Viola Young is no stranger to life-changing events. She lost her mother when she was just four years old. She was a frontline care giver during 9/11. In her own words, “I was determined from a young age that I would weather any storm; I would keep hopeful no matter what.” So, when Ms. Young, a 73-year-old educator on a fixed income, fell last winter and severely injured her hips, she believed that she could weather this new challenge. However, she had not counted on the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite her injury, weekly consultations with health specialists, and mounting medical bills, Ms. Young managed to maintain her teaching contract through the remainder of 2019 and early 2020. Her budget was being pushed to the limit, but what finally slowed her down in March was COVID-19. As a senior with underlying health problems, she couldn’t afford to leave her apartment to go to work or to do errands. Increasingly, she started relying on costly food delivery services while having to do without her regularly scheduled therapy. The lack of therapy worsened her pain and slowed down her recovery. Yet, what she seemed to be most concerned about was the rent. “I had never missed rent a day in my life. I am the person who takes care of the elders in my family and I am an elder, myself.”
Ms. Young had attempted to apply for unemployment insurance benefits as soon as she stopped working but the process was long, and her Social Security income was insufficient to meet her needs. At the time of her May application to The Bridge Fund, she owed her landlord a little more than $3,000 in rental arrears but, to her credit, had $1,824 to contribute.
Bridge Fund caseworkers quickly determined that, with unemployment and Social Security benefits, Ms. Young would soon have future ability to maintain her $812-a-month apartment. It, therefore, made sense to keep her current housing. Our modest financial assistance included a $1,200 rent grant, a $100 utility grant, and a $200 supermarket gift card that was ordered online and conveniently mailed directly to her. Ms. Young has again weathered another of life’s storms and is as determined as ever.