Affordable Housing Seminars for Seniors

Project FIND and Community Board 7 Senior Task Force lead three-part virtual education series

| 12 Jul 2022 | 10:53

This July, Project FIND, a nonprofit that provides seniors with affordable housing, and the Community Board 7 Senior Task Force are running a three-part virtual education series for older adults on how to find, keep, and enjoy affordable housing in the city. The sessions will take place over Zoom, phone, and in-person at Project FIND’s Hamilton Older Adult Center at 141 West 73rd Street.

Each seminar will be focused on a different aspect of affordable housing and will be led by organizations focused on helping seniors live a more fulfilling life. “With Manhattan’s senior population growing steadily, we have to make sure that older adults are supported as they continue to age,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.

Every year, the Community Board 7 Senior Task Force runs a different event, said Associate Executive Director of Project FIND Mark Jennings. “I’ve been on the task force for a couple of years, and just prior to COVID, we put on a sort of health fair and resource fair for older adults,” he said.

For this year’s event, Jennings pitched the idea of a seminar to educate older adults about affordable housing options available to them. “It’s an attempt to get rid of the mythology around housing and to educate people about the types of housing out there,” Jennings said. “Affordable housing is like a diamond in the rough in Manhattan, and it’s always getting tougher and tougher [to find] in New York in general.”

The planning for the event began in March, Jennings said. “It’s taken a little bit of time to snowball into the event that you see right now,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of support from elected officials and Gale Brewer’s office in particular.”

Documents People Need

The first seminar, on July 13 at 2:00 p.m., will focus on how to obtain affordable housing. The seminar will be presented by three organizations: Live On, which works to improve the life of seniors; Fairstead, focusing on affordable housing access; and CP Unlimited, which provides care to persons with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities. “People don’t always know about the documents that they might need to get into housing,” Jennings said. “We really want people to be as equipped as possible.”

This first session will cover how lotteries work and the different types of affordable housing available to seniors, such as supportive housing and regulated properties, Jennings said. Lotteries can have long waits that may last up five years.

During this waiting period, people should prepare needed documents, such as their bank account information and their birth certificate, Jennings said. “Being prepared when your name is called is very important,” he said, as it can speed up the process.

The second seminar, taking place on July 20 at 2:00 p.m., will focus on how to maintain housing. Live On, the NYC Commission of Human Rights, and S:US-Homebase, a group that works to prevent homelessness will lead the seminar. The seminar will discuss resources available to tenants who are struggling to stay in housing, including rental assistance and benefits.

With the loss in income caused by COVID-19 and the life changes that old age brings, many seniors struggle with maintaining their housing, Jennings said. “We’ve seen in certain areas that affordable housing is disappearing in favor of more market-rate housing,” he said. “Sometimes that’s because people leave, and many times they leave because they don’t know their rights or what is due to them.”

The third seminar, on July 27 at 2:00 p.m., will focus on how seniors can thrive in their housing. Three organizations will lead this final seminar: Lighthouse Guild, a group that helps people with visual impairments achieve their goals, DOROT and Search and Care, two organizations that try to improve seniors’ quality of life. People spend their lives in their homes, so the goal of this session is to make those years as enjoyable as possible, Jennings said.

The session will educate seniors on resources that exist to help them when they need medical care or food, as well as ways they can have fun and build community, Jennings said. From needing to see a doctor to wanting to socialize, people need contact, he said. “Some people can become reclusive and isolated, and we want to make sure that folks know there are resources available to them,” Jennings said.

By hosting the seminars both over Zoom and in person, Project FIND and the CB 7 Senior Task Force hope to allow as many seniors to participate as possible. “We know that not everybody has the technology to be able to participate,” Jennings said.

After the seminars, Project FIND and the Task Force plan on sending out a resource guide to older adults who RSVPed with additional information. “We don’t want to see our elders put out into the streets,” Jennings said. “Information is power. The more knowledge people have about the resources available to them, the better they will be able to maintain the precious gift of affordable housing.”

“People don’t always know about the documents that they might need to get into housing. We really want people to be as equipped as possible.” Mark Jennings, Project FIND