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LifeSTEPS Celebrates Pride Month

LifeSTEPS respects and embraces diversity in all forms, and we work hard to foster an environment of inclusion and equality. To celebrate Pride Month 2021, we are excited to share what pride means to our LifeSTEPS family and community.

“For me, we remember those that have been hurt by rejection, or dismissed, and marginalized by their relatives and the oppressive majority, whether at work, church, or the community in which they live. Pride is a place where we can dream together, hope for a better future, heal and love knowing we aren’t alone in the fight against discrimination.” – Gabe, LifeSTEPS Director of Social Services

Emergency Assistance for a Family in Need

Imagine losing your home during COVID-19. After a fire ravaged her apartment this past April, Grace, a single mother of two young children, found herself living in a hotel. The fire resulted in a total loss of her belongings, including her clothing and groceries.

“The fire in Grace’s apartment was a total loss because of water and smoke damage. Grace lost her family’s food and all of their clothing. Even her EBT cards burned, making it difficult for Grace to feed her family,” explained LifeSTEPS Director or Social Services Adam Ralli.

As the sole income provider for her family, Grace had faced many challenges over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced hours at her job and two children learning remotely at home, she didn’t think life could get any more difficult, until the fire.

“Before COVID, I loved my full-time job as a skills instructor for in-home care, and I loved my clients. Due to the pandemic, school closures and a lack of childcare, I had to stop working. My income was reduced while my expenses increased,” said Grace.

After the fire, Grace and her children relocated to a hotel room, where she lived until a new unit became available at her affordable housing community in mid-May. Without her home or EBT cards, Grace felt lost until learned about LifeSTEPS’ emergency assistance program from Adam. Adam met with Grace who explained the program in depth and immediately created a plan to get Grace and her family back on their feet.

“Grace turned to LifeSTEPS for help. At the hotel, Grace was struggling with meals and school work. She doesn’t have a car and was paying family and friends for gas to drive her to meetings and the grocery store,” said Adam.

With Adam’s intervention, Grace was able to secure critical transportation and grocery emergency assistance from LifeSTEPS. Adam helped her apply to the SERA 2 program, and she received emergency rental assistance for previous outstanding rental balances. She secured CalFresh, Cash Aid and EDD unemployment benefits. She also applied for renter’s insurance which allowed her to gain compensation for the total loss of her belongings after the fire. And with Adam’s guidance, Grace will continue her search for remote employment, as well as additional community resources to help her family find financial stability.

“Before the fire, Grace was unaware of LifeSTEPS and our resident services. She is so grateful that our resources were available onsite at her apartment community. She’s had a lot of her plate but with our help, she has taken huge steps toward achieving self-sufficiency for her family after a serious challenge,” said Adam.

Grace and her children recently moved into their new apartment, and the smiles have returned to their faces. “I’m so thankful for LifeSTEPS’ intervention and assistance,” said Grace. “When it’s safe to do so, I can’t wait to give back to the community by volunteering to help others in need.”

Eliminating the Medi-Cal asset test will help more LifeSTEPS residents age in place

More LifeSTEPS residents will age in place with the elimination of the Medi-Cal asset test

LifeSTEPS is joining Justice in Aging and the Western Center on Law & Poverty and other aging and disability services organizations to respectfully request that California eliminate the Medi-Cal asset test for seniors and people with disabilities.  The current limit, which has not increased since 1989, prevents low-income older adults and many people with disabilities from saving enough money to weather a crisis, such as an eviction.

The elimination of the asset test in public programs reflects a shift away from requiring low-income people to deplete all their resources prior to receiving help. The vast majority of Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal are not subject to an asset test.  Extending this policy to older Californians and persons with disabilities will help increase financial and housing stability while ensuring people can keep their health care.  Additionally, eliminating the asset limit will simplify the administration of the Medi-Cal program by reducing application and renewal barriers that force people to document their financial accounts and property every year.

Stable & affordable housing is proven to improve health outcomes.

We believe housing is foundational for strong, healthy and equitable communities. Studies show that housing insecurity creates chronic health disparities that impact how well a person lives, and for how long. These health impacts fall disproportionately on low-income people and people of color, exacerbating the already disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on these communities.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 35 percent of families spent more than 30 percent of income on housing in 2017. Because of this, families often sacrifice necessities like healthcare and nutrition in order to make rent, which can lead to increased stress, mental health problems and an increased risk of disease. Healthy housing promotes good physical and mental health, which is why we’re committed to expanding access to equitable and affordable housing for all.