Miss Rosie’s Way Home

Miss Rosie came to National Health Foundation’s (NHF) Mid-City recuperative care facility via our partner agency, People Concern. NHF and People Concern work together to provide pathways to housing for individuals requiring the medical oversight that recuperative care provides. The People Concern outreach team had met with Miss Rosie a number of times and had identified her as a frequent emergency room visitor who was in dire need of a break from the chronic homelessness she had been experiencing for more than 30 years. The break would certainly help her to regain her strength and health while possibly providing her with an opportunity to be placed into permanent supportive housing. She arrived with her beloved dog, The Professor, and a pair of parakeets in late January 2019.

Not much was known about Miss Rosie’s past other than a severe bout of mental illness led her to leave her family and three children behind, moving into a succession of homeless communities prior to arriving at an encampment near Ventura boulevard in late 2018. There, an irate ‘neighbor’ burned her tent down. Twice. Miss Rosie credits her dog with saving her life. Sensing the fire, he tugged at her until she woke up and scrambled to safety.

When Miss Rosie arrived at NHF, she shared her motivation for coming in off the streets, “I just got so tired of the violence and the moving we had to do. Every two weeks law enforcement would come around and we’d have to move all of our things away. It just got to be too much for me. I didn’t get any help and my eyesight was failing me, so it was getting too hard.”

NHF’s dedicated team of case managers had two goals for Miss Rosie: Help her achieve a greater degree of health and provide her with the training necessary to qualify for and maintain supported housing. Toni Wells, NHF’s recuperative care program manager at Mid-City shared the plan, “People assume that you can take a person who has experienced homelessness for decades and hand them a set of apartment keys and all will be well. That’s simply not the case. Miss Rosie needed intensive case management to connect her with all of the social services she was qualified for. Then she had to relearn important personal skills to ensure a smooth transition to living in a community like how to manage her hygiene, keep a clean apartment, pay her bills on time, be a good neighbor, and care for her pets and belongings. In the six months Miss Rosie was here, she made so much progress. She’s ready to care for her health, manage her day-to-day living and be a part of her community.”

In July, Miss Rosie moved into her modest studio apartment just blocks from Skid Row with The Professor, her 2 birds and a kitten she rescued along the way. The apartment features a large window looking out into the leafy courtyard and People Concern provides support services to ensure Miss Rosie stays housed. She had this to say, “I’ve forgotten how to do things like use a stove or a thermostat but right now I am just happy to be here. I sometimes miss being on the outside, but I just can’t physically live on the street anymore. But do you want to hear something nice? One of my sons found me this weekend! He found me and we spoke on the phone for 5 hours. We have a lot to catch up on. It’s been 30 years. He told me he’s going to call me mom, because that’s who I am. I am his mom and that makes me happy.”