October 31, 2017
On Saturday, October 28, four nonprofit experts, three NYC agencies, four local banks and 127 Bronxites came together to make the UNHP Bronxtober Resource Fest a successful community affordable housing and financial empowerment day. Attendees had the opportunity to speak to legal representatives, bankers, counselors, advisers and program associates. On-site NYC Housing Connect, NYC Rent Freeze, financial coaching and credit reviews were popular and available throughout the day-long event.
Bronxtober Fest On-site Services, Banks, City Agencies and Nonprofit Service Providers:
UNHP Northwest Bronx Resource Center - Event Sponsor
20 Credit pulls and brief review
30 attendees enrolled in NYC Housing Connect and combined selected 75 open affordable housing lotteries
An additional 20 attendees reviewed their existing Housing Connect profiles and/or signed up for a follow-up appointment
UNHP made Financial Counseling, Housing Connect, NYC Rent Freeze, MTA Reduced-Fare MetroCard and other follow-up appointments on-site
UNHP staff, Fordham University IPED interns, and volunteer Peer Ambassadors were at Bronxtober Resource Fest to check people in, pull credit reports, create emails, provide resources, screen interested attendees for services and enroll people in NYC Housing Connect. Thank you to our dedicated team and to Fordham Bedford for use of Concourse House!
NYC Tenant Support Unit (TSU)
The NYC Tenant Support Unit offers a range of eviction prevention services out of the UNHP Resource Center twice a month. They were at the Fair providing information and advice about rent subsidies, housing court, landlord harassment and tenants rights. About 40 tenants spoke with the NYC Tenant Support specialist and
made appointments for follow-up assistance.
Eviction Prevention Assistance for NYC Tenants
Attendees who stopped by the NYC Tenant Support Unit’s table received information about determining eligibility for rent subsidies and one shot deals, addressing landlord harassment, lack of repairs, eviction issues and legal referrals. NYC TSU spoke with many attendees and scheduled 40 individuals for follow-up eviction prevention services.
NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) for Housing Connect
New construction affordable housing projects financed or funded with NYC funds are rented up through an on-line lottery system known as
Housing Connect. In April, the UNHP Northwest Bronx Resource Center became a housing ambassador and has been assisting Bronx residents enroll in Housing Connect. HPD attended the Fair and was able to provide general application and project availability information to attendees.
NYC HPD was on site giving general application and availability information about the NYC affordable housing lottery. UNHP staff and volunteer peer ambassadors were able to enroll interested applicants in
NYC Housing Connect at our enrollment station.
NYC Department of Finance
NYC Department of Finance, Ingrid Marin, screened 7 seniors for
NYC’s Rent Freeze program at UNHP’s Bronxtober Fest. Seniors and people with disabilities can apply to freeze their rent, the City pays the future rent increases and the low-income tenants gets to remain in their apartments.
The Department of Finance assisted 7 seniors and people with disabilities with enrollment in The
NYC Rent Freeze Program. Information on STAR and SCHE real estate exemption programs for NYC homeowners was also available.
People arrived bright and early for the Bronxtober Resource Fest and waited patiently for the doors to open.The majority of the attendees were interested in finding an affordable apartment and working on credit improvement issues. A team of four trained Housing Connect UNHP staff and interns worked on 30 new enrollments throughout the day, and scheduled follow-up appointments for those that could not be seen at the Resource Fair.
Ariva – Intensive 2-hour Credit Workshop, Credit Reports & 30 Minute Coaching Sessions.
Ariva, UNHP’s VITA tax partner and a nonprofit financial empowerment leader, was on hand to provide a 2-hour credit workshop to 18 participants. 16 other attendees also had the opportunity to meet with a Ready to Rent Credit Counselor (if already enrolled in NYC Housing Connect) or meet with a certified Financial Coach to obtain their credit report and an analysis.
Many attendees who attended the Bronxtober Resource Fest were interested in improving their credit. Ariva offered a two-hour workshop to 18 people with lunch and also provided the opportunity for 30 minute financial coaching sessions. People who enrolled with UNHP for Housing Connect could meet with Ariva’s Ready to Rent financial counselor to review their credit and ensure that they were financially prepared to move. 34 people attended the credit workshop and/or met individually with the counselor.
NWBCCC: Weatherization Program – NYS Energy and Cost Saving Programs for Homeowners
Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) Weatherization program was on-site to determine eligibility for home energy inspections and low-cost energy improvements. They gave helpful energy saving tips and giveaways for over 30 homeowners and renters.
Legal Aid Society - Legal advice services for Homeowners, Renters, and Immigrants.
Legal specialists spoke to attendees about homeowner mortgages, lien issues & STAR exemption enrollment. Appointments were available to meet with a housing attorney for eviction & court proceedings, as well as information & legal advice on immigration issues.
There were many opportunities for Bronx homeowners at the Bronxtober Resource Fest. The NWBCCC Weatherization Program screened homeowners for energy surveys and low-cost NYS-supported weatherization renovations. They demonstrated the savings that using LED light bulbs could make in a home and had energy-saving light bulbs and home kits to give away. Legal Aid offers assistance to Bronx homeowners at the NWBRC once a month and helped homeowners at the fair deal with mortgage and lien debts issues. Four local banks were also on hand to share product information with renters, homeowners and interested home-buyers.
Four local Bronx banks discussed their low-cost banking products, first-time homebuyer incentive programs, mortgage pre-qualifications and financial services.
Representatives from Citi, M&T Bank, Santander Bank and Ridgewood Savings Bank were ready to provide mortgage and banking product information to attendees. Santander Bank and M&T Bank both opened new branches in the Bronx in 2017. UNHP worked with Ridgewood Savings, Citi, M&T Bank and other Bronx banks to provide
pop-up assistance days offering our services to bank customers in 2017.
Thirty-one Bronxtober Resource Fest attendees participated in an exit survey and shared their feedback. 88% of those who responded to the survey felt they received the services that they needed. 18 people came to the fair seeking affordable housing, and 14 of these 18 people enrolled in Housing Connect. Bronxtober Fair attendees were interested in addressing multiple issues during the day, and as such the percentages total more than 100%. 58% of respondents came to Bronxtober Fest for help finding a new apartment, 35% to improve their credit and 23% for legal advice. 26% of respondents were interested in tenant support and first-time home-buyer assistance.
The 31 surveyed attendees used
multiple services at the Fair. Housing Connect enrollment (45%), Credit workshop attendance and credit counseling (48%) were the most utilized services. 96% of those surveyed scheduled at least one follow up appointment at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center for NYC Housing Connect, Rent Freeze enrollment, financial coaching, an upcoming 10 hour Getting Ahead Spanish language workshop and legal help for homeowners. 88% of respondents felt that they received the help that they came for. The remaining 12% were unable to enroll in Housing Connect during the Fair or were hoping to get a housing application. UNHP staff and trained volunteers were unable to meet the demand for Housing Connect enrollment at the fair, but follow-up appointments were made.
Resources, raffles and snacks added a festive fall air to the UNHP Bronxtober Fest.
Survey respondents made suggestions for improvement; “
offer more services for disabled people + family members,” “ Have more staff for Housing Connect and help for tenants in 1-4 family homes.”
UNHP is pleased with the dedication of our staff, the commitment of our partners and the turn-out for the Bronxtober Resource Fest. While many people were happy to enroll in Housing Connect and get professional free services in one location – we don’t want to leave you with the impression that the problems in the Bronx associated with low wages and rising rents and the lack of decent affordable housing can be solved by the services provided at a Resource Fair, no matter how well it is organized. Not everyone qualifies for or can be helped by the programs and services that UNHP and our partners offer; affordable housing lottery, NYC Rent Freeze, foreclosure and eviction prevention. In addition to the direct services UNHP offers out of the Northwest Bronx Resource Center, we also work to create and preserve affordable housing and address the emerging issues that impact affordability. UNHP works to preserve the rent-stabilized multifamily housing where most Bronxites live - we also work to ensure that it is well-maintained. We invite you to visit our
website, follow us on facebook and twitter and join our mail list to learn more about our work.
“Fue bueno, obtuve información importante para mi, muy complacido con todo.”
“Excellent Resource Fair for Neighborhood! We need ALL services provided + THANK YOU FOR UNHP staff for caring!”