In December 2022, Neighborhood Defender Service contacted The Bridge Fund on behalf of Aida Navarro and her five-year-old daughter Layla. Both were adversely affected by the pandemic economy, owed their landlord rent, and were in danger of losing their rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan and therefore becoming homeless. Specifically, they needed $3,000 from The Bridge Fund to pay the balance owed on their $1,579-a-month rental.

Aida had a good reason for owing rent. She experienced periods of unemployment and underemployment during March 2020 through much of 2022. She was not alone. In fact, according to the Robin Hood Foundation and Columbia University, nearly three in five working families in New York City experienced a loss of income during the pandemic. Like so many of them, Aida also had the fear of becoming seriously ill. On top of that, she experienced the difficulty of balancing a disruption in childcare and managing her college studies and career goals. She knew, however, that dropping out or giving up was not an option. “No es facil. But you can’t give up, especially if you have children,” she says.

Aida made it a point to quickly adapt to working both at home and in the office. At the time of her application to The Bridge Fund, she had returned to work part time at a local college and had secured ongoing, supplemental assistance from City government. Her determination inspired The Bridge Fund to invest in the family’s home and future. Today, Aida and Layla are thriving. They love their vibrant neighborhood, the strong community it offers, and the many children for Layla to play with, like their neighbor’s child Luca (pictured). Mother and daughter are engaged in in-person learning, and Aida, who enjoys both science and psychology courses, will soon have to declare a major. She and her daughter are grateful for the help they’ve gotten and states, “I want to use my degree to help people.”

“I want to use my degree to help people.”

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