Five years ago, Susan became extremely ill and found herself in the hospital with a diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. It was this wake-up call that led to changing her lifestyle, including going to substance abuse treatment to stop drinking alcohol. Susan has successfully followed a program of recovery, which was vital to her livelihood.
Susan worked for many years in customer service and has always been a hard worker. Due to her disease, she became very ill in 2012, leaving her unable to work after hospital treatment. Illness led to job loss, which then led to losing her apartment and becoming homeless. Susan stayed at an emergency shelter and eventually a social service provider assisted her with placing her name on the Chicago Central Referral System (CRS). Independent Community Living Programs (ICLP) and other permanent supportive housing programs use the CRS as a central waiting list to provide housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Susan moved into her sunny apartment in Roger’s Park last autumn, through the Independent Community Living Program. She keeps her space clean and organized, with beautifully polished hardwood floors. Her condition often leaves her tired and easily susceptible to illness. Additionally it causes brittleness of bones, which led to breaking her ankle while polishing her floor last winter, just as Susan was settling into her new home.
Susan’s broken ankle left her homebound and in a cast throughout the winter, after having two surgeries. She has close friends who visited, helped with laundry, picked up her mail and medications, and would drive her to the CTA train station to get to appointments. ICLP also provided support. Susan’s case manager visited her at home, bringing additional groceries, toiletries, bus passes, and emotional support. During the visits, staff were able to get to know Susan better, sharing life stories, laughter, and learning about her neighbors.
In July, Susan’s cast finally came off. She was beaming as she came to visit LPCS offices for her case management appointment, able to walk with without a walker. She chooses her preferences from the LPCS pantry and household items from the Graduate/ICLP closet. Each time we meet, she smiles as she shares her improvements.
Today, Susan has been in her home for almost a year, and looks forward to signing another leaser, continuing with the Independent Community Living Program. She joyfully shares about her walks to Lake Michigan. She goes to the library a block from home to use the computer, attends AA meetings in her neighborhood, and knows her neighbors.