On Thanksgiving 2013, Caseworker Jenny Stefanic with Adult Protective Services was trying to get a San Antonio couple out of the cold.
Eight years ago, the city tore the couple’s house down for code violations. Since then, the 66-year-old man and his 64-year-old wife slept in automobiles on the lot, showered at truck stops and kept their belongings in boxes exposed to the elements, all the while hoping to rebuild. But with no family nearby it was hard.
“They were reluctant to move,” said Delrick Washington, Stefanic’s supervisor. “We spoke to them about building a storage area on their property. The plan was while everybody else is working on something more permanent, let us help you with finding somewhere safe.”
When the city told them they couldn’t stay on the property anymore, Stefanic had to persuade the couple, who had turned away APS in the past, to accept help this time.
“I just explained to them we were concerned about the weather and the elements,” Stefanic said. “It wasn’t safe for them to continue living the way they were.”
Stefanic persuaded them to first go to a hotel and then to an assisted living center. Later Stefanic convinced the couple to rent a place that was within their budget. They even began filling it with furniture and doing well enough for APS to close the case.
“I’m not sure if I have a secret,” says Stefanic about her work. “Ultimately… it was their property and they didn’t want to lose it. They had worked their whole lives for that house.”
The case drew attention in the local news, but to Stepanic it was nothing unusual—just another case where clients needed help getting back on their feet.
“They’re doing great now, and they’re paying all the bills themselves,” says Washington.