Low-income families aren’t seeing the economic help from the government they once did, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. And that can be bad, because this is when many of them may need it most.
Typically, households in dire financial straits may qualify for a one-time grant from a housing-related emergency fund known as One-Shot Deal from the city’s human resources administration department.
The grant often is used to help qualified families catch up on rent or utility bills, paying those funds directly to the landlord or utility company. It’s intended to be a stop-gap for those at risk of having their utilities cut off, or losing their homes.
The emergency grant can come either in the form of a loan that must be fully or partially repaid, or assistance that requires no repayment at all, depending on a family’s situation.
Yet, at the height of the pandemic last year, the number of emergency grants distributed by the city dropped, according to the budget office. The HRA handed out more than 6,100 One-Shot Deals in January 2020, but by that April in the midst of a lockdown, the agency distributed only a third of those grants.
The total money spent by the city in the One-Shot Deal dropped from $171 million to $139 million, the budget office said, but average payouts grew significantly from $2,500 to more thans $3,300.
Many city residents struggled to keep up with rent least year, with more than half the One-Shot grants earmarked to evade eviction.
Nitza Bravo spent months fighting with the management of her co-operative at 3215 Arlington Ave., to get insurance money she needed to restore the apartment she lost in a fire. And now Hudsoncrest Properties appears ready to make that happen.
Bravo shared her story with Riverdale Press readers last week about how a fire last January not only ravaged her home, but also claimed the life of her ex-husband, Juan Melendez.
The management company initially looked to do nothing more than patch up the damage, Bravo claimed, but now she expects to receive renovation funding upward of $100,000.
That still won’t be enough to make everything right again, however.
Bravo still awaits a $50,000 payout from her own personal insurance at Allstate. Still, the former high school teacher says she’s happy to finally see progress is being made to get her home again.
Once the insurance issues are resolved, Bravo tells The Press she’s going to seek a return of all her monthly maintenance fees paid while her co-op unit was uninhabitable.
Hudsoncrest Management has not responded to requests for comment.