Elders Living at Home Program
Return to List of Our Stories
“When we have any difficulties, this program helps us, everyone helps us.”
Betty and her husband were professionals in China. But with the Cultural Revolution they were stripped of everything they had by the Communist government. Not only did they lose everything, but they also were subjected to torture. But she and her husband made the best of their lives under the Communist repression. They raised a family and helped some of their children escape China and come to the United States.
In the mid 1990’s, when they were in their late 60’s, Betty and her husband were granted visas to come to the United States. They agreed to provide child care to their grandchildren in Boston. Their son wouldn’t pay them, but instead would let them live with him. Betty and her husband didn’t have any money. They counted on their son for housing and food.
After a few years, their son no longer needed their help and didn’t want them living with him anymore, so Betty and her husband found themselves without a place to live. They stayed with friends for a while, but that was very difficult. They had to constantly move and things were always overcrowded. Compounding matters, Betty's husband was physically disabled from the torture he endured years earlier. The sudden homelessness re-traumatized Betty, causing a relapse of her PTSD from her years of torture.
Feeling desperate, Betty sought help from the City of Boston’s Elderly Commission. They gave her information about ELAHP, and she found her way to the program’s office at Boston Medical Center.
As quickly as possible, ELAHP provided them with emergency, temporary housing to make sure they would be safe. Then ELAHP connected them with medical care at Boston Medical Center and with legal services through the Medical/Legal Partnership because their immigration status had become uncertain because of the lost support from their son. As their physical and emotional health stabilized, their ELAHP Case Manager was able to work with them to acquire a rental subsidy and find a suitable permanent apartment. She also guided them to food pantries, clothing providers and furniture banks, and helped them apply for the benefits that would allow them to meet their daily needs and improve their standard of living. “We got their great help,” Betty says, “because they work independently but cooperate very well. This program definitely won our hearts and our great appreciation.”
ELAHP has continued to work with Betty and her husband for ten years. “When we have any difficulties,” she says, “this program helps us, everyone helps us. As an example, last year I fell down on the street and a man called 911 and I went to the hospital. After that, the nurse came, Roger came, everyone came to see me.”
Betty explains that because of the help they received from ELAHP, they were able to learn English, and last year, became United States citizens. She says that because of the program’s spirit, “now I do volunteer work for five years and my husband wants his organs donated to medical science.”