HPRP Success Stories: 16-month-old has a new heart and a new home

written by naehblog
January 4, 2010

For most homeless families, living in a friend’s apartment might work better than sleeping in a car or finding shelter space, but for a family caring for an infant who is recovering from a heart transplant, these options are simply not an option. This family needs a stable home.

With the help of New York’s Department of Homeless Services, their partners and stimulus funding through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, Baby J and his family found one.

The latest in our series of HPRP success stories comes from Holly Frindell from the Department of Homeless Services in New York.

In August, Baby J was hospitalized with what doctors initially thought was bronchiolitis, but was quickly discovered to be heart failure. His health deteriorated rapidly and he was placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Two weeks following the baby’s admission to the hospital, his parents and three-year-old brother were evicted from their apartment. His father had lost his construction job eight months prior, and the family fell into arrears, eventually losing the apartment where they had lived for more than four years.

The family was fortunate to have relatives to turn to for help, doubling up in a two-bedroom apartment where two other adults and two other children already were living. Word came in November that a heart finally had become available. With the transplant complete, however, the overcrowded apartment no longer was suitable. The hospital transplant team feared that the overcrowding would place the baby at significant risk for infection that could possibly lead to his death. Hospital staff reached out to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to see if suitable shelter could be arranged, as the family had no other housing options.

Through intensive cooperative efforts by DHS and hospital staff, the family was placed temporarily at a shelter close to the hospital, where the family had to return three times a week for Baby J’s appointments.

At the same time, the New York City homelessness community prevention and rapid re-housing program, Homebase,was hard at work helping the family secure a suitable, affordable apartment as quickly as possible.

The family was notified the week before Thanksgiving that their application for a subsidized apartment had been accepted. Baby J, along with his parents and brother, moved in just in time to celebrate both heart and home.