Holistic Care for our Clients
Here at Bread for the City we describe ourselves as providing holistic care. This means comprehensive wrap-around services that help individuals achieve and maintain stability across many areas of their lives.
Having difficulty figuring out how to apply for food stamps? Stop by Social Services – we’ll go over the application with you and make sure your family gets groceries from our food pantry & garden. Need legal help to apply for child support? Legal intakes are every Monday afternoon. Want a medical home where you can care for your physical and mental health? Become a patient with our medical clinic and go to a free yoga class while you’re here!
We are serious about working to meet the complex needs of the community. We are invested in helping to create an environment that lets clients know they are respected and have the right to dignity – both inside and outside of our buildings’ walls. How though, do you ensure that someone feels dignified when they’re trapped in a system that often strips them of their humanity? There is little respect in being turned away from emergency shelter again because all available spaces are at capacity, or in having your EBT (food stamps) card be empty when the Department of Human Services (DHS) terminates your benefits without proper notice.
Looking from the outside in, it can be difficult to understand the way that poverty keeps people from moving forward. As a caseworker I hear stories every day that demonstrate just how difficult and oppressive it is to be poor in Washington, DC. The circumstances that trap folks at the bottom of the class pyramid are complex, interwoven, and often completely outside of any one individual’s control. There are many studies (including this one) that show the high price of being poor. It can be hard though, to translate numbers to personal experience – so I’d like to introduce you to a few of the people that I have met and their stories.
Thomas is the single parent and primary guardian of a severely disabled child. Thomas wanted to stay in DC where he would be close to family that could provide childcare and emotional support – but his income made it impossible to find affordable housing. We’ve highlighted before that market rate rent is largely outside the affordable range for our clients. Our Housing Access Program helps people like Thomas, get on long term wait-lists for subsidized housing programs-and since starting in 2010, over 50 people they assisted in the process have obtained housing in affordable units. However, as these wait-lists all take many, many years, it is not an immediate solution and Thomas had to turn to already overcrowded family for support.
Through our Short-Term Case Management program, I was able to help Thomas identify the public benefits he could apply for, as well as aide him with the DC Public School enrollment process for his child. Even with our assistance, Thomas ran into several snags along the way – for example, it took us weeks to secure all necessary application proofs for DHS – and for that entire time their family was without any income or medical insurance coverage.
Many of our clients take regular medication that allows them to maintain their health stability – and without access to affordable health care they can fall into a crisis. Our medical clinic provides free care to anyone in need – and for Thomas they were able to provide an important bridge while he was without insurance.
Mary is in her 80s and lives in an apartment by herself. She doesn’t have many family members nearby and came into our legal clinic when she got a mailed notice she didn’t understand. The legal team quickly realized that Mary was not receiving all of the public benefits she was entitled to and linked her with me for help completing an application for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program. This is a supplemental program available to low income Medicare beneficiaries in the District to cover their monthly Medicare premiums and co-pays.
QMB requires applicants to provide various documents to prove eligibility and access benefits. Like many older people, Mary’s monthly income comes from a few different places – Social Security, pensions, veteran’s benefits, etc. As a result, it can be difficult to get all the proofs you need to show that you qualify. We spent a lot of time helping Mary track down her income statements so she could apply for QMB. We were happy to help Mary and she was glad to have the support – but not everyone has someone to help them navigate these complex scenarios. That’s why the comprehensive care that Bread for the City provides to the under-served residents of DC is so important. That’s also why it is important that our donors continue to support our efforts. One client at a time, we change lives for the better.