A Perfect Fit
Julie Rosenberg has been a social worker for St. George’s Society since 2012. Here, she shares how she first learned about the Society’s work and the impact it had on one of her cases.
I’ve been working part-time at the Society for the past 6.5 years. When I am not at St. George’s Society, I work for a program in New York City Housing Court that assists seniors facing eviction. Essentially, we try to prevent them from losing their homes.
About 10 years ago, I was told there was an organization that might be able to help one of my clients who was about to lose his apartment of over 40 years. At 83, Alvin could no longer afford his rent as he was unable to continue performing the tailoring work he had once done. His rent was almost as much as his Social Security, so to make up the difference, Alvin would hobble down to his local dry cleaners where they would pay him $3 to $5 for each sewing project he completed. I thought they were exploiting him, but he was doing whatever it took to pay his landlord. He had no friends or family who could help. Alvin was so alone in this world that his emergency contact was the token booth clerk at his local subway station. It was both sweet and heart-breaking at the same time.
There were no options for a cheaper apartment, and the lack of affordable housing remains a challenge for all of our beneficiaries. $760 for rent in New York City seems like a steal for many of us, but if you’re income is only $800 per month and you have no savings, it just isn’t enough to make it work—let alone pay your utility and food bills. Alvin’s landlord knew he could get a lot more money for the apartment in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and took him to court for rental arrears with the aim of evicting him.
Thankfully, St. George’s Society accepted Alvin into the Beneficiary Program, paying $200 every month directly to his landlord. This allowed him to pay his bills and stop worrying that he would have to enter the shelter system. He could breathe a sigh of relief that he was now able remain in his home. It was such a win. He couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it and St. George’s Society forever became this uniquely helpful organization for which I was so grateful.
Over the years, I saw more of my clients accepted into the Beneficiary Program. It was a victory (and relief!) for me professionally, but more importantly, St. George’s Society meant a safe and secure landing for one of my at-risk seniors. Lifesaving. Truly.
Imagine what a senior with no place to go would be facing without his or her home. There are no cheaper options to be found. St. George’s Society’s program of providing a stipend, which goes directly towards rent is a singularly unique and life-changing form of assistance to our beneficiaries.
Witnessing firsthand the extraordinary work of the Society made the decision to join this team an easy one. I am so happy to be a part of an organization which truly makes a difference.
Our Beneficiary Program serves more than 100 elderly individuals, protecting them from homelessness, poverty, isolation and neglect. Learn more about our program HERE.