Now That You Have Housing…
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
Discover resources that will help you get by
Elizabeth Peterson, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services & Daniel J. Stern, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
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Congratulations! It is often quite difficult to find a place to live, especially in New York City. However, sometimes maintaining housing can be just as hard as finding it. At CUCS' Housing Resource Center, we often get calls from people living with mental illness who need some assistance in order to keep their current residence. Often times, a lack of support, financial hardships, problems with benefits and hospitalizations cause people to lose their apartments. Below are some city, state and non-profit agencies that offer support to people with mental illness, disabilities and low incomes.

Sometimes people need a little extra assistance, such as help with budgeting, reminders to pay bills or take medication, setting up medical appointments or just someone to check in with on a regular basis to help them maintain their housing. In these situations, a Case Manager or an ACT team is a great resource. These programs are designed to help people with severe and persistent mental illness achieve the goals of illness management, recovery, self-sufficiency and access to appropriate community-based services. There are four different programs: Supportive Case Management, Intensive Case Management, Blended Case Management and ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) teams. All of these programs offer different levels of services and have different admission criteria. If you feel you could benefit from these services, call the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) at 212-801-3343 and ask for a Case Management/ACT Consultant in your borough.

If you have serious medical problems or a physical disability, you may qualify for a visiting nurse or a home health aide that will come to your home and assist you with medication management, injections, basic hygiene and sometimes even housekeeping. These services are particularly valuable for older adults. For more information, call Visiting Nurse Services at 1-888-867-1225. If you are unable to use the subway or buses to travel around the city because of a disability, you may be eligible for the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) Access-A-Ride Program. To see if you qualify, and for more information, call the MTA at 1-877-337-2017. For some people, these services can mean the difference between being able to stay in their homes and having to move to an adult care facility, such as a nursing home.

One of the most important parts of maintaining your housing is paying your rent in a timely manner and keeping your benefits up to date. If you have questions about what benefits you are eligible for or if you have general questions about your benefits, a great resource is the Public Benefits Resource Center at 212-614-5552. For specific questions about your current Social Security benefits, call the Social Security information line at 1-800-772-1213. For questions about Medicaid, Public Assistance or Food Stamps, try the Human Resource Administration's information line at 1-877-472-8411.

After paying your rent, you might find that some months you have little money left to pay for other expenses. Con Edison has several programs that help their customers pay their energy bills. The EnergyShare Programs offers low-income customers a one-time grant to put toward their bills. They also have a number of services for people over 62 and people with permanent disabilities or medical hardships. For more information, contact Con Edison at 1-800-75-CONED (6633). For assistance with your phone bill, Verizon's Lifeline program helps seniors and low-income residents maintain affordable telephone service. To find out more information and see if you are eligible contact Verizon at 1- your area code-890-7100. The Food Bank for New York City serves over 1,200 nonprofit community food programs throughout the five boroughs. They run a 24-hour, 7 day a week hot line, 1-866-NYC-FOOD (692-3663), that gives New Yorkers referrals to food pantries, soup kitchens and senior centers in their areas.

For information about other New York City non-emergency services call the city's Citizen Service Center at 311 from any phone in the city. Operators are available to answer questions and give referrals to city agencies 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. For information and referrals for mental health services in your community, call Lifenet at 1-800-LIFENET (543-3638).

If you have other questions regarding supported housing call the CUCS Housing Resource Center, at 212-801-3333 and ask to speak to a Housing Consultant.
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