Shot, paralyzed grandmother: No place to call home

Woman shot outside funeral repast for stepgrandson, killed in separate shooting

Teresa Robinson
Teresa Robinson. (April 19, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 50-year-old woman who was shot and left paralyzed in Grand Rapids fought to survive. Now she faces a different battle: The fight to find affordable housing that meets her needs as a paraplegic.

Teresa Robinson was shot on Oct. 20 following her step-grandson’s funeral on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. The injuries left her paralyzed.

Six months later, doctors cleared her for release to live on her own, but she remains in a Grand Rapids-area nursing home unable to find affordable, barrier-free housing.

“It will break you down,” Robinson told 24 Hour News 8 in an interview from her nursing home room Wednesday. “Heartbreaking is the word for it, because I didn’t ask to be in this place. I didn’t ask for this to happen to me.”

Robinson says she doesn’t need the level of care she gets at a nursing home where staff make her meals and take care of most of her needs.

“I wasn’t that way before I got shot,” she said. “I don’t want to be that way now.”

It’s a struggle that leaders at Disability Advocates of Kent County say is far from unique. They say only two percent of available rental homes are vacant.

“It’s way beyond sad,” said David Bulkowski, executive director at Disability Advocates of Kent County. “The number one barrier continues to scream loudly, ‘affordable housing'”.

Bulkowski said he believes the problem needs lawmaker intervention.

“I asked legislators at a chamber of commerce event a couple months ago ‘Is anybody talking affordable housing in Lansing?’ and they simply said no,” Bulkowski said.

Robinson said she applied for residency at more than a dozen area barrier-free homes and has been rejected each time.

It’s a battle she never expected to fight.

“It’s not like I was out there doing bad things,” Robinson said. “I was a victim.”

Robinson said she doesn’t know where to turn. She says her doctors at Mary Free Bed tell her that getting out of the nursing home is crucial for her recovery.

Her hobbies at the home include crafts and bingo, but Robinson believes she is capable of so much more. She wants to return to the workforce and learn to drive a modified vehicle.

The bill for Robinson to stay at the nursing home is thousands of dollars each month — paid for by the taxpayer-funded Medicare program.

“That don’t mean I stop living because I’m a paraplegic,” Robinson said. “I miss being able to take care of myself.”

Robinson said hope and her faith keep her going.

“I don’t want to be just living in a bedroom. I want a house,” Robinson said. “I want to be able to have that big dream too.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Robinson.