Homeless Elders program helped Booker go home again

Until recently, Booker and his wife Linda had a place to call home, a duplex they shared with Linda’s adult son.

When that duplex was sold by the owner and everyone was asked to leave so rent could be raised—they were left with few options.

Booker, 65 has been with Linda, 64 since 1980. They’re a true team and face life’s obstacles together.

“I love how she loves me,” Booker said of his longtime love. “We have been through the ups and the downs together.”

That love is unconditional, not only for Linda but also her son. Linda and her son both suffer from schizophrenia and are unable to work due to mental health issues.

Booker said he tries to take good care of them—and remembers the request Linda’s mother made nearly 40 years ago.

“Her momma said ‘Take care of my baby’ and I try to live up to that,” Booker said. “Linda is an anchor for me. I know I need to be there for her. I’m thankful for the commitment because the commitment keeps me focused.”

When Linda was taken off a medication, it had a negative reaction which led to an encounter with the police. They looked in all corners of the Twin Cities, even outside the metro, but had no luck finding something they could afford or a landlord willing to rent to them. Some didn’t accept the Section 8 vouchers, others said no because there was a charge (but no conviction) on Linda’s record.

“We were so stressed with no idea of where we were going to sleep,” Booker said.

Waiting and searching for answers, they spent the little money they had taking refuge in a motel.

When a friend suggested Catholic Charities’ Homeless Elder Program—an innovative and unique program which helps seniors transition from homelessness to permanent housing, providing supportive services along the way—they finally found hope.

Melea Blanchard is program supervisor for the Homeless Elder Program. With a lot of phone calls and a bit of luck, she found a landlord to work with Booker’s family. They were able to move into a senior living apartment and finally found peace.

Booker credit’s Catholic Charities and Melea’s advocacy for helping them move into a home. Catholic Charities helped with the damage deposit and first month’s rent and Booker and Linda are maintaining stability on their own.

“We no longer have to worry about what will become of us. It gives us faith in people, too,” Booker said. “A lot of times, it feels like you’re in it alone. It is good to know that someone out there is willing to help you. It’s good to know not everyone is coming for a paycheck. They actually care about you. That kind of thing can make a change in people.”

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