AdvocacyPeople

Giving Needed Assistance and Benefits to our Residents

During the course of our 50 years, IBA- Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, has been at the forefront of the fight towards equality. We believe that every individual is deserving of a high quality of life and it is our mission to advocate for those rights. This is why our Resident Services program is devoted exclusively to ensuring that our community enjoys all the assistance and benefits available to them. In a city where 21% of the population is below the poverty level and there is a high risk of homelessness – the median income is not sufficient to afford the high cost of living, our program ensures that our residents don’t fall victims to the hardships of losing their housing, while securing financial stability.

A visit to our Resident Services Office will grant our residents with avid listeners who are interested in helping them satisfy whatever their needs might be, from a translation of a doctor’s note, to a simple photocopy, or even legal advice such as court proceedings and navigating through the legal system.

We base our practice from the belief that strong relationships are the foundation of a successful support system, as explained by our Resident Services Director, Lauren Bard, “Coordinators will go have lunch at residents’ homes and be able to talk about the other programs that we provide. Sometimes they just need someone to spend time with and reach out to,” she said. “Then coordinators are able to pin-point exactly what they need and refer to them to programs, such as one for elderly companionship, or programs for children such as an initiative started by the city to connect them to positive examples by organizing basketball games between kids and Boston police.”

The Resident Services Program operates behind three major pillars: Case Management, Recreation and Community Development, and Healthy Living.

Case Management

Case Management can mean a variety of things. We understand that every person and family is different, thus we adapt our services to meet their needs and connect them with the appropriate resources. Our main purpose is to allow our residents to keep their homes, the threat of homelessness being particularly alarming in Boston. This oftentimes means directing them towards available assistance that will provide financial relief. Research has shown that 25% of those who have fallen to homelessness still hold jobs, (a very high percentage in comparison to other cities), but their income is not sufficient to make ends meet — or provide them of housing. In addition, 31% are physically disabled.

IBA residents

Happy IBA Residents during Mother’s Day.

Some of the resources that we facilitate are:

  • Applications for food stamps
  • Utilities subsidies
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Safelink phones
  • Legal and civil proceedings
  • Massachusetts Health Care

“By maximizing their benefits we allow our residents to focus on other things,” explains Bard. If they don’t have to worry about the purchase of an expensive medicine it gives them room to afford basic needs such as food and monthly rent payments.

For example, a family living in Villa Victoria was under the threat of eviction because they weren’t able to make their rent payments on time, due to a severe disability within the family. Resident Services met with the family with the assistance of a translator, and was able to determine that they qualified for cash assistance and that their food stamps application had not been processed successfully. Thanks to our program this family was able to receive a substantial amount of food stamps, a retroactive allocation for all the months they had not received them. In addition, they were able to start receiving cash assistance, which they put forth towards transportation for a family member who must receive weekly dialysis treatments.

This is just one particular story of the services our program provides for our residents, with the help of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley an organization that focuses on supporting the community on the path to self-sustainability. Our staff is constantly finding unique solutions for each individual case on a daily basis.

Recreation and Community Development

It is important for our residents to lead active lives and stay connected to the community through social, recreational, and cultural programming. As explained by the Associate Professor at Stanford University, Gregory Walton, “Belonging is a psychological lever that has broad consequences. Our interests, motivation, health and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations.”

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Christmas Tree Lighting at Villa Victoria

Resident Services provides activities to foster community development such as our weekly Social Fridays, an afternoon where residents play Bingo and share a meal together; or our seasonal celebrations, such as: Thanksgiving Dinner, a Christmas Tree Lighting, Easter Lunch, Valentine’s Arts and Crafts, and more. We also host events where residents can speak their minds and contribute to their community, such as the recent visit from Senator Chang Diaz.

In this department we count with the support of three elder care focused organizations: Title III City of Boston, Sailor’s Snug Harbor, and the Bushrod H. Campbell and Adah F. Hall Charity Fund.

Some of our most anticipated events next month include Coffee with a Cop and a Safety Talk with Officer Bernadette McCarthy. To find out about all our upcoming social occasions you may visit our online calendar, or pick one up from the Resident Services Office in 100 W. Dedham Street.

Healthy Living

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IBA residents participating in a doll making workshop.

Epidemiological research shows a direct correlation between income and overall good health. Knowing that Boston has one of the highest costs of living in the country, another key aspect of our services are making a fulfilling and well rounded life experience readily accessible through fitness and nutrition. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is an important contributor to our mission, with their goal to assess and monitor the needs of local residents with respect to cancer control.

We organize weekly classes such as Yoga and “Season with Reason” that our residents can all take advantage of, free of charge. You can find all our health and fitness programming in the same place as our recreational activities, through our online calendar as well as in the Office of Resident Services.

Next month we have a very special Senior Resource Fair featuring a vast amount of elderly service providers in the city, activities, and snacks.

This article serves as a guide to all of the benefits and resources we have to offer our residents. If you don’t see your specific need listed here, give us a call, chances are we’ll be able to help.

Contact information: Lauren Bard at (617) 535-1791 or via email: lbard@ibaboston.org

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