transcript Housing Problem Solving

Housing Problem Solving Video Transcript

Housing problem solving - how to facilitate housing problem solving conversations

Denise, 54 years old, has been admitted to an acute inpatient care facility and is meeting with the hospital’s social worker, Amanda, now that she is medically stable. After introducing herself and having an initial conversation, Amanda gathers that Denise does not have close contacts with family and may not have a stable living situation.

Listen as Amanda practices housing problem solving with Denise.

Amanda: Denise, I would like to start thinking about where you plan to stay and what support you have after leaving the facility. I understand that you have not had a consistent place to live in the past few months, so I’d like to talk about places you have lived where you felt safe and see what option you might have for finding a safe housing situation again.

Denise: I think it’s best if I just go to Samaritan House. I stayed there a few years ago, and I can do it again. I’m sick of being such a burden on everyone.

Amanda: Unstable living situations can take a toll on a person’s health and well-being, let’s explore other options you may have instead of returning to shelter from the hospital. Talking about the past can be difficult, and you can stop our conversation at any time. 

Denise: Okay, that’s fine.

Amanda: I understand that you were admitted to the hospital from a housing situation that felt unstable. Can you tell me how long you were in this housing situation?

Denise: I was staying with my friend Jenny and her family for about 4 months. Great people. They let me stay with them after my ex-husband divorced me and I couldn’t pay for the motel I’d been staying at. I was just sleeping on the couch and they have kids so it was a lot for them to let me stay.

Amanda: Jenny and her family sound great. I’m glad you have a friend like her. Tell me more about the divorce and the motel. How long were you staying at the motel for?

Denise: Well, my ex-husband divorced me after I lost my job. I couldn’t find a new one and with all the free time I guess I was drinking with my buddies more than he liked. We were having issues before that though. So he divorced me and took the apartment. I had to borrow money from my mom for the motel but she’s struggling to pay her own bills already, so I only stayed there for about 2 months. She wasn’t very happy when I asked her for the money. I found another job at a warehouse but it doesn’t pay a lot. It’s going to take me a while to save up to pay for a security deposit, first, and last month’s rent all at once.

Amanda: Tell me more about your mother. Have you ever lived with her before, as an adult?

Denise: Yeah I’ve lived with her on and off over the years whenever my ex and I were having issues. Then I stayed with her for about seven months before the divorce went through. It was great for a while but we would fight and I would go stay at a friend’s house or at Samaritan House every now and then just to get out of the way. 

Amanda: It sounds like you do have some friends and family who could help support you after you leave the hospital. I wonder what it would be like to live with your mother again. You mentioned she struggles to pay the bills. Would it be possible for you to live with her and contribute to groceries and help around the house while you continue saving for an apartment?

Denise: I don’t know. My mom has helped me too much over the years. It’s embarrassing to keep asking, you know? The last time we talked was months ago. I don’t even know if she knows I’m here. I would rather just go to the shelter and save money there. 

Amanda: With your health issues, your condition could worsen in a place like a shelter. It is also difficult to keep a job when staying in shelter for longer periods. Shelters tend to have policies about how often and when you can come and go. And like you said, it could be a while before you save enough for an apartment. We don’t have to make any decisions today, but it is important we keep exploring your options so you have a safe place to stay after the hospital. Would it be okay to call your mother together to update her on your condition and your housing situation? 

Denise: Yeah I guess that’s fine. Don’t ask her if I can stay with her though. I just want to see what she says. 

During the phone call with Denise’s mother, Amanda gathers that the mother has been worried about Denise and doesn’t want her to go back to the shelter. She did offer for Denise to stay with her, but says she can only stay there if she is working and saving up for a new apartment. 

Amanda: Denise, what do you think about your mother offering to let you stay with her?

Denise: I guess that would be okay. It would give me some time to save up and you’re right, I need to keep my job and that would be tough to do if I was staying at the shelter. 

Amanda: Now, you mentioned before that the finances can be tough for your mother. Let me give you a list of places to call if you do need some help with utilities, food, or rent. And if you and your mother start fighting again, remember that your plan is to save for a new place of your own. 

Denise: Yeah and maybe I can just stay with Jenny a night here and there if I need a break from my mom.

Amanda: Great idea. 

At first, Denise was not willing to stay with her mother; she may have been too embarrassed to ask for help again. After some conversation about how shelter could impact Denise’s health and support from Amanda to make the phone call with Denise, Amanda was able to help Denise find a safe place to stay instead of discharging Denise to the shelter. Before Denise left the hospital, Amanda provided both Denise and her mother with a list of places that provide services like food pantries and emergency rental and utility assistance from the Housing Consumer Education Center website, which is linked on the Housing Tool previously mentioned in this training.