At the age of 68, Art Betancourt had been living on the streets of Mesa for two years. He was attending the Tuesday night services at La Mesa when he heard about the Resource Center. Little did Art know that his life was about to change for the better. Sandy directed Art to meet with the Resource Center in hopes of finding housing. Art was too proud to live at a shelter. He was determined to live out on the streets and make things work the best he could. He was collecting Social Security, but it was not enough to afford an apartment. We knew the only way Art was going to get off the streets was to find him a senior apartment complex that would only charge 30% of his income, and where the waiting list was reasonable. We found the Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix – a senior only complex where Art qualified for subsidized rent. The waiting list was four months. We assisted him in getting all the required documents and submitted his application in late October 2019. While Art was waiting for his apartment to be ready, he attended a six-week course on financial management held at La Mesa and presented by volunteer, Greg Boerwinkle. By completing this course was eligible to have La Mesa cover 50 % of his move-in costs. Art was the first person to complete the class at La Mesa, and to receive his certificate. Unfortunately, though he had completed the class, the waiting period seemed like forever, and Art soon became disheartened ready to give up. But with La Mesa’s encouragement and support, he didn’t lose faith. Nearly five months after first submitting Art’s application, the day finally came when the Westward Ho contacted La Mesa to set up a meeting to complete the processing of Art’s application. He was number 11 on the waiting list. We met with the complex manager on March 17th and were told the only document needed to keep the process going was an updated Award Letter from Social Security – one more “simple” step! Then on March 22, Social Security closed their offices due to COVID -19. Everything had to be done online or over the phone. Art thought for sure, now, he would never have his own apartment, and was destined to live out his remaining health challenged life on the streets of Mesa. But after 30 days, and several hours spent on the phone, the submission of many online requests, and contacting local Congressman, the Social Security Office sent the required documents – just 2 weeks before the Westward Ho was going to remove Art from the waiting list! On April 24, 2020 Art moved into his very own, 14th floor apartment, overlooking Central Avenue and the City of Phoenix. On May 20th, La Mesa’s partner, Furnishing Dignity, provided Art with all needed furnishings and household items. Today, Art is doing well! He still attends La Mesa to worship and be part of the community. He is so thankful that he is off the streets and living in an apartment he can afford. Praise God for lifting Art up, helping him not to lose hope, and for providing him with shelter. Praise Him for His guidance and direction in helping La Mesa facilitate Art’s success, and for his being given an opportunity to become sheltered and live a healthier, more secure life.
And thank you to all of those who support La Mesa, our mission and our important work. You make stories like Art’s possible!