Help Me Howard ends on a happy note this year with the story of anonymous.
We first introduced you to anonymous back in March. He’s the young blind man who became homeless and was trying to find housing in New York City. This turned into one of Howard’s hardest cases and while he didn’t resolve it alone, we can safely say that anonymous is finally home.
Howard first met anonymous about a year and a half ago, when he contacted Help me Howard about his housing dilemma. At the time he was living in an illegal apartment on Long Island and commuting weekly into the city to see his eye doctors. He was due to undergo eye surgery, but had no way to get back from the hospital, because there are no ambulette services that commute between the city and the island.
Anonymous is totally blind in one eye, while in the other eye he can see limited shadows. Isolated from people, living by himself and with no access to any disability services, he was surviving on TV dinners and instant soup.
At that time he was getting only social security and food stamps. Anonymous efforts to access Long Island’s Adult Protective Services went nowhere. We also contacted several agencies on Long Island and in the city, but none were helpful. There was either a long waiting list for services or housing, while other agencies never bothered calling back.
It was as if anonymous had fallen between the cracks of a bottomless pit.
When the rent on his illegal apartment became too much for him to afford, we moved anonymous into the city to a shelter in Queens that agreed to house him temporarily.
We also contacted Real Estate Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey. Bailey’s law firm does pro bono work, helping low income cases and he immediately took up anonymous’ case.
Adam said: “It was shocking! I live in the greatest city in the world, New York City and I’m introduced to a blind man, who is homeless and living in a shelter. Being a real estate attorney and being an expert in the housing market, I knew there must be some misunderstanding!”
Unfortunately things didn’t work out at the Queens shelter and anonymous was soon homeless again. But within weeks he was accepted to a Manhattan shelter for the disabled and that’s when Adam says the wheels really began turning!
Adam says, “We started contacting different agencies and I started learning why anonymous wasn’t qualified and we used that information. City housing laws aren’t set up for blind people and the rules that they have, the highest priority goes to those that have been molested or beaten and anonymous had not had that. So we made the rules fit anonymous. The man is blind, he cannot see at all, he has a dog that helps him walk and we made sure that we were able to fit his circumstances into the right rule”.
The wheels turned slowly at first, but by August anonymous was finally approved and had moved into a brand new city building, built for low income and the disabled.
Anonymous was thrilled! “Its wonderful, I have my own kitchen. I have a bathroom, which is massive. I have a home help attendant who comes and cooks and cleans for me, you know the tasks I can’t do. She helps me with shopping and I have a visiting nurse, who comes once a week. There’s a social caseworker who helps me, she has meetings with me to see how I’m doing, helping me with getting education, maybe employment.”
Anonymous is very happy in his new home and he thanked both Help Me Howard and Adam Leitman Bailey for helping him get housing. He hopes to go back to school some day and perhaps do social work, so he can help others and give back as well.