Disabled DV Survivor Moving Forward

Paula is in a bind. (Paula’s pronouns are they/them.) They are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and unable to work. SSI provides Paula $783/month. This is their only income. They are on several waitlists for wheelchair-accessible housing.  

In July, their live-in ex-partner became severely physically abusive and was forced to leave their apartment. This person paid the rent in full for their apartment, which is $1431. Now Paula must pay the rent on their own. Living only on SSI, this is next to impossible. Fortunately, Paula has had some help paying for rent up until now, but they are on the hook for the full rent for the foreseeable future. Paula has been using their SSI payments to pay for food, medical supplies, medication and other living expenses.

Paula is on SSI because they have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Dysautonomia and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). EDS is a genetic disorder that affects collagen and causes it to be very weak. It has led to a severe slowing of Paula’s GI tract.

Dysautonomia is a condition in which the autonomic nervous system does not work properly. It can affect the functioning of the heart, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, pupils, and blood vessels. It has paralyzed some of Paula’s GI tract. Because of this condition, Paula deals with low blood pressure and fatigue, both of which lead to Paula having problems with standing and sometimes sitting up. Paula uses a wheelchair because of this.

MCAS is a condition where a person can experience repeated episodes of acute allergic reactions (also known as anaphylaxis). Whenever Paula eats, their body reacts and they swell up.

Because of all of their conditions, Paula has a central line, which is a tube that goes into their chest—to a major vein above their heart. It gives them 24/7 IV access so they can be on their continuous Benadryl infusion (for MCAS), on IV meds, and on total parenteral nutrition (TPN) (a method of receiving nutrients via an IV).

Paula cannot leave their apartment and go to a homeless shelter for several reasons. First of all, with their health issues, shelters will not accept Paula. Secondly, they have medical supplies which have to be refrigerated and they cannot be left behind. Thirdly, they would simply be institutionalized if they became homeless due to the complexity of care they need.

Paula is currently on several housing waitlists for wheelchair-accessible housing. Paula has entered into two Section 8 lotteries, is on several waitlists for subsidized housing, and is working with several local agencies, such as Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Atlantis Community to find a home.

Paula is so close to having stability and a completely new life they love when it comes to managing their conditions and severing all ties to their abusive ex-partner. They just need help getting over this hard part. In spite of a recent setback that Paula is actively addressing, their health has greatly improved since starting TPN. The housing is the last major hurdle.

Paula is asking for your help with rent for December and the next three months, which totals $5724. If they find housing before the next three months are up, they will put the money towards moving expenses.

Thank you to Anne for writing this!
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Phyllis Repko 
Denver, CO
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