On April 22, a group of family daycare providers graduated from a 40-hour class designed to help grow their home-based Bronx businesses. Katiuska Morel, a course graduate, said that after many years as a daycare provider, she had found her inspiration again during the 10 weeks she spent with her peers and instructor. There has been a lot of hard work and a lot of that kind of inspiration so far in 2015 and no indication that the summer is going to slow us down. UNHPâ€™s recent work towards our mission to create and preserve affordable housing and bring needed resources to the northwest Bronx has been varied and intense - a successful tax program, outreach to multifamily building owners to preserve affordable housing, a fruitful collaboration built upon the hard work of northwest Bronx daycare providers, and the possibility of long-awaited changes to water pricing policy.
Identifying Distressed Buildings
The UNHP Multifamily Assistance Center continues to work to identify and address distressed multifamily buildings in New York City through the BIP database and our collaborative work with banks, regulators, public agencies, foundations and community groups. Our February 11th Financial Roundtable Meeting, hosted by Enterprise NYC, was attended by representatives from twenty-five financial institutions, and included updated market information, Bronx demographic data and presentations from HPD Deputy Commissioner Vito Mustaciolo, Don Schacknai, HPDâ€™s First Deputy Commissioner, Kim Darga, Assistant Commissioner for Preservation Programs, and Alexandria Warren, Director of Special Projects. HPD presented information on programs for addressing distressed multifamily properties, the role of code enforcement, ways to address and clear violations and the variety of city programs available to address distressed multifamily buildings.
Don Schacknai, HPDâ€™s First Deputy Commissioner, addresses representatives from 25 financial institutions at UNHP's Multifamily Financial Roundtable meeting held at Enterprise.
Help for Building Owners
UNHP joined Enterprise, Community Preservation Corporation and HPD in offering two Helpdesk sessions at Hostos Community College in the Bronx for apartment building owners with small portfolios. About 80 owners attended the sessions and were able to get one-on-one assistance and information about low-cost rehabilitation programs, building financing and weatherization grants. UNHP hopes to work with its partners to continue to work with owners of distressed properties in the Bronx.
Watch this video to learn more about these Helpdesk sessions!
A New Proposal
UNHP issued a research report and new proposal addressing the negative impact of high water and sewer charges in affordable housing. UNHP, a long-time advocate for water and sewer rate reform, proposed a $688 per apartment per year Affordable Housing cap. The report, Affordable Water for Affordable Housing, released at the April 29th Bronx Water Board hearing, illustrates the inequities in the water rate system for affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods. A group of affordable housing managers and owners participated in the research and provided testimony at the Water Board hearing supporting the cap. UNHP is hopeful that an affordable housing cap can be implemented and will continue to work with HPD, DEP, affordable housing building owners and managers to fight for the cap in the near future and a more equitable water and sewer rate determination system in the long run.
Free Financial Services and Tax Preparation
UNHPâ€™s 2015 Free Bronx Tax Preparation Program successfully assisted close to 1,500 Bronx residents with free tax filing and provided additional on-site financial resources as well; 17 tax filers opened low-cost bank accounts, over 100 obtained their credit report information, many took advantage of Seedcoâ€™s benefits screening and healthcare enrollment during the tax day and others signed up for financial coaching or a group financial education workshops. Working with Ariva and Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS) as well as the over 80 student volunteers from Manhattan College, Fordham University and Lehman College, UNHP successfully provided professional tax preparation and financial education resources to the northwest Bronx.
The above map shows the location of those tax filers who made an appointment for our services at Refuge House during our 16 tax days at this FBCS community site complete with computer lab. Other tax filers were able to work directly with a service provider such as POTS or Lift to make appointments and over 150 lucky Bronx senior citizens were able to file their taxes in the community rooms of their affordable housing complexes at Serviam Gardens, Rose Hill Apartments, Edison Arms and Msgr. Fiorentino Apartments. UNHP also assisted West Farms Social Services and Ariva provide a tax day for people who live in West Farms Square, a 526 unit affordable housing complex developed by UNHP and Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation. Check out our blog for photos and more information about our tax volunteers and 2015 program.
Business Growth Program for Home-based Daycare Providers
In addition to bringing a range of financial resources to the Northwest Bronx in 2015, UNHP was able to coordinate a new intensive 40-hour small business growth program known as the Northwest Bronx Childcare Entrepreneurship Program with our community partner, Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS). FBCS provides a range of community services for immigrants, young people and neighborhood residents and works to support about 75 home-based childcare businesses through an Early Learn Network and nutritional support program. FBCS has successfully encouraged the growth, quality and prosperity of home-based daycare in the northwest Bronx. Thanks to the support of Citi, twenty-five FBCS daycare providers participated in the inaugural class of the Northwest Bronx Childcare Entrepreneurship Program offered by NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) in partnership with Citi, the University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP) and Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS). In addition to the 10 week business class, providers will receive small group business coaching and have had the opportunity to attend two bilingual legal clinics and obtain free legal services organized by Start Small Think Big. 56 daycare providers participated in the employment law workshop presented by Sheppard and Mullin or the incorporation workshop, presented by Debevoise and Plimpton. About 25 workshop attendees signed up for free one-on-one legal services.
John Garcia, Executive Director of FBCS, selected graduate speakers, and class instructor Ada Uribe congratulate the 25 graduates of the Northwest Bronx Childcare Entrepreneurship Program.
Thank you for your interest, support and participation in our work. Our plans for the summer include more meetings with building owners, an immigration resource fair, workshops in local NYCHA buildings and a forum on water and sewer. Stay tuned!
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