Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council | Brooklyn, NY
Keisha Wood wanted to provide her son Dahvane with more opportunities than what she saw available in Jamaica, so she moved to New York. “Dehvane is my hero, he’s the reason I was able to get through last year. He was the one who would tell me “Mom we’re going to be ok, things will get better.”
“I broke down a lot. A few of my friends would tell me ‘don’t let your kids see you break down, and I would try but sometimes just washing dishes or cleaning the apartment I would break down and cry and my kids would see me and I would have to say, ‘mommy is ok. We are going to be ok. “
After her husband, with no warming, left her and her 3 kids, Keisha Woods found herself in an apartment that she could not afford and with thousands of dollars in rental arrears.
Keisha did not know where to go for help, but her priority was to keep her children in her community. She described that while on the train, she saw a sign that said “Reach out before you are forced out”. She immediately called 311 was directed to the RBSCC Homebase program in Brownsville.
When Keisha got to Homebase, she was getting evicted, her rental arrears amounted to over $12,000 and her income was insufficient to pay ongoing rent. With the assistance of the Human Resource Administration (HRA), Homebase paid the rental arrears. Homebase also provided her with attorney to represent her in court. “Alberto [attorney] spoke for me and went the extra mile to fight for my case. The judge said he had never seen anything like it. I couldn’t imagine being homeless with my three children, HomeBase, Patrick [case manager], Marcia [supervisor], and Alberto are my family now.” Her case manager also advocated with her landlord and her rent was reduced to the FEPS rent levels. In this way, she had a rental assistance program that would subsidize her ongoing rental payments. “I was amazed at what HomeBase accomplished, I would cry in Patrick’s office because it looked hopeless and Patrick would say ‘we will figure it out’”.
A few months after her amazing ordeal, we spoke with Keisha and she said “I learned in therapy that abuse isn’t always physical abuse can be emotional, mental or verbal. Now I know that my self-confidence and my self-worth are important and I am proud of whom I have become.”
Now that her housing is stable, Keisha and her children are thriving. She works full time as a home health aide and attends school to improve herself and grow professionally. Her children (who struggled in school while they were getting evicted) are now excelling. Just last week before introducing Mayor Bill De Blasio at press conference aimed to announce his new vision to address the homelessness crisis in the city, Keisha spoke with pride about her future plans of becoming a nurse.