By Arthur Mondale, WPTV
People with disabilities are disproportionately more likely to experience homelessness. Some studies now show an estimated 40% of the people who are homeless have a disability. This is a barrier to getting out of the cycle. Now there’s an opportunity in Palm Beach County to encourage area landlords to help annihilate a plethora of barriers now and into the new year. It’s a holiday season that was a long time coming for Antonio Moret. He’s a previously employed environmentalist who ended up homeless dealing with barriers like his disability and child support. Some studies now show an estimated 40% of the people who are homeless have a disability.
“I was working before I ended up being homeless,” Moret said. “I’m now disabled, and I needed to relearn how to finance, budget and look for new opportunities.”
If you’re scratching your head, The Lord’s Place vice-president of housing services Calvin Phillips says you shouldn’t be. ”It could be a disability, foreclosure, loss of job or a divorce,” Phillips said. “All this is trauma — so we have to first work those trauma bases to get to the real person,” Phillips said.
Moret and his roommates are part of The Lord’s Place Graduate Housing Program which consists of people who have successfully identified the issues that led to their homelessness. They also have learned how to manage their finances and have worked with case and peer support specialists.
”It really gives us an opportunity to work outside the box,” Phillips said. But that’s one side of the equation. The other side is property owners like Nyasha Chimbandi who is also founder of We Second Chance. ”It’s that sense of I’m part of the solution,” Chimbandi said. “And that’s what I want to encourage other landlords that are out there to understand. Ending homelessness is a community project. It’s a community initiative.”
Chimbandi owns the home that houses Moret and his roommates. But she also owns other homes that have changed the lives of 28 former homeless people in Palm Beach County. And now more than ever The Lord’s Place seeks landlord’s willing to open their doors to the Graduate Housing Program. “It’s not just a landlord. It’s someone who fits our mission,” Phillips said. “It’s someone who understand the homeless and understands that there will be times that they may lose their job and they may have a setback and that we’re not so quick to kick them out or put them back on the street.”
“They mean it. They’re doing it from the heart and they’re doing it with the uttermost integrity,” Chimbandi added.
If you are a landlord who’d like to help the former homeless move forward, you can schedule a “landlord/tenant meeting” with The Lord’s Place, email firstname.lastname@example.org.