Protecting Families from Eviction
What happens to thousands of New Yorkers when they lose their jobs and can’t afford to pay their mortgages? When threatened with homelessness and life in a shelter? If they are lucky, the Bridge Fund of New York helps them stay in their apartments or houses, protecting them from impending eviction or foreclosure.
Created in the mid-1990s, the Bridge Fund runs one of the City’s few privately funded housing loan programs for working poor families; providing loans, grants, and counseling to families who face losing their homes.
To help the Bridge Fund meet a spike in demand for their help during the recession, the Trust made grants totaling $2,250,000 to assist in their everyday operations. With that it was able to give 1,600 families, emergency loans averaging $1,750 each, to prevent them from getting evicted. It referred 12,300 families, ineligible for loans and other aid, to community agencies that could better assist them.
With all of the good work being done by the Bridge Fund, the Trust has awarded them a 2011 grant of $910,000.
The Bridge Fund is the epitome of a “grant at work.”
Senior Program Officer at The Trust, Pat White says, “Giving a family $1,750 to cover their rent or mortgage and keep them in their home, is in everybody’s best interest—taxpayers, neighborhoods, and the City. You do the math, prevention or intervention after a family has lost everything.”
“After [my husband] died I sent the landlord a letter asking him if I could pay
the co-op charges in two parts. He refused and also told me there was an
amount in arrears that I did not know about.” - Kathleen W., a Bridge Fund client.
Case Study: When the Death of a Loved One Changes Everything
Kathleen W. of Brooklyn, a senior on disability, had lived securely in her co-op apartment for 42 years until the death of her husband changed everything.
“He passed away in August of 2009,” she says. “The arrangement we had was that he paid the monthly maintenance charges on our co-op apartment and I paid the other bills out of disability and pension. We already were in financial trouble because when I was hospitalized for several months, some bills were not paid.
“After he died I sent the landlord a letter asking him if I could pay the co-op charges in two parts. He refused and also told me there was an amount in arrears that I did not know about.” Kathleen was in a desperate situation.
“I got an eviction notice in November and went to the Department of Social Services for their One Shot Deal, but was denied,” she said. “But I did get a referral from another agency to the Bridge Fund.”
Kathleen worked with The Bridge Fund’s Brooklyn program director to secure the services of a Legal Aid attorney who negotiated in Housing Court the rental arrears owed and helped Kathleen get a rent abatement.
The Bridge Fund then put together a financial package to take care of the remaining arrears. Funding came from an anonymous donor, Catholic Charities, The Bridge Fund, and from Kathleen herself.
The Bridge Fund also set up an online bill pay for Kathleen’s co-op charges, which she can now afford to pay, along with her living expenses, on her income. She has been current with her monthly payments since January of 2010.
Kathleen said “My caseworker was very kind to me and I appreciate everything she has done. From here on I can manage and know that everything is now under control.”