wait lists, and one-on-one assistance filling out complicated housing applications. Croskey went straight to our Northwest Center to begin the process.
But it would prove to be a long journey. Because of the lack of affordable housing in DC (the city has lost 50% of its affordable rental units to development in the past decade), even with help, it can take years to be approved for a home. But Croskey was ready for a change and she jumped right into the process. “It takes a long time to get one of these apartments, especially for someone in my situation… not really having the income, not being able to work,” she notes.
Armed with her rental application and identification, Croskey worked with our Housing Access Program team to identify buildings with open wait lists. She showed up to add her name to the waiting list of so many buildings that she lost count. But she remembers that each line to submit an application had 50 or more people trying to get housing, and sometimes, she was there the whole day. “I would pack me a little lunch, because I knew each time how it could be,” Croskey said.
Throughout the process, BFC’s Housing Access Program staff kept Croskey encouraged. “They didn’t mind going the extra mile with me. One time, I told my worker, ‘I would go, but I don’t have the bus fare.’ She said, ‘Come on down here. I’ll give you tokens,’ and that made me want to go even more,” Croskey said, “It’s the people at Bread for the City. It’s some good people.”
Her persistence paid off: after six-and-a-half years of being on multiple wait lists for subsidized housing, Croskey now lives in a home of her own. “When I finally got the call, I thought the heavens had opened up! I was so happy and so proud,” Croskey said, “I don’t know how I would have gotten here without Bread for the City. They helped me.”
1 New comments
Dana Croskey’s story makes me terribly sad, and crazy angry that we – the City, federal government, Americans – don’t provide a livable disability income automatically, so that people unable to earn a living are not spending their physical and emotional energy on just surviving. A safe place to live, the means to buy food and other necessities, health insurance – without red tape to hinder easy access: these are not too much for our rich country to provide. George H.W. Bush saluted the thousand points of light that provide some of the most important caring to Americans. Bread for the City is a blazing star. But I’d like to see the services that BFC ensures clients receive be what every individual in need gets.