SAVED! The Senior Homelessness Prevention Project!

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July 20, 2017 - the New York City Council voted to save the BronxWorks Senior Homelessness Prevention Project (SHPP), a unique and much-needed eviction prevention program based in the Bronx County Housing Court, with a $250,000 investment. The program has helped prevent over 400 seniors, many of whom are immigrants with limited English proficiency, from becoming homeless. Without SHPP, low-income Bronx seniors are at greater risk of eviction, but the program was at risk of shutting down this summer without continued funding. 

“We are extremely grateful to City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, the Bronx Delegation and entire City Council for recognizing the needs of seniors in housing court and saving the Senior Homelessness Prevention Project,” said Eileen Torres, Executive Director of BronxWorks. “As our city’s senior population continues to rise, the number of tenants in need of this support will only continue to increase.”

Home to the highest eviction rate in the city, the Bronx County Housing Court sees nearly 2,000 tenants a day. Senior homelessness is becoming a crisis, with rates predicted to increase 30% by 2020 and double by 2050, according to the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness.

Former Bronx Housing Court Supervising Judge Jaya Madhavan observed the challenges seniors were facing, and in 2014 he worked with BronxWorks to establish SHPP. Now, when seniors appear in housing court, oftentimes overwhelmed and scared, a judge can refer them to SHPP for counseling and support.

The success of the BronxWorks program lies in the holistic approach caseworkers employ in order to help seniors avoid eviction in the short-term and stay in their apartments long term. Not only do they assist seniors in navigating Housing Court and help them avoid an immediate eviction by, for example, securing funds to pay back rent, caseworkers also identify eligibility for benefits or subsidies, provide budget counseling to ensure future ability to pay, and communicate with landlords and/or relatives to address other barriers to continued independent living.

SHPP is the only program in the city that specifically targets seniors with this comprehensive approach. In the past two years, it has prevented more than 400 seniors from becoming homeless. Thanks to the City Council, this important work will continue.

"The BronxWorks Senior Homelessness Prevention Project is essential. It's important to the court that we have somewhere to refer our seniors who need help. If we didn’t have BronxWorks SHPP, we don’t know what would happen to our senior litigants." — Judge Miriam Breier, Supervising Judge at Bronx Housing Court.

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