NYC Rings In New Year With New Housing Ambassador Locales With “Ready To Rent” Program

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas (pictured) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer today announced five new Housing Ambassador locations.

… residents can access housing- focused financial counseling and application assistance at … East Harlem Council for Community Improvement – which will host regular counseling sessions from January through June 2018.

The Housing Ambassador locations work as financial counseling host sites for “Ready to Rent,” a program providing New Yorkers free one-on-one financial counseling and assistance with affordable housing applications. Just in time for the New Year, residents can access housing- focused financial counseling and application assistance at five specific Housing Ambassador locations across the city – Churches United for Fair Housing, Los Sures – Southside United HDFC, Legal Hand Jamaica: Center for Court Innovation, We Stay – Nos Quedamos, and Acacia Network – East Harlem Council for Community Improvement – which will host regular counseling sessions from January through June 2018.

To schedule a free appointment or to contact a Housing Ambassador, New Yorkers can call 311 and say “Ready to Rent” or visit nyc.gov/housing-ambassadors.

The City Council-funded Ready to Rent program, which is run in partnership with the financial counseling provider Ariva, was first implemented in the spring of 2017 to assess whether financial counseling could help affordable housing applicants submit a stronger application. During this time, DCA and HPD provided New York City residents with housing-specific financial counseling and assistance with the affordable housing application process. DCA will continue to work with Ariva, a nonprofit that provides free, comprehensive financial counseling and coaching to New Yorkers with low incomes. These housing-focused financial counseling sessions are tailored to each individual’s affordable housing goals. Counselors work with residents to review their credit history and the credit factors that affect housing eligibility, support them to accurately calculate their income, assist them in identifying financial goals, and help create realistic budgets that include rent, moving costs, and other housing-related expenses. Ariva counselors are trained on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s income qualifications and fair housing policies, and HPD’s affordable housing marketing and lottery process, policies, and procedures.

“The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to set goals and push yourself to be better than the year before,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “I encourage New Yorkers in need of affordable housing to challenge themselves to improve their financial health in 2018, and make preparing and applying for affordable housing their New Year’s Resolution. Our professional financial counselors are here to help you improve your credit, calculate your income for applications, and help you create a savings plan to help put you in a better financial position to obtain affordable housing and achieve your goals.”

“As we continue to make significant strides toward a more equitable and affordable city with Housing New York 2.0, we are committed to making affordable housing opportunities as accessible as possible for our city’s residents. Ready to Rent helps New Yorkers better prepare themselves to take advantage of the affordable housing that we are producing at record pace,” said Housing and Preservation Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank the City Council for their commitment to providing financial counseling and assistance to New Yorkers seeking affordable housing, and look forward to continued collaboration with our colleagues at the DCA, our Housing Ambassador partners, and Ariva in 2018.”

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“As communities across the five boroughs rapidly change, more and more New Yorkers find themselves searching for affordable housing,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “The Council is proud to have allocated nearly $1 million to the ‘Ready to Rent’ program for the past two years which has been a great tool in helping New Yorkers navigate the labyrinth that is the affordable housing process. With new Housing Ambassador locations added, I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this program and I thank Commissioner Salas and Commissioner Torres-Springer for their commitment in helping residents achieve their housing goals.”

“Here at Ariva, we’re thrilled to be working with these five outstanding community organizations in the next phase of Ready to Rent,” said Irene Baldwin, Executive Director of Ariva. “Neighborhood organizations are always the folks best able to address community needs. Through this partnership with the housing ambassadors, Ready to Rent will bring our counseling services and resources to people who need them most. We look forward to these new partnerships and the impact we’ll all have working together.”

HPD will again award its portion of City Council funding to a selection of community-based Housing Ambassador organizations which will host numerous public educational presentations and workshops of all sizes across the city, provide information and tools in multiple languages, connect people to in-person application assistance and financial counseling appointments. In addition to the five locations selected to host financial counseling, Ariva will be holding pop-up counseling sessions at various other Housing Ambassador locations throughout the program to allow even more New Yorkers to benefit from these free services.

Language services, accessibility, and providing assistance to people during non-traditional work hours were successful components of the 2017 program that will remain integral this coming year. DCA and HPD created a guide Ready, Set Apply: Getting Ready for Affordable Housing in NYC – which is now available in eight languages – to help New Yorkers prepare for and navigate the housing application process. City Council funding also facilitated translations in over a dozen languages of a step-by-step guide on what to expect when applying for affordable housing, an income guide, and a guide for selected applicants to prepare for their interview after they apply.

HPD will also continue to fund the Low Income Housing Tax Credit training for Housing Ambassador and Ariva staff, to improve their efforts in helping housing applicants better understand the income and tax requirement components of housing lottery applications. The program also offers informational materials for applicants, adding translations to more languages, and producing informational videos about the Housing Ambassador and Ready to Rent programs.

Together, DCA and HPD are working to enhance and integrate the HPD Housing Ambassador program and DCA’s financial empowerment services to better serve New York City residents.

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