At home with changing lives.
MENU
Contact
Donate

Take Action: Eviction Crisis Advocacy

 

Our advocacy on the eviction crisis continues. We’re calling on Governor Abbott to release the billions in unspent CARES Act funding to support the rental assistance needs of Texas renters and landlords.  We’re also calling on our elected officials in DC to pass the HEREOS Act so that we can stabilize our economy and protect the housing of Texans struggling with the financial impacts of the pandemic.

 

After Thursday’s press conference with Texas Housers and Interfaith, investigative reporter Kevin Clark with KXAN reported on the eviction crisis and the experience of Family Eldercare’s client, Liz, a veteran, mom, and HR professional who lost her job due to the pandemic.  We’re expecting another story from KUT early next week; and, Spectrum will be doing a follow up to their story on Family Eldercare’s client, Timothy, a veteran who is trying to keep his home while unemployed due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

 

Please share these stories and take action to help us address the eviction crisis today:

  1. Share these stories on your social media
  2. Email Governor Abbott and tell him to release the unspent Covid relief dollars immediately for rental assistance
  3. Email Senators Cruz and Cornyn and tell them to pass the House version of the HEROES Act to stabilize the Texas economy, the housing of Texans and prevent a massive wave of homelessness when the moratoriums on evictions expire December 31st

Take Action this Veterans Day

On this Veterans Day, don’t thank a Veteran for their service. Instead ask them, “You good?

A 2011 Pew Research Center report found that Americans have little or no understanding of the problems faced by those in the military. I wonder how much further the understanding gap widens when Americans are asked, “How has COVID-19 affected Veterans?”

When I ask “You good?” as a housing stability provider for at-risk and formerly homeless Veterans, I hear the stories of struggles that were rough even before the pandemic.  Now it is far worse of course, and the Veterans I serve cannot escape the all-consuming thoughts of unpaid bills, maxed out credit cards, the car headed for repossession, or when will they ever get back to work. When you ask the Veterans in your life this question, they may tell you that they are trying for any job at this point, but that they are afraid of getting sick, or as one Veteran starkly put it to me, “man, I feel like we are sheep being sent out to slaughter.” They may tell you that civilian life has always been isolating but now with COVID-19 they have never felt more alone. They may tell you they are slipping into depression, anxiety, having thoughts of suicide.  They may admit to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with it all— so please make sure you remind them help is out there if they share that with you, and then keep checking in on the Veterans in your life.  If they aren’t too proud, they may ask for help with some food.  I would advise you to bring them a hot meal even if they don’t request your help. You can also support a local Veteran-owned business like Con Madre Kitchen and bring them tacos.

The emerging data is beginning to tell us the resource needs of Veterans during the pandemic. Polling done by Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families finds that medical care is their number one reported need, followed by community support, benefits, and financial assistance. I would say this reflects our own service learning at Family Eldercare. As I mentioned, we are providing housing stability case management for formerly homeless Veterans and Veterans at-risk of homelessness. This is a new program supported by the VA, and we are one of only two providers in the entire state of Texas to offer it.  Family Eldercare is here to build our Veterans well-being with financial skills, healthy connections, and community support. It is important to say that we are here, as that same Syracuse University poll shows that Veterans report needing help navigating systems to get to resources. We are here to provide that help; over one quarter of our services have been focused on navigation, linkage, information and referral. This includes reconnecting Veterans with the VA for medical and mental health care, bringing flyers to home visits to share about this new program or that free service. Mostly our help has been providing side-by-side assistance with completing applications for benefits like SNAP, Medical Access Program, VA-Supportive Housing (VASH), Travis County federally funded utility assistance (over $10,000 in assistance!), and lately, the City of Austin RENT program.

In fact, at the time of this writing, I looked at the City of Austin RENT dashboard and saw that out of 1900 assisted households only 7 are Veteran households—3 of those 7 are Veterans our program assisted. It’s clear that Veterans do need our help navigating complex resource systems, and we need to expand programs that Family Eldercare’s.

Frighteningly, the federal and local moratoria on evictions are expiring soon, and we are worried. The current national rent shortfall is between $28 billion on the low end and over $100 billion on the high end to address the COVID-19 housing crisis (Stout Reiss Ross and National Low-Income Housing Coalition). It’s estimated that Texas is going to need $6 billion in rental assistance to prevent a foreseeable wave of homelessness in our communities. While the city and other local funders have stepped up to provide financial assistance and other relief to Austin, no amount of local funding will be able to prevent the wave of evictions that are likely to take effect in Austin and surrounding exurban and rural communities as soon as the eviction moratorium is lifted.  This Veterans Day, it’s critical to tell Governor Abbot and Senators Cornyn and Cruz to pass the HEROES Act and to allocate Texas’ unspent COVID assistance funds to rental assistance so that we can prevent those who have served our country from returning to the streets or falling into homelessness.

At least 60% of the Veterans Family Eldercare serves have been issued notices of proposed evictions. Make no mistake: an eviction order and then the hard knock at the door, “You are being removed from the premises,” is going to lead to downstream paths of substandard housing, neighborhood deterioration, increased stress and poor health outcomes, lost school time for children, and increased risk for suicide and homelessness. Veterans already have an increased risk for homelessness over the general population, and this is a matter of racial equity too.  Black families are more likely to face eviction, especially those headed by a female.

Unfortunately, the VA did not include financial assistance as an allowable cost as part of our grant; however we knew that formerly homeless Veterans would likely need a hand-up under normal circumstances, so we planned for a workaround. As you would expect, the need for financial assistance during the COVID-19 economic crisis has been tremendous. Family Eldercare has leveraged over $50,000 to pay down rental debt and ensure the next month’s rent is paid to ensure our Veterans housing stability while so many are not able to work.

We all ought to be unsettled by the lack of understanding about Veterans that the Pew study demonstrates, especially those Veterans whose struggles are compounding due to the OCVID-19 economic crisis. This learning will take more than two devoted holidays, and we should be concerned with the needs of Veterans all year round. This Veterans Day we can at least start with a to-do list:

Family Eldercare closing In-Home Care Program After 25 Years of Service

 

We have made the difficult decision to close our In-home Care services program, effective October 31, 2020, after 25 years of providing older adults and adults with disabilities personalized care at home. The decision was not an easy one, but necessary based on several factors, including unduly burdensome state and federal requirements, the struggle to recruit care attendants, the reimbursement shortfalls from Medicaid and new barriers to providing service in a pandemic environment.

We’ve worked diligently to ensure clients and staff impacted by our program closure receive the support they need. All former clients and care attendants have transitioned to other programs.

Although one significant chapter in our organization’s history is closing, we are presented with a unique opportunity to shift our focus to advocating for better care for the communities we serve and fair wages for those who care for them. The current system is failing both clients and caregivers. This must change. Our shift away from providing this direct service further strengthens our desire to serve as a catalyst for much-needed reform.

Family Eldercare remains steadfast in helping build a community where people can safely age in place, with dignity and independence, and where essential workers in our community receive fair wages.

We encourage our stakeholders to stand with us in support of our efforts. We invite you to watch the video below to learn more about our program’s history, the current issues at hand, and sign-up to join our efforts to influence change.

Family Eldercare Stands Against Changes to the Social Work Code of Conduct

This past week, the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners (TSBSWE) and Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC) voted to alter the Texas Social Work Code of Conduct.

The change would allow social workers to discriminate based on a client’s disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Not only is this change inconsistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it could also have serious implications for LGBTQ+ individuals’ access to mental health and other services.

The Social Work Code of Ethics has been a long-standing source of conviction and pride for social workers. This change was made without input from social workers in the state and is directly in conflict with the values of the profession.

Family Eldercare emphatically opposes this change, and any other efforts by legislators to legalize discrimination against any group. We will continue to serve, advocate, and fight for the LGBTQ+ and disability communities.

If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, our team of social workers and other community advocates is here to help regardless of disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Email info@familyeldercare.org or call 512-450-0844 to get referred to the services you need.

If you want to help us overturn this discriminatory ruling, here are 5 steps you can take today:

  1. Contact Governor Abbott and share your thoughts on this change
  2. Identify your State Senator and State Representative and contact them via phone or email to share your thoughts
  3. Sign the online petition organized by the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
  4. Follow https://www.naswtx.org/news/ to stay up to date on more ways you can act and find examples of language to use when contacting your representatives or testifying at a meeting
  5. Follow @FamilyEldercare on social media for more actions in the coming days and weeks and #StandWithTXSocialWorkers

 

Statement on the Passing of Michael Hickson

First and foremost, we express our deepest condolences to all who loved and cared for Michael Hickson.

Family Eldercare does not seek the responsibility of Guardianship, but we accept the responsibility when appointed by the Court to serve as Guardian of individuals that have been determined to be incapacitated adults.  As advocates for older adults and adults with disabilities, our primary goal is to help people thrive with independence and dignity.  End of life decisions when families are in disagreement can be especially difficult.

As court-appointed Guardian, we consulted with Mr. Hickson’s spouse, family, and the medical community on the medical complexity of his case.  As press reports have disclosed, Mr. Hickson’s spouse, family, and the medical community were in agreement with the decision not to intubate Mr. Hickson.  As Guardian, and in consultation with Mr. Hickson’s family and medical providers, we agreed to the recommendation for hospice care so that Mr. Hickson could receive end-of-life comfort, nutrition and medications, in a caring environment.

When tasked with this responsibility, we are guided by the client’s well-being, the guidance of the medical community, ethics committees and the Texas Guardianship code of ethics.  At end of life, we grieve alongside all who loved and cared for our clients.