Sucess Story: How SCES helped Fatima Find a New Home

Somerville resident Fatima, left, recently found new housing with some help from Somerville Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) Housing Specialist Kristin Bell (not in photo). Fatima was referred to Bell by her case manager, Michelle Mazzola (right). SCES PHOTO

Fatima, 64, lost her husband and her home. But she kept going and was able to find a new housing, with some assistance from Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) and other local agencies.

Fatima, of Somerville, recently shared her story with SCES, which she described as a miraculous turnaround after a time of troubles. She initially moved in with family members after the death of her husband, but soon realized that was not going to work out for the long run.

“I was devastated, with nowhere to go and nowhere to keep my cats,” said Fatima. “After the endless sadness of my husband’s loss, I was faced with another problem.”

Fatima turned to her SCES case manager for help. From there she was put in touch with SCES Housing Specialist Kristin Bell, who provided support and information about local resources. Fatima said was a real turning point.

“I have so much gratitude for my case manager, Michelle Mazzola, whom helped me through the toughest times,” said Fatima. “Kristin helped me fill out the application to get on Somerville Housing Authority’s Emergency Housing waitlist, and also presented me with a list of options for shelters in the area. Luckily, I found a very special place to stay: the CASPAR Shelter of Cambridge.”

Bell often works with older adults facing housing crises, and said this was a case where the needs lined up with available resources.

“When someone is facing a no-fault eviction, and can provide paperwork from the court system that displacement and homelessness is evident, then an emergency preference may be granted which can get a person an apartment sooner than those on the regular wait-list,” explained Bell. “Thankfully, Fatima had a wonderful experience while waiting at the CASPAR shelter.”

Fatima soon found more permanent housing through the Somerville Housing Authority.

“In a matter of months, I am now in my own place with my two cats who are 19 and 14 years old, and were my husband’s favorite pets. My special thanks and prayers go out to the following very special organizations: Somerville Cambridge Elder Services, my cat sitter, my social workers, the Somerville Housing Authority and the CASPAR shelter.”

Homeless is growing concern for older adults in Cambridge and Somerville, which prompted SCES to add a housing specialist position last year. Bell spoke of Fatima with great admiration, saying she maintained a positive attitude through trying times.

“Fatima was an inspiration to my work, as much as I was to her situation,” said Bell. “To see an individual accept and face homelessness with as much grace and determination as Fatima did was very profound. It’s difficult to refer people to shelters while they wait for a home, but with a positive outlook Fatima embraced the period of transition with an amazing spirit of resilience.”

Kristin Bell is a Housing Specialist at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES), a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.