Even in 2021, the life expectancy for a person whose been homeless is around 50 years of age, 20 years less than a housed person. Stress, lack of sleep and nutrition, and the trauma of living in the elements and in shelters takes its toll. At CASA, we focus on the healing that happens when someone moves into their home. That is what we are all here for! To imagine the joy of locking a door, taking a warm shower any time of day, sleeping on clean sheets and making your own breakfast. We love to see residents walk four inches taller a few months after moving in. Last year, 67% of CASA residents surveyed said their physical health has improved since moving into their apartment.
There are many reasons to celebrate. However, as the past year has highlighted, we owe deep gratitude to unsung heroes in our communities that show up and go to work during times of grief and sadness as well. When a vacancy opens up in a CASA apartment, the most common reason is because its long time occupant has passed away. We grieve for our friends and we try to focus on the peace that they found in their final years.
On a practical level, there are many important tasks to do when a resident passes –calling the police and/or EMS, waiting for them to enter the apartment, notifying the next of kin and meeting them in their time of grief, helping gather their personal belongings. When most of the arrangements have been made, the final step is changing the locks.
When the news is not good, CASA’s maintenance and housing staff members show up with the same compassion and kindness that they bring to move-in days and new beginnings.
To everything there is a season, and as we come out of such a wrenching year, recognizing those who keep us going through the hard times feels especially important.