A 71-year-old woman and her dog were able to move into a permanent housing facility in Long Beach on Monday, thanks to the collaborative efforts of multiple agencies available for the city’s homeless population.
Ruth Lowry and her canine companion Fluffy became homeless last year after a person took advantage of her and depleted her bank account, said Elsa Ramos, coordinator of the city’s Multi-Service Center—a central hub that serves the area’s homeless and houses staff from about a dozen agencies as well as a federally-qualified health care center on site.
Ramos said the situation left Lowry vulnerable and with no means of supporting herself.
“Unfortunately [this] happens a lot with seniors that we encounter,” Ramos said.
Though Lowry was able to get a roof over her head this week, the process was one that required a lot of patience over the last few months.
Center staff were first made aware of Lowry in the beginning of the year, when she was referred to the city’s Winter Shelter Program—a three-month, county-funded pop-up shelter that is operational from December 1 to the end of February.
Right away, staff put her in temporary transitional housing while working on a long-term plan.
Those at her side included the Long Beach Police Department’s Quality of Life unit—composed typically of a county Mental Health Department employee and police officer—a case manager and a street outreach coordinator.
In order to tap into the multiple services Lowry could potentially qualify for and benefit from, staff had to have all the paperwork, Ramos said.
“A lot of things had to take place. We had to get her ID, Social Security. A lot of that stuff she had lost,” Ramos said. “All these documents we were needing because we were referring her.”
Eventually, Lowry was linked up to a primary care doctor through a clinic at the MSC, was given a phone, taught how to balance her own funds, go grocery shopping, and connected to in-home support services.
Fluffy was even able to get neutered.
Due to “some disabilities that made her vulnerable on the streets,” personnel were also able to get an emergency Section 8 voucher for Lowry through a partnership with the county’s Housing Authority, allowing to set her up with permanent housing.
According to Ramos, the Multi-Service Center is unique to the region because of how well different county, city and non-governmental agencies can work together under one roof and make it easier for those who are ready to seek help.
“It really is a big success for us to be able to get her back into housing and stable,” Ramos said of Lowry. “Some people don’t know our services exist. Some people do, and they are not necessarily ready to engage or don't know how to engage because of their disabilities.”
Above, left photo provided by the Multi-Service Center.