Bertha and Marco were living in Puerto Rico when their three-year-old daughter Maya was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type I. Over the next two years, Maya developed diabetes ketoacidosis, a serious complication. Maya’s illness resulted in several hospitalizations in the pediatric intensive care unit as well as emergency room visits. Type I Diabetes is genetic, and two of Bertha’s close relatives had died from the disease.

Maya’s endocrinologist recommended that the DeSilvas move to Boston to get the best care for Maya, now five years old. The DeSilvas moved to Massachusetts in 2013 and had Maya seen immediately at Children’s Hospital.  They applied for emergency shelter but were denied by DHCD because Bertha had quit her job in Puerto Rico. (Marco was between jobs at the time of the move.) According to DHCD, the DeSilvas had caused their own homelessness.

Not knowing where else to turn, the DeSilvas contacted MetroWest Legal Services. Attorney Steve Matthews learned from Maya’s nurse case manager at Children’s Hospital Diabetes Program that according to the diabetes team written assessment, the DeSilvas were dedicated and responsible in insulin management for Maya; Maya was receiving substandard care in Puerto Rico due to supply restrictions and insurance limitations; and the DeSilvas made the correct decision to move to Boston for Maya’s treatment to save her life and health.

Attorney Matthews successfully argued that the hearing officer for DHCD should overturn the denial of shelter, noting that the parents had good cause for leaving employment according to the regulations. In November 2013, DHCD reversed itself and granted the family emergency shelter in Worcester. Maya’s blood sugar is under better control under her new treatment plan. Bertha and Marco are actively seeking work. The family now has the stability to put down roots in Massachusetts and to ensure that Maya’s condition continues to improve.