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Homeless mother fights for services, safety for son in wheelchair

Posted: 8:28 PM, Dec 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-12-14 20:28:26-05

NEW YORK — Brenda Melendez is a single mom and came to New York from Puerto Rico to create a better life for her son.

But the mother and her 7-year-old son Jamil Cruz Melendez don't know where they'll live.

"Everyday I worry, " said Melendez, holding her son.

Currently homeless, she has to take care of her son, who has a brain injury that makes him nonverbal and using a wheelchair.

Melendez is now fighting the city to help her son get the medical attention he needs.

"We live in the greatest city in the world and it's disgusting that our city is not taking care of our most vulnerable citizens," says Patrick Donohue the founder of the International Academy of Hope.

Melendez says she has already been bounced to four different shelters in just past few weeks, from the Bronx to Brooklyn. The moves often happen in the middle of the night.

The family was transferred Tuesday night where Jamil was moved to a room with a bunkbed.

Donohue says it's outrageous but all too common.

Donohue is the founder of the International Academy of Hope, a special school in Harlem that helps children like Jamil with brain injuries excel.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services tells PIX11, "The Department of Homeless Services has taken immediate action to address new needs as these are provided to us. In many cases, providing help to remain with family in the community is a better result than the default of shelter. We are working across agencies and investigating every option to help meet the housing needs of this family."