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Cash Cows and HUD Interviews| Part 5

This is not a CASH Cow
Creative Commons License photo credit: bixentro

Part 5 | When did Aaron become a Cash Cow?

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on HUD. I am sharing my personal experience. Please check with your local HUD.gov office.

In the last four posts, I’ve been documenting our journey toward moving Aaron, our son with the label of autism and developmental disabilities, to a new county with his HUD “housing choice voucher program” and Medicaid Waiver:

HUD Tips for Parents and Guardians of People with Disabilities| Part 1.

HUD Tips for People with Disabilities| Part 2

HUD Tips for People with Disabilities| Part 3

Part 4| HUD Tips for Parents of People with Disabilities

“Back on the Ferris Wheel” Analogy…

In Part 4, Aaron and I were stuck on top of the ferris wheel, rocking back and forth as a lightening storm is approaching—tired, scared and trying to keep from hurling our lunches–while far below, the “professional” ride engineer fumbles with buttons, trying to remember if he was supposed to push the forward or backward button….

OR

Ahem. I wish this were fiction, no one will believe the truth and ensuing drama.

When we left off, Aaron and I were waiting for an appointment with the HUD officer in the “receiving county” to accept/deny our “30 Day Notice of Port”:

1. I don’t know these people. And, I really am trying to follow the rules.

2. The 30 days deadline is approaching quickly.

3. The officer from the “receiving county” doesn’t make appointments over the phone. Their policy is to send an official letter with a date and time–and you need to be there. (This is one of the shocks when you aren’t considered to be middle class any more.)

4. By Day 10 of not hearing from them, I am getting nervous the 30 days will run out before we even get an appointment. Everyone seems to be taking vacation time, and then there is the carpet….

5. No one is returning my phone calls. Again, I’m thinking it is vacation and the damn carpet….

Evil Carnival Clowns

A supervisor for the Residential Company we are leaving keeps harassing me that we are not including him in our meetings. “What meetings?” I keep asking him.
Here is where it gets interesting:

Remember back to Thanksgiving Weekend, when the mailman declared Aaron’s house as “vacant” and refused to deliver the mail. See post: Caregivers| This isn’t my job

All mail is sent to main office
Well, since there was a systemic problem with staff not picking up the mail and forwarding bills…the administration of the residential company made a policy to have all mail sent to their main office.

So, the bills do get paid with this new policy.

But all other mail may, or may not, get back to the house ie. Aaron’s birthday card from his grandmother came to the house 2 weeks late.

So, the same residential staff, who couldn’t bother to reach 6 inches outside the door and open the mailbox, is supposed to drive to the main office (10 miles each way—non reimbursed) and pick up the mail.

So the letter from HUD sat in the main office for two weeks. (Voila—date, time, 30 days timeline….)

And, since the mail is going to the main office, any letter which looks important is then screened by the administration. (VOILA—oh my, they are having a meeting and we aren’t invited. Oh my, it looks like we are going to lose Aaron’s waiver money, and maybe he will take the whole house to another company….

Oh my, we will lose the cash cow….

So, the 30 day deadline is ticking away. I am calling the HUD office hysterical I can’t even get an appointment, and the letter with the date and time is sitting in a mailbox in the main office of the residential company I think is totally incompetent and the reason we are leaving the county to begin with.

Plus, since the residential company is trying to sabotage this because they are losing Aaron’s cash cow, they certainly don’t care if the parents miss the deadline, because as all service providers know, “parents are irresponsible.”

So, by the time I get the letter, the appointment is the next day, the same day as the speech evaluation we have waited for, for six months.

Actual Visit with HUD representative

Good news

Once I actually talked to the “receiving county” representative, she was wonderful and we became human beings again.

We scheduled the appointment for the following day. I was on time, she was on time and for the next 2 hours, she reviewed all the forms, policies, restrictions against parents owning the HUD property, and I walked out of her office with Aaron’s packet of forms to be presented to the landlord. She even gave us a list of potential landlords.

We left the meeting with a hug and best wishes. I felt this was a woman I could work with and was excited that we had jumped through this hoop successfully.

Back to Disability World

Now, if Aaron was just poor and had his Section 8 rent voucher for our new county, we would just go shopping for the best apartment/house that would accept the voucher. Because of the low rent, it would be difficult, but doable.

But Aaron isn’t just poor. He also has a severe disability. So, now we begin the journey of looking for not only a landlord (not parents) who will accept the Section 8 voucher, now we must find a roommate who also is looking for a place to live and who has a Medicaid Waiver to compliment Aaron’s waiver.

Medicaid Waiver

I cannot emphasize enough how lucky we are to have the HUD portable voucher. I also have to shout to the heavens a huge thank you that we have a Medicaid Waiver voucher. Without either one of these programs, we would not even have a chance of having a life for Aaron–or traveling this journey toward Aaron living close to us, with a good roommate and the 24/7 care he needs.

From: Mary E. Ulrich [mailto:marye.ulrich1@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:39 PM
To: Administrator of New County
Subject: Aaron Ulrich

Dear Mr. ____,

HUD

Today I asked for the 30 day extension on the HUD rent subsidy, so we have until August 31.

I met with HUD staff in both W and B County.

Our 2 hour meeting in W County involved filling out all the paperwork, and we are now ready to go in W County.

I learned that if Aaron uses the rent subsidy he must stay in that place for a year before he can move. If Aaron is not placed by 120 days he will lose the voucher completely and go back to the bottom of the 3-5 year waiting list.

If I understood it correctly, Aaron could move into our home during the 120 day period. He would not be using his HUD voucher during this time; W County HUD would be holding it for him. We could use this time to establish his W county residence so we could get a support coordinator, etc. I’m not sure how this would affect his Medicaid waiver, but at least he would be out of the clutches of the current residential company and we could get a support coordinator.

According to HUD, In-home support staff can be family members, or not. They would get an extra bedroom in the home if they live there full time. (Not shift workers).

We were given a list of apartments and rental homes in W County that take Section 8 clients. Another housing option is just to check out houses for rent and then ask the landlord to take section 8.

There is an exemption for parents to own the house, but in the 13 years Wendy (the HUD representative) has worked in W County only one was ever approved. So it is a hard sell. (But we could try if we need to.) That person was deaf and blind and the argument was that it would be too hard for him to learn the physical layout of any house other than the one he had grown up in.

Other CompaniesTransportation Money

Aaron is over his transportation budget to go from his current home in to Goodwill/Easter Seals Day Program. At his current rate, he will be out of transportation money by Sept.

The long bus ride (around 90 minutes each way) is still causing him to have increased behaviors (chewing his shirts, biting hands, toileting accident…)

Residential Company

Aaron’s current company is very difficult to work with and putting pressure on us. The supervisor said to move the Medicaid Waiver Support services from one county to the next is also a complex process. (And I’m not sure how cooperative they will be, so we might need extra time.)

Roommates

We would appreciate any phone numbers of potential roommates as soon as possible.

Thanks for all your help. I’m sure there is another person looking for someone like Aaron.

Mary

I am posting the administrator’s response. I like this person. I think he is competent, showed a lot of empathy and truly wants to help. I just want others to see what the process looks like from a parent’s point of view. I also think the 120 day maximum extension period should have some flexibility for special situations.

From: _____________name of administrator
To: Mary E. Ulrich
Sent: Wed, Jul 27, 2011 9:07 pm (notice the poor guy wrote this at night after office hours, before he left for vacation—that gives him bonus points IMHO).
Subject: RE: Aaron Ulrich
Mary,

I am still actively seeking possible housemates that may be a good fit for Aaron. I have requested ___(service coordinator) assist with connecting Aaron and a gentleman living in (county seat). She will be speaking with this person’s SSA to determine if he believes they may be a good match. I am hesitant to involve the other family at this time unless the match may work. I am hopeful it will and then we will assist with connecting you and his mother.

Unfortunately, I am not able to approve Aaron living alone in his own home with 24/7 staffing. The quickest option for Aaron moving to W County is to reside with you. He can receive homemaker/personal care services in your home with a provider of your choosing. If you choose to move Aaron into your home, I will continue my efforts in finding a suitable residential home for Aaron.

I must add that I cannot guarantee a suitable home will be available for Aaron within 120 days of moving.

I understand that this matter is very frustrating to Tom and yourself but I believe finding a good housemate for Aaron is the first priority. While the HUD matter is a concern, I may not be able to solve this dilemma within HUD timelines.

To complicate matters more, I will be on vacation beginning 7/28 and will return 8/8. I have requested ___(a service coordinator) give you a call once she communicates with the potential housemate’s SSA. I am still hoping we can resolve this quickly. Thanks.

__________ name
Service and Support Administration Director
W County
O:
F:
Emergency #: 1-800-

Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.

COMMENTS

WILL THE FERRIS WHEEL LAND SAFELY?
WILL MARY AND AARON SMOOTHLY MOVE ON TO THE NEXT RIDE?
WILL ANOTHER FAMILY TAKE THEIR SEATS ON THE FERRIS WHEEL?
WILL THE “RIDE ENGINEER” LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FORWARD AND BACKWARD BUTTONS?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.

All my best,

Mary

OTHER RELATED POSTS:


Signing Your Life Away (Literally)

Dream Plan for Aaron (Part 4)

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