Posts Tagged ‘affordable housing’

Mayor de Blasio meets with Cardinal Dolan; Discusses Catholic Charities and work done on behalf of those in need

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Mayor Bill de Blasio met yesterday for the first time since the mayor took office to discuss how they might collaborate to foster the common good – particularly helping New Yorkers most in need.

They hope to convince Pope Francis – who the mayor called “the most powerful voice on earth on how to address inequality” — to visit the city to lend his voice to the urgent task of building a more compassionate and just New York.

“We talked a lot about Catholic Charities and the work it does on behalf of children, on behalf of people in need,” Mayor de Blasio said.

“We talked about the need to help prisoners returning to society, a whole host of areas (including affordable housing) where we have common ground and where we can work together.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, who attended the post- meeting press briefing and is serving on the mayor’s transition team, said  “I am not surprised, but still delighted, that the Mayor recognizes the tremendous good being done by our federation of Catholic Charities agencies in touching and responding to almost every human need… We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration and are already convening agencies experienced in these areas to discuss how we might best work with the new administration to expand these services and meet unmet needs.” Read Msgr. Sullivan’s full statement here.

Cardinal Dolan regularly visits Catholic Charities agencies and meets both those being served and the dedicated staff and volunteers.  Cardinal Dolan was upbeat and expressed his strong desire to work with Mayor de Blasio for the sake of the good of New York, and especially those most in need.

You Come Into This World with Nothing and You Leave with Nothing

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Wincing as he walks, Donald Marcus, 70, surveys what is left of the eight bungalows he once rented out in Midland Beach, Staten Island, that provided affordable housing for friends and strangers.

“People live paycheck to paycheck,” he says, explaining why he rented out the one-bedroom homes just blocks from the beach for as little as $400 per month.

“I believe you come in this world with nothing and you leave with nothing.”

This is proving true for him.  Three of his bungalows destroyed by Superstorm Sandy have already been demolished by the city, including one where his tenant Jack Paterno, 65, drowned in the storm.

Two more, including the one he rented out to an elderly woman who shared her home with her mentally challenged brother so he would not have to live in an institution,  have been gutted right down to the salt-water soaked beams.

The final three he uses to demonstrate degrees of rebirth thanks to donations of time, materials and services he received by networking with everyone he meets, from the man he met that morning in line at McDonalds to the Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager, MaryEllen Ferrer, who coordinates disaster recovery services for him.

Still, Mr. Marcus recognizes that his days of providing housing to the down and out are gone forever.  His former printing business up the street on Midland Ave that for 38 years printed everything from Pops Baseball cards to politicians’ bulletins and CYO flyers washed away in the storm as well.

“Not one dry sheet of paper was left,” he says.

Seventy years old, with no flood insurance and ineligible for FEMA loans to restore the bungalos because FEMA helps with primary residences, Mr. Marcus asks rhetorically “what am I going to do?  Start over?”

Catholic Charities cannot replace his former life, his Disaster Case Manager Valeriya Osipova says.  But it can help him get back on his feet, she adds.

As a disaster case manager, Ms. Osipova serves as advocate and expediter for Mr. Marcus and others whose lives have been upended by Sandy.  She created an individualized disaster recovery plan to advocate for access to needed services, coordinate benefits, and make referrals that range from obtaining sheetrock for Mr. Marcus’ houses to linking him to connecting him to volunteers to help repair his home.

Grateful for the assistance, Mr. Marcus tries to remain upbeat.  After all, Superstorm Sandy left his own home on Augusta Avenue in Staten Island undamaged, he said.  And his wife of 45 years who fell, broke her femur bone and was put on life support two months after the storm, is now recovering at home.

Yet the reality, he says, cannot be escaped.

“This is going to happen again,” Mr. Marcus says.  “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.  But again.”

Another Family Faces Homelessness. This One Finds Help and Hope.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Julissa Matias

By Alice Kenny

As housing prices continue rising in New York City while salaries at the low end of the pay scale stagnate, homelessness among working families has hit an all-time high. Augustina and her three toddlers, ages two, three and six, were about to join these homeless ranks.

The young mother’s $50-per-day income from her work as a home health aide had been stretched too thin for too long. Even with food stamps, she could not earn enough to pay for child care, clothing, and her Harlem apartment’s $1100 monthly rent. She owed nearly $12,000 to her landlord.

Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to statistics compiled by the Coalition for the Homeless. January 2013 set an all-time record with 50,100 homeless people. Twelve thousand homeless families including 21,000 homeless children who sleep each night in the New York City municipal shelter system comprise nearly three-quarters of the homeless shelter population. The overwhelming majority of these families holds jobs, such as Augustina, and fall behind in their rent after experiencing sudden medical costs, a death in the family, or loss of a job.

When Augustina first turned for help to the Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program she was terrified, she said. She had already been referred from one social service program. It seemed that time had run out.

Fortunately, she met Julissa Matias, site supervisor of the Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program at Waverly Job Center.

“It’s very rare that a family comes in that we cannot assist either by getting them FEPs (New York City’s Family Eviction Prevention Supplement) to help cover ongoing rent, obtain funding to cover rental arrears, or help find an apartment they can afford,” Ms. Matias said.

“But paying these families’ arrears is not enough,” she added. “They must be helped on to a sound footing where they can independently meet their future expenses.”

She was determined, she said, to provide this footing for Augustina and her children.

Augustina told Ms. Matias that she had been through hard times throughout her life. She no longer held out hope that anyone would help her.

So when Augustina learned that Catholic Charities would stand by her, she began to sob, Ms. Matias said. Through Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program, Ms Matias arranged for Augustina to receive a $2500 grant from a private organization. She helped her successfully apply for $7000 in FEPS funding. She bolstered Augustina’s confidence to ask her extended family for a $4000 loan. And she is using $1100 in Catholic Charities funds to pay back the remaining rental deficit.

Now, thanks to this help, Augustina and her children no longer wake up at night worried they might wind up on the street. They live in an apartment they know is their home.

“I have dealt with a lot of people in human service departments and Ms. Matias is the most professional, helpful, compassionate and kind person I’ve ever encountered,” Augustina said. “She gave me hope when so many gave me despair.”

At Catholic Charities in any given year:

6,981 families are saved from homelessness
1,487 people are placed in temporary or transitional apartments
6,109  families find affordable housing.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency that offers eviction prevention services.
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900 for assistance finding the services you need.

Dennis Scimone Honored for Services Provided on Behalf of Catholic Charities to the Mentally Ill

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Dennis Scimone, honoree, with Beacon of Hope House Director Denise Bauer

By  Alice Kenny

Dennis J. Scimone, director of residential services for Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope House, was honored by the Staten Island Behavioral Network, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to providing case management services and affordable housing to the mentally ill, at their tenth anniversary celebration held on January 23, 2013 at the Staten Island Hilton.

A native of New York City, Dennis joined Beacon of Hope House, a Catholic Charities organization that operates residences and a club house program for the mentally ill, in 1989.  He recently completed his thirty-eighth year of service in the mental health field.

“We all must learn to understand, accept, respect and appreciate the differences of all members of society,” he said, “regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, ability or disability.”

At Catholic Charities, Dennis was initially appointed to manage Beacon of Hope House residential services for the mentally ill in Staten Island including community residences and scattered-site apartment programs.  He was appointed as the agency’s Regional Director for Staten Island- Brooklyn Services in 1995.  He has served as the Director of Residential services since 2002, providing oversight for multiple levels of housing programs in Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

He has a Master of Social Work Degree from Hunter College and a Masters Degree in public Administration from Long Island University.  In the early stages of his career, he worked with youngsters with development disabilities, and adolescents in drug-prevention programs and adults in methadone maintenance programs.  He later worked in a psychiatric inpatient setting, partial hospitalization programs, mental health clinics and management service.

Dennis has been affiliated part-time with Neighborhood Counseling Center since 1985 where he has served in a variety of roles including psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, instructor and administrator.  Dennis served as chairperson for the Mental Health Council of Staten Island from 1999- 2001.

A resident of Staten Island, he says he enjoys local cultural events, eateries and historic sites with his wife, Linda.

Dennis is credited with consistently advocating for mental health services and funding to address gaps in existing services.  He strongly believes, he says, that the active practice of tolerance is essential to all communities.  He would like to see this as a standard topic included in all the curriculums of the nation’s educational system.

“Our efforts to succeed in this area will make our communities stronger and will improve the quality of life for every member of the community.”