City of Yonkers working on rent relief for families in need
Adobe stock//Christopher Meder
The Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority and the Family Service Society of Yonkers work together to help families find affordable housing.
It’s no secret that rents are on the rise in Westchester County. For families in need of rent relief, such increases can be devastating. That’s why the Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority and the Family Service Society of Yonkers are teaming up on a new program to support related families in the community.
Dubbed the Kinship Support Program, this initiative aims to connect needy families with Section 8 housing vouchers and alleviate extreme rent hardship for families without the means to support themselves.
A “kinship family” is defined as a family unit headed by a grandparent or other non-parent caring for a child. These families are often the result of trauma or upheaval, and in Yonkers more than 90% of kinship families are classified as “extremely low income”, making it difficult to access suitable housing.
Nationally, monthly rents reached all-time highs, and the median price of an apartment in Yonkers is well above the national average; the average rent for an apartment in Yonkers is over $2,000/month. Many related families do not have the resources to afford this price spike, especially when the heads of household are retired grandparents who are not actively earning money through employment. . In Yonkers, most kinship families are headed by single grandmothers.
According to Sylvia Gaynor, a family caregiver and member of FSSY’s GrandPower Advocacy Project, “Family caregivers face many unique challenges in finding safe and affordable housing in which to raise our children. Many of us are seniors with very few financial resources, and some of us live in seniors’ residences. After taking responsibility for our grandchildren, we are no longer eligible for this senior housing and have to move.
Section 8 housing is a government program intended to provide some form of rent relief by assisting eligible households with the payment of rent. The program operates through a voucher system and helps more than two million low-income households pay their rent each year. Even so, there is a shortage and no guarantee that an eligible household will receive one of the much-needed vouchers.
What the YMHA and FSSY are working to do is give preference to related families to receive Section 8 vouchers so that these family units already under undue economic stress can afford to live.
The Family Service Society of Yonkers was founded in 1883 and through this kinship support program with the YMHA helps 50 families. In Yonkers alone, more than 1,400 grandparents are raising grandchildren and, until unmanageable rent prices are resolved, more and more families, related or not, may continue to struggle find safe and affordable housing in Westchester.
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