Westhab staff at Broadway Manor and Travers House recently housed a Yonkers man who had been homeless for almost a decade. Their dedication and professionalism helped a long-term Westhab client, Mr. Henry, finally have a place to call home.
Jenascia Muniz, pictured above to the right, is the Service Coordinator at Broadway Manor, a drop-in emergency shelter in Yonkers, and oversees the entire team there. When she started as an intern in 2019, Westhab had served a regular client, Mr. Henry, for several years already. A battle with mental illness and bad experiences in the system left Mr. Henry reluctant to accept permanent housing or help. He preferred to stay nightly at the Westhab drop-in shelter, which he said: “felt like home.” Broadway Manor is not permanent housing, and although program staff were able to help store Mr. Henry’s few belongings, he was still street homeless. Staff grew to know him as a quiet but friendly man who would insist on volunteering nearly every day to help with small chores like sweeping and mopping at the drop-in.
Despite the challenges of gaining his trust, Jenascia never gave up on her client. Over the years, she tried to convince Mr. Henry to move into housing and worked on building a relationship with him. They had a breakthrough when Jenascia was able to enlist the help of his brother to convince Mr. Henry to accept a room at Westhab’s Travers House, a supportive housing residence. Having a dedicated case manager and connection to the services he needed to remain stable finally gave Mr. Henry the confidence he needed to move into his own apartment.
The victory is just as personal as it is professional for Jenascia. “When he agreed to move into Travers House, it was something very beautiful. After the monumental challenge of convincing him and facing his fear of living in a new area and environment, the day he turned the key to his new apartment was the first time I had ever seen Mr. Henry smile!”
Jenascia is passionate about the quality of care she provides in her programs and has used Mr. Henry’s case throughout the years as a learning tool for the social work interns she hosts. “It taught them that you don’t give up on anyone. You meet the client where they are. A lot of folks had really bad experiences, being disrespected, ignored, or having their belongings thrown away, literally the only things they have. Coming to Broadway Manor, Mr. Henry was met with a different kind of assistance and service, and that goes a really long way in building trust over time.”
Broadway Manor Drop-in Center is located in Downtown Yonkers and serves an average of 30 clients each night, including 233 clients overall during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right across the street from the drop-in is Project Connect, a Westhab program that offers street outreach to the homeless population in Yonkers and valuable connections to services and housing. Dedicated Westhab staff like Jenascia are on the frontlines every day, working with the most vulnerable and often difficult-to-house homeless populations. And they are getting results—people housed, and lives changed.
Mr. Henry is pictured here turning the key to his new apartment.