Message from the Chief Executive Officer
In Westchester, homelessness is under fairly good control at the present time, far below the peak in 1990. There is excellent coordination and cooperation between government—especially Westchester’s Department of Social Services—and non-profits. The Bridge Fund is an integral part of the social service safety net addressing the problem, and the only privately funded program in the county. In the fall of 2015, our program there received a special commendation from the County Executive for its work in preventing homelessness. In Westchester we must keep pressing ahead to strengthen prevention efforts, otherwise homelessness will worsen again due to continuing economic pressures on the working poor. The cost of housing and utilities in Westchester is much higher than elsewhere in the country, while wages remain almost stagnant.
In New York City, the homelessness problem has worsened considerably in recent years. Our city program is very effective in providing comprehensive services to a great many people. But the number of families and individuals in public shelters is at a critically high level. At last count, there were almost 24,000 children in city shelters. We can’t emphasize strongly enough the negative long-term effects that homelessness has on children.
Our results in 2016 are a further confirmation of the success of our efforts. The Bridge Fund’s two operating programs financially assisted 1,001 working poor households using $1.34 million of its own funds, $1.1 million in networked from other agencies for our loan and grant packages, and almost $814,000 from client contributions to resolve their own rental arrears. In total, we mobilized $3,290,685 to prevent homelessness for 2,171 individuals, including 707 children.
In the fall of 2015, we launched a new initiative to help Holocaust Survivors and continued this in 2016. With this dedicated effort, we are able to provide financial assistance for rental arrears and utility grants to an elderly population struggling on incomes at or below the poverty level.
Our goal is to raise the profile of The Bridge Fund and expand and replicate our model. For the past 26 years, our approach has proven its effectiveness for nearly 16,000 households, benefiting 37,600 working poor individuals.
Since our founding in 1991, The Bridge Fund remains one of the most humane, cost-effective, and efficient answers to reducing homelessness. We thank all of you who have contributed to the work of our programs for your generous support.
Barbara Hayes, Chief Executive Officer
The Bridge Fund of New York Inc.