BEAM helps low-income seniors affected by local housing boom
The Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) formalized Senior Case Management Program started in 2018, and has helped more than 147 local seniors regain independence and self-sufficiency. The program improves the lives of low-income elderly individuals in the Beaches community who have little to no family nearby. Services include grocery delivery, telephone reassurance, minor home repairs and hurricane preparedness kits.
During the pandemic, BEAM provided additional services to this high-risk population who were reluctant to leave their homes and ordered to “shelter in place” under the mayoral executive order.
This year brought on a new set of challenges for BEAM. As the housing market continues to soar at unprecedented levels, local seniors are being forced to leave their rental properties as new owners eye revitalization. Many of the seniors BEAM assisted have lived in their rental properties for decades, and are blindsided that they have to leave their homes with no affordable rental properties nearby.
“I received a call from one of our senior clients, Neil, stating that he was being kicked out of his home after 15 years of renting the property. He was in fear that he would become homeless,” said Debbie Andalora, BEAM’s senior program case manager. “Then the calls started flooding in — multiple clients were experiencing the same problem due to the housing market. We knew we had to step up and provide immediate one-on-one care to make sure these seniors had a safe place to go.”
Here is Neil’s story:
Neil, a 69-year-old senior, was forced to leave his Atlantic Beach apartment that he called home for when the owner sold the property to an investor that had plans to complete major renovations. When Neil connected with BEAM he had no idea what he was going to do. He was scared and anxious as he had no control over his situation. He also did not have family members for support.
Andalora provided emotional support and was able to work with Neil to find a supportive community that fit his budget. BEAM helped him with his first month’s rent and covered the cost of movers who helped him gather his belongings and get him settled in his new home, a low-income senior facility.
According to Neil, BEAM “profoundly” changed his life. His demeanor has changed from feeling he had no options to being incredibly happy to find a new home that provides him with a better outlook on life. He has access to a $2 shuttle to get to doctor appointments, run errands and take trips with other senior residents.
Neil is one of five displaced low-income seniors that BEAM has recently helped due to the turnover of low-income rental property and scarcity of affordable housing for seniors at the beach and throughout Jacksonville.
BEAM helps provide emergency assistance and a path to economic stability to low-income families and individuals in the Beaches area. Founded in 1985, its services include rent and utility assistance, two food pantries, the BEAM Food Bank and a garden that provides thousands of pounds of fresh produce annually to our clients.
In addition, BEAM offers nutrition, single parent and senior case management programs, assistance with SNAP Benefits, Medicaid applications, income tax filling help (in partnership with RealSense), Thanksgiving baskets and a Back-to-School program serving about 800 kids each year. A 501(c)(3) organization, BEAM also makes referrals to other agencies that can provide additional support services to families in crisis.
For more information, go to JaxBEAM.org.