NYC Property Owners Initiate Civic Partnership with Nonprofits to Help City’s Low-Income Tenants Impacted by COVID to Stay in their Homes
Photo credit: Daryan Shamkhali/Unsplash
New York property owners contribute $4 million to a network of nonprofit partners who will work independently to help tenants across city access resources and connect to financial, workforce, and other critical services
Over 40 New York property owners also sign pledge to protect vulnerable tenants impacted by COVID
NEW YORK, NY – (May 14, 2020) – A coalition of over 40 leading owners of market-rate and affordable apartment buildings, nonprofits, and service providers have come together to launch ‘Project Parachute’ –with an initial $4 million dollar investment from property owners—to help keep vulnerable New Yorkers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in their homes.
The philanthropic fund will be independently coordinated and managed by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit organization focused on affordable housing, which will design the program in collaboration with tenants and community-based organizations, to ensure the program meets the needs of hardest hit New Yorkers who are unserved or underserved by existing resources. Enterprise Community Partners will directly grant philanthropic dollars to experienced human services nonprofits across the city, enabling them to reach more low-income New Yorkers impacted by Covid-19. The Project aims specifically to reach those who have limited or no access to government resources, including undocumented immigrants and shadow economy workers. The Project also seeks to support those New York City communities hit disproportionately hard by the Covid pandemic, including Black and Latino communities.
“We have one common purpose in this moment: keeping New Yorkers in their homes,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader of Enterprise Community Partners. “Project Parachute is one of many steps needed towards providing vital resources to tenants, especially the unserved and underserved. Partnership between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors is critical, and we are thankful for the commitment of the nonprofits and property owners taking part in this important initiative. And as we now face one of the biggest economic, health, and housing crises in our lifetime, we commit to advocating for additional solutions, including federal funding for comprehensive rental assistance that will help ensure ongoing housing stability for both tenants and property owners.”
Specifically, impacted tenants will be able to access assistance by working with nonprofit Homebase providers who can connect them to resources. These providers include BronxWorks, CAMBA, Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, Catholic Charities Community Services, HELP Social Service Corporation, RiseBoro Community Partnership (RiseBoro), and Services for the UnderServed (S:US). Homebase is a homelessness prevention network with 26 locations across the five boroughs of New York City. The nonprofit Homebase providers will work with tenants individually with the goal of avoiding eviction once the eviction moratorium ends and increasing housing stability, including benefit advocacy, financial counseling, tenant’s right education and other services to increase housing stability. The philanthropically-funded program will be administered entirely autonomously by nonprofit partners and will be blind to which buildings the tenants live.
“Services for the UnderServed has long believed that the best way to prevent homelessness is to reduce evictions,” said Donna Colonna at Services for the UnderServed. “As the Homebase provider for Manhattan, we know that Homebase is a proven, cost-effective model to help tenants keep a roof over their head and get back on their feet. The extra funding pledged and the principles committed to will assist S:US in carrying out our mission at this crucial time. We applaud all the participants for taking this proactive step to ameliorate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.”
“This is a watershed moment for NYC renters and landlords,” said Daniel Farrell of HELP USA. “Unless we come together with solution focused ideas, the risk of housing stability for hundreds of thousands of renters, which is bad for tenants and landlords, is real. The evidence based services Homebase has been providing New Yorkers for over 16 years makes it perfectly suited for this Project Parachute joint venture.”
“In this time of crisis, collaboration and out of the box thinking is needed to keep New Yorkers housed,” said Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership. ”Project Parachute presents a unique opportunity to help poor renters avoid homelessness during the pandemic, especially those being left behind by federal stimulus such as undocumented workers. RiseBoro Community Partnership will work with Enterprise and other non-profits in the city to design services that help tenants stay in their communities.”
“Catholic Charities has already seen individuals who have lost their jobs struggle to pay rent, and families frightened of shortly losing their apartments,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “An initiative to provide financial assistance to individuals and families not eligible for federal stimulus and other assistance programs is a positive short-term step to help vulnerable families deal with the impact of this pandemic. There is also the pressing need for a longer term solution to assist New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19 to keep their housing.”
“As Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens works to provide thousands of meals to the hungry each week, we know first-hand the importance of projects like Project Parachute and the resources it will make available for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities impacted by the virus,” said Rev. Msgr. Alfred LoPinto, President and CEO of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “We applaud the Project Parachute coalition for their initiative to protect New Yorkers facing homelessness in the midst of this crisis. In these difficult times, philanthropists must focus on the most vulnerable populations—such as those who do not qualify for federal and state funded stimulus benefits, immigrants, seniors and those who are chronically ill. Project Parachute is a giant leap forward for those facing homelessness.”
“This proactive and generous partnership between property owners and nonprofits to help those less fortunate renews our faith in the strength, caring and commitment New Yorkers have for each other,” said Joanne Oplustil, President/CEO, CAMBA/CAMBA Housing Ventures. “We are indeed all in this together. Other than health concerns, housing stability is likely the single largest stressor for individuals and families who have been hit hardest by Covid-19. Project Parachute’s investment in these families will pay positive dividends in their lives for years to come.“
The magnitude of challenges facing renters and property owners today requires multiple civic solutions. The public, private and nonprofit sectors must work together to prevent an increase in homelessness, already at crisis levels, in New York City and protect tenants from eviction while also supporting housing providers to maintain their properties. The members of Project Parachute and its nonprofit partners commit to advocating for desperately needed government funds that would support long-term rent subsidies to help tenants and property owners, including rental assistance. Enterprise Community Partners along with the other nonprofit partners and private sector businesses will also work towards long-term systemic improvements.
PROJECT PARACHUTE PROPERTY OWNER PLEDGE
In addition to making a philanthropic donation to support the rapid scaling-up of community-based rental assistance counseling, each property owner-member of Project Parachute has pledged to:
- Work with tenants impacted as a result of COVID on an individual basis to establish payment plans and waive fees with an emphasis on housing stability and keeping tenants in place in their homes;
- Proactively communicate with and connect tenants to community-based rental assistance and counseling services.
PROJECT PARACHUTE FUNDERS AND SUPPORTERS
Philanthropic funders, nonprofit and industry supporters of Project Parachute include:
More information about Project Parachute can be found at www.projectparachute.nyc.
“Tough times call for extraordinary cooperation and collaboration,” said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground. “Project Parachute shows the good that can be done when private industry, government, and nonprofits come together. In the face of extreme financial hardship, we need to scale up solutions that work, and this partnership is a step in the right direction to help keep New Yorkers in their homes.”
“In a time of crisis when some are advocating the tired, old rhetoric of landlord versus tenant, it is heartening to see this broad coalition of housing providers working together to offer real assistance and hope to our city’s most vulnerable tenants,” said Rafael E. Cestero, President & CEO of The Community Preservation Corporation. “This assistance will help keep families in their homes and provide for the support and other services that can bring stability and peace of mind during these unprecedented times.”
“As a tenant advocate as well as a landlord, we at IMPACCT Brooklyn are advocating for support that will benefit residents,” said Bernell K. Grier, CEO at IMPACCT. “Many New Yorkers have already reached out to us seeking technical assistance and inquiring about some form of rent relief as they suffered job loss as a result of the COVID 19 Pandemic. Project Parachute is one answer that will provide much needed guidance and resources for these households.”
“As we continue to advocate for comprehensive federal rent relief, NYSAFAH members are working tirelessly with public and private partners on additional steps to protect residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Jolie Milstein, president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “Project Parachute is an incredible team effort that will help keep New Yorkers in their homes and deliver much-needed resources to non-profits and service providers that are so crucial to sustaining our communities at this challenging time.”
“The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on New York. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the real estate industry is focused on helping those in need,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “Project Parachute will provide organizations with more resources to provide more vulnerable tenants with rental assistance counseling to help ensure more New Yorkers can safely stay in their home. This is a step in the right direction and REBNY is proud to work with this coalition to help vulnerable New Yorkers.”
“In New York, we look after one another – it’s what New Yorkers do. So, when it comes to supporting our neighbors who need it most, everyone is doing their part to help each other through this crisis,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The real estate community is stepping up to keep the most vulnerable New Yorkers safe and secure in their homes, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York stands ready to support these efforts in any way that we can.”
“During this uncertain time, it is important for all sectors to work together to promote not only relief but also recovery for the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. “With unemployment claims up 6,900% among Asian Americans, by far the largest percentage increase for any racial group in New York, CPC looks forward to having Project Parachute provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services for our community members.”
“There is nothing more destabilizing than the loss of a home–which is why we all must come together now to support New Yorkers to remain in place,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ. “It’s heartening to see advocacy organizations, nonprofit service providers and private companies rally together to protect New York in this fragile moment for us all. Together, we will get through this.”
“On behalf of the BTEA, I commend Enterprise Community Partners and property owners for pulling together this coalition and for recognizing the housing needs of so many New Yorkers. Project Parachute is a prime example of how New York City comes together to support our neighbors in need during a time of crisis,” said Lou Coletti, President and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association.
“We join Enterprise and these property owners in calling for government funding to assist at risk renters and applaud their investment in services to help reduce the impact of this pandemic on tenants most at risk,” said Mike Prohaska, Business Manager at Local 79.
“The Family Homelessness Coalition – comprised of 30 leading advocacy organizations and direct service providers including CAMBA, RiseBoro and Barrier Free Living – applauds this effort to ensure families in the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis have access to critical services to avoid eviction and remain stably housed. Now, more than ever, families need to be able to access upstream prevention services in order to remain safely in their homes. Expanding access to Homebase services for at-risk families is vital to stemming the tides of homelessness before they start and preventing a surge in family homelessness in the aftermath of the pandemic. We look forward to working alongside members of the Project Parachute coalition in the years to come to ensure every New York family has a safe place to call home,” said Carol Corden, Executive Director of New Destiny Housing, a supportive housing provider for domestic violence survivors and Co-convener of Family Homelessness Coalition.
“In the midst of sky-rocketing unemployment, increased health risks and profound uncertainty, no family should have to worry about losing their home. Project Parachute will go a long way to help families facing eviction remain in their community and circumvent life-altering trauma. Looking ahead, it’s imperative we continue to invest in rental subsidies, prevention services and rapid rehousing options for vulnerable families as our city recovers from this unprecedented moment. We standby ready to work alongside our partners to make those investments a reality,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children, Co-convener of Family Homelessness Coalition.
About Project Parachute
Parachute is a coalition of New York City property owners who have pledged to help the most vulnerable renters remain in their homes during and in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis, and provide a vehicle for the real estate industry to contribute toward the economic viability of the city and its residents. Participating property owners are philanthropically supporting Enterprise Community Partners and nonprofit Homebase providers who work with tenant counseling services and provide rent payment support. More information at www.projectparachute.nyc.
About Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity. We bring together the nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investments to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Over more than 35 years, Enterprise has created nearly 585,000 homes, invested $43.6 billion and touched millions of lives. Join us at www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.
Read the original press release.
For information on how S:US is helping thousands of New Yorkers during the pandemic, please visit https://sus.org/sus-helps-thousands-of-new-yorkers-during-covid-19-crisis/.
Click here for information on S:US supported and low-income housing.