by Urban Upbound’s staff members
The right to fair housing is one of the cornerstones of a just society. In April 1968, the last major piece of legislation of the civil rights movement — the Fair Housing Act — was implemented. This April, Urban Upbound commemorates National Fair Housing Month by emphasizing the significance of housing to wealth creation among communities often discriminated against, and by recommitting to our work in educating our clients on the steps they can take to achieve their housing goals.
Urban Upbound’s Financial Fitness Program includes one-on-one counseling and recurring workshops on affordable housing and homeownership. At the start of the pandemic we switched to online workshops and virtual counseling. This switch to a virtual delivery of our services made them more accessible for New Yorkers living in neighborhoods away from Long Island City, where our main offices are located. This new level of accessibility, coupled with a surge of interest in real estate to take advantage of the all-time low interest rates, resulted in our home-buying workshops becoming increasingly more popular. In 2020, attendance doubled compared to 2019, and we are poised to double it again.
After the workshops, clients can schedule one-on-one sessions with our HUD certified housing counselor. These sessions are carefully designed to assist clients in achieving their financial and housing goals. Some of the services we offer include putting together applications for affordable rental housing. We also offer support and tools to help clients manage their finances in preparation for their homeownership journey.
Participants learn a great deal from the workshops and are able to reflect on their own readiness for homeownership. “The presenters were extremely knowledgeable and provided excellent information. The segments were interactive and built confidence in the homebuyers process,” said a participant who attended a pre-pandemic in-person workshop last year. A client who participated in one of the virtual workshops earlier this year said, “[the workshop] really helped me see where I was in the process of buying a home. I have been able to save more money during the pandemic than I usually could before this, so I have a sizable savings. Even though my savings was not enough for a regular mortgage, they shared so many resources and grants that can help a first-time home buyer like me in the workshop.”
At Urban Upbound, we understand the importance of advancing equity in housing and eliminating economic barriers that have long existed in our neighborhoods. Our free services are a hand up for low-income New Yorkers fighting to break cycles of poverty and achieve economic independence. You can support our cause by donating here and you can learn more about our impact and work by following us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube) and subscribing to our newsletter.