A Day in the Life: Rapid Re-housing Associate Director Anthony Samuel
Spend a day with Rapid Re-housing Associate Director Anthony Samuel and learn about how we help youth find different solutions for independent housing.
Arrive at 47 West St.
Review Case Managers’ Notes
When I first sit down at my desk, I check my email, especially for any reports or messages from Case Managers that have come in overnight. I oversee several Case Managers who work day-to-day with youth, helping to find housing, assisting with rent payment, and serving as the touch point to Bridge and the rest of our services. This is how I keep up-to-date with what’s going on.
Because Case Managers are so important, we are always looking for new ones so we can best serve our youth. A big part of my job is training new staff, so at 10 AM, I join a Housing Search meeting that our newest Case Manger is having with a youth. As the Case Manager leads our new program participant through the Housing Search process – learning about their preferences for living alone vs. with a roommate, taking into account any location requirements (such as a need to be near a job or away from an abusive partner), reviewing what fits into their budget – I give feedback on a particular neighborhood, or share a lead I have from a collaborating provider, such as a landlord in our network…
Speak with Landlord
At 11 am, I get a call from a landlord who has a unit he is looking to rent, knows that Bridge has more youth looking for housing, and has had a good experience with us in the past. In this program, we work closely with our youth in their role as tenants, meaning we find ways to help each youth pay rent on time and build trust with their landlords. This investment in ensuring that Bridge youth are good tenants fosters positive relationships with landlords, not only with their young adult renters, but also with Bridge as an organization. Most importantly, it reduces some of the stigma landlords may have around renting to formerly homeless individuals. These connections mean that landlords sometimes reach out to us to give us first passes at eligible apartments that they have available. They might even tell other landlords about us (more on this later).
Lunch on the Common
After a busy morning, I treat myself to a lunch on the Boston Common, which is just outside my door!
Follow Up with Landlord B, whose contact info was given to us by Landlord A
After lunch, I review my call with Landlord A and decide to give a call to his colleague, Landlord B, who is new to Bridge. Landlord A provided a positive introduction about how we have many interested tenants who have the organization’s full support and backing. I explain a bit about Rapid Re-housing to Landlord B, outlining how the program works and why it would be a great fit.
Meet with a new youth and help verify their papers and their eligibility for the program
In addition to Case Managers, my team also has RRH Coordinators. Their role is to help RRH youth get their paperwork in order and plan out how they will afford rent over the 2-year span of the RRH program. Because RRH is a city-wide program, Bridge receives program referrals and it is our job to make sure they do, in fact, qualify for the program. While the Coordinator is working with a youth recently referred to Bridge, I stop by, say hello, and welcome them to our program. I want to make sure they feel comfortable and know we are here to help with any issues that arise. I also want to make sure to mention all of the Bridge programs and services that they can take advantage of while they are involved with us, from Behavioral Health Therapy to Education and Career support!
Sit down with a RRH Coordinator to approve a “Budget Sheet” of what a youth’s payment plan will look like for their two-year stay in a RRH apartment.
Once a youth is approved for RRH and has found suitable housing, the RRH Coordinator and I will work to make a customized plan that outlines how each youth will pay rent and increase their percentage of rent paid over the two-year period of the program (as is required). At 2 PM, I sit down with one of the Coordinators to review the Budget Sheet for a new program participant. This includes careful calculation of their income and any other government subsidies they are receiving and how this will balance against their rent and any other living expenses.
Get an email from a youth who is having trouble making rent — collaborate with their Case Coordinator & Case Manager to come up with an alternate payment plan
At Bridge, we know that things don’t always go according to plan, so we are always ready with a Plan B. Just as I’m starting to wind down my day, I get an email from a Case Manager that one of our youth, who has been doing well lately and contributing progressively more towards their rent each month, has just lost their job and won’t be able to make rent payments for a while. Even though this is a setback, it’s definitely not a disaster. I speak with Case Manager and remind them that some of the flexibility of RRH is that you have the full two years to show improvement. I then look at the youth’s file and their Budget Sheet to offer some options for how to get back on track, such as extra help from Bridge, referrals to other resources, or motivational interviewing (to help youth think through their situation and the available options). Wherever possible, we try to avoid giving youth the answers, preferring to provide the tools needed to work out problems themselves. I notice that the Case Manager has also mentioned in the email that the youth is feeling stressed about finding a new job, so I suggest that the two of them make an appointment with a Bridge Team Member in the Education & Career department, so the youth can rebuild their resume and build their confidence as they start the job search.
As I drive home, I think about the highs and lows of the day – although hectic, the wins make up for it.