The Bridge Fund of Westchester
Who we are.
Director, The Bridge Fund of Westchester
Sharon Syndor-Whyte and Jacqueline Melendez
2018 Year in Review:
In the past year, The Bridge Fund of Westchester continued its unwavering commitment to serving working poor individuals and families who are in danger of losing their housing. Our emphasis on private prevention of homelessness, working in cooperation with the county government, has had a positive impact. There has been a distinct correlation between the start and rise of The Bridge Fund and the fall of homelessness in Westchester (see chart below).
In 2018, we helped to stabilize 309 threatened households, and an additional 60 households were given case management and/or budget services, for a total of 369 households assisted. The number of households helped in 2018 included 274 children, 375 adults and 38 seniors, a total of 687 people. This is a significant increase from 2017, when 337 households received financial assistance.
The underlying factor creating the need for Bridge Fund services is that rental costs continue to rise in relation to income, making our working poor clients extremely vulnerable to adverse developments in their lives. The United Way of Westchester and Putnam counties recently conducted an ALICE study (an acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), and represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation. The report revealed that 10 percent of households were in poverty and 24 percent were under the ALICE threshold of $22,680 for a single adult and $77,892 for a family of four. With almost one in four families under the threshold of self-sufficiency, the work of The Bridge Fund has become more essential than ever in Westchester County.
Recent Success Stories in Westchester
Director’s Annual Message
The Atmosphere in Westchester County
- There are 97,454 people living in poverty or 10% of the population.
- A person must work 135 hours per week, or 3.4 full time jobs, to afford a 2-bedroom apartment without being considered “housing cost burdened,” where 30% or more of income is spent on rent.
- An estimated 40,240 households receive Food Stamps.
- Today Westchester has more homeless people than any other New York county outside New York City
- 739 children in 2018, up 17.7% from 2015
- 396 families in 2018, up 5.6% from 2015
- 1,827 total people in 2018, up 1.7% from 2015
What is causing Westchester’s high rate of homelessness?
- Poverty and under employment
- Divorce and failure to provide child support by one partner
- Less acceptance of domestic violence, primarily of women
- Returning veterans with mental health or drug problems
- Declines in Federal housing subsidies
- Aging out of foster care
- Increasing rents in Westchester County
- Poor education and lack of job skills
Westchester’s Hidden Homeless
- Westchester has over 1,800 homeless school-age children living doubled-up with
relatives or others, twice as many as in homeless shelters.
- No one has any statistical data on the living conditions of these 1,800 “hidden
homeless” school-age children.
The Bridge Fund of Westchester Experience in 2019
- Average client spends over 47% of their income on rent
- 355 households received financial assistance for rental arrears in 2019, up 9% from 2018
- We provided 85 households with food pantry assistance
Our Response in 2020
- Try to raise additional funds to meet increasing demand of Westchester residents
- Explore the development of community-based relationships throughout the county including Peekskill and Yonkers
- Put clients in touch with workforce development services
Grace Perry, Director
The Bridge Fund of Westchester