Placer County’s Home Safe program surpasses 150 elderly, at-risk clients served
Published June 29, 2023
As Elder Abuse Awareness Month comes to a close, Placer County's Home Safe program has reached a significant milestone, serving more than 150 clients in its first four years of operation.
Home Safe is a homelessness prevention program serving Adult Protective Services clients who have been victims of elder and dependent abuse or neglect. Case managers identify specific problems that place a client’s housing at risk – for instance, late payments, cleanliness and other issues – and then work with landlords, utility companies and others to develop solutions. This includes settling arrearages, rent subsidies, back payments on utilities, deep cleaning services or relocation. Staff also partner with community organizations from Legal Services of Northern California to Seniors First to Placer Independent Resource Services.
“I had gotten an eviction notice, they were gonna put me out on the street. I was scared to death and I didn't think I was ever going to live through it,” said 81-year-old Rocklin resident Shirley H., who had been abandoned by a family member and was no longer able to afford rent. Home Safe helped her get on Supplemental Security Income; find a roommate — another APS client — in an apartment where each could afford half the rent; and located an in-home worker to assist the pair with household tasks like shopping and cooking.
“They were also so very helpful,” Shirley said. “It was [from] no hope at all, to everything that we could want.”
Placer County was among the first in California to receive a competitive grant to implement Home Safe in 2019. With the success of the program, Home Safe funding is now available each year to every county statewide. All told, Home Safe has now served 158 Placer County residents, with 85% of graduated clients still reporting successful outcomes during subsequent followup and others having required higher levels of care or passed on. About a third of Home Safe clients come from homelessness, while the rest are at imminent risk of losing housing.
“If we can prevent homelessness by doing one-time back intervention, preventing evictions, helping them relocate to a more affordable living environment … then we avoid the costs of completely rehousing someone once they’ve become homeless,” said Shanon Lemons, a counselor who helps run the program. “We’re helping these clients stay in their community and live with dignity and respect.”
Jutta Z., another client, had to flee her old apartment suddenly on the heels of abuse. Home Safe found another apartment and helped navigate legalities around using her housing voucher. Now, she encourages others to reach out for help.
“I've met many seniors in parking lots who lived in their car, and they didn't know their resources. People don't know their resources. There is help,” she said. “It's really important that you don't feel embarrassed. Everybody needs some help.”
If you are concerned about an elder or dependent adult who may be experiencing abuse or neglect, call 916-787-8860 (or toll-free 888-886-5401) to make a report with Adult Protective Services. The most common form of abuse suffered by Adult Protective Services clients is financial abuse like phone or romance scams, followed by self-neglect. June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.