When Ava was laid off from her administrative job with a service workers union in Flushing, she wasn’t all that worried about it: “I got a severance package and unemployment benefits for two years so I thought I was OK,” she says. “I was fine with living frugally, but then the unemployment ran out and I knew I was in trouble.” Ava was doing as much temp work as she could find and digging into her savings, but it became increasingly difficult to meet the rent. “I decided I had to reinvent myself and look for a career elsewhere,” says Ava.
Through a Jamaica-based jobs program for people over 55 years old, she got a minimum wage job at a college. Ava’s hours soon expanded to 20 hours a week, but the salary didn’t succeed in making ends meet. “I found myself four months in arrears,” she says, “but as desperate as I felt, I just knew I couldn’t ask my elderly mother for help!” Facing the loss of her apartment, Ava had to go back and forth to Housing Court. But one day, in the lobby of the Housing Court building, she got into a discussion with a volunteer about her options.
“She took out her laptop right then and there and helped me fill out an application and sent a referral to The Bridge Fund. In days, I was informed that I was eligible for their pre-retirement rent subsidy program!”Ava
Ava was nearing retirement age—but not quite there yet!—so she was thrilled to discover this pre-retirement subsidy program. From The Bridge Fund, she both received a grant for her rental arrears and was approved for a short-term monthly rent subsidy until her retirement benefits kicked in. “Filling in the gap was crucial!” says Ava. “If The Bridge Fund hadn’t stepped in, I would have been homeless. Between that, and the fact that I have a union pension coming soon for all the years on the job, I know I’m going to be able to manage.”