What does it mean to be financially fit - good credit, a savings plan, a professional fee-free tax preparation agency, an up-to-date home mortgage, housing security? UNHP offered access to a range of financial and housing services to address all these financial fitness needs at our 2018 Open House held on Wednesday, January 17 at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center.
44 Bronx residents attended the Open House and were able to make a tax appointment, enroll in Housing Connect, meet with Ariva’s Ready to Rent Financial Counselors and address rental housing issues with NYC’s Tenant Support Unit. Homeowners had the opportunity to meet with NYC Legal Aid, and seniors and people with disabilities could apply for a NYC Rent Freeze. UNHP’s Northwest Bronx Resource Center, located at Refuge House, a community service center run by Fordham Bedford Community Service, hosted the event.
- Legal Aid Society - Legal assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, having mortgage difficulties or are on the NYC Lien Sale list.
- NYC Tenant Support Unit - At the Northwest Bronx Resource Center twice a month, providing support to tenants facing harassment, eviction and other housing-related issues.
- Ariva Ready to Rent - Free 1-on-1 financial counseling offered to NYC renters who have used the Housing Connect application portal. Ready to Rent counseling can help housing seekers improve their credit and accurately calculate household income to submit an accurate and strong rental housing application.
- UNHP - Assistance with NYC Housing Connect, NYC Rent Freeze (SCRIE/DRIE), and sign-ups for 1:1 Financial coaching, groups workshops, and NYC Free Tax Preparation.
- Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners (NTFP) - Through a partnership with NTFP, the Northwest Bronx Resource Center is an Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) site, where we provide financial counseling services to New York City residents.
The Open House was timed to coincide with the opening of the UNHP 2018 Free Tax Preparation program. Open House attendees were able to make a tax appointment and review documents and issues that may come up in their filing. UNHP partners with Ariva and Fordham Bedford Community Services for the popular Bronx free Tax Preparation program, now in its 11th year. The first day of tax preparation with UNHP is January 31st and the program runs on select Wednesdays and Saturdays through April. Appointments can be booked by calling us at (718) 933-2539. UNHP held its first IRS VITA tax preparers training for student volunteers on Saturday, January 20th and anticipates working with over 80 volunteers to assist at least 1,200 Bronx residents this year.
In 2017, UNHP added affordable housing services to our work at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center. These services; eviction prevention offered by NYC Tenants Support Unit, Housing Connect enrollment and NYC Rent Freeze applications, are among our most popular. The affordability crisis, experienced in all of NYC but especially in the Bronx where wages have not kept up with rising rents, is driving this increase in our housing services.
UNHP surveyed some of the open house participants and the results were overall very positive, with comments complimenting UNHP on the open house and multiple use of services by surveyed attendees. Respondents also expressed frustration about the lack of affordable housing and even though they enrolled in Housing Connect, concerns about the wait time for notification and the lack of rental housing for very low-income Bronx tenants.
Of the 44 attendees, many used multiple services: 6 attendees met with a Ready to Rent counselor, 8 met with the Tenant Support Unit, 2 met with Legal Aid Society, 25 came for general information and intake screening, 24 attendees enrolled in Housing Connect and 3 people came to schedule their free income tax preparation appointments.