Linda Udell is a seventy-year-old African American Bronx native. Her current home is not too far from the projects where she grew up; she has a supportive community of neighbors.
For years Linda worked mostly for attorneys, often training other employees in the newest software, and running the office. She is happy to tell you that she has always worked, always been self-sufficient, and has never been on welfare. In 2019, after a serious fall in the street, she qualified for some disability payments. But, says Linda, “I’ve never been the type to sit at home” and she went back to work as soon as she could. With her work income and SCRIE (a form of rent freeze) she was able to make ends meet.
Then the pandemic put Linda out of work, and she found herself applying for unemployment benefits. At the same time her health issues worsened, saddling her with more medical bills, even though she was insured. When the unemployment benefits ran out, she could not keep up. She says she “always paid something” toward her rent, but soon was $500 behind and on her way to being deeply in debt. “I was really stressing when I was behind. I needed to keep my insurance payments up – that’s important because I have several medical issues and medications. I just couldn’t get caught up!” Linda was frustrated and worried.
Linda’s priority was not to lose her housing. She met with a caseworker from The Bridge Fund and took advantage of their eviction prevention services, receiving a $1,527 rent grant as well as a $107 utility grant. The Bridge Fund grant paid her arrears plus the next month’s rent, putting her back on solid financial ground. “The Bridge Fund is phenomenal,” says a grateful Linda. “I am in my 70’s – I have never been on welfare, but I couldn’t get anyone to help me. They help people, they really do.”
Through The Bridge Fund, Linda attended a resumé workshop and worked with Income Growth Initiative specialist Jeffrey Ramos on her job-search efforts. Soon she was back to work three days a week at a private law firm. The Bridge Fund also provided a MetroCard for her commute until her first paycheck. For Linda, The Bridge Fund has made all the difference: ‘To be honest, I could praise them all day!