New York City

Learning About Housing Policy Abroad

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Nicole Bramstedt, Director of Policy at Urban Pathways took part in a unique exchange program this past April.

 The Transatlantic Practice Exchange is an opportunity for homeless staff in the U.K. and the U.S. to trade places in an effort to explore a practice and share it upon their return; this year Nicole was lucky enough to be chosen.

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

 Nicole spent 3 weeks working with Crisis, a 50-year old homeless organization with offices and services in England, Scotland, and Wales. Nicole’s goal was to learn what strategies Crisis uses to engage the private rental sector (PRS) to address homelessness.

 Crisis provides education, employment, housing and well-being services. Since 1997, Crisis has worked to make the (PRS) a viable housing option for the homeless. This is done by engaging the landlords, and understanding their concerns. Once the landlords concerns are heard, Crisis develops strategies to combat these issues starting pre, and during tenancy that benefit both the homeless and the landlord.

 The Tenancy Support Program begins with a housing induction to familiarize potential members with housing services. Crisis then explains the realities of the tight U.K. rental market, and the need to adjust housing expectations. Potential members then attend a Mini Renting Ready workshop that provides information on how to search for housing, the type of housing to search for, and the rent one can afford. After the workshop, members work with a housing coach and attend a “property searching club”.

 Tenancy support also aids members during tenancyby providing accredited Renting Readycourses including: housing rights, money management, and communications (tenant to tenant— tenant to landlord).

 This program enhances exit options, tenancy sustainment, and facilitates the transition to housing. According to staff at Crisis, landlords prefer tenancy support and have been more inclined to offer tenancy to individuals who have shown commitment to the program; sometimes even at lower rents.

 Landlords also prefer the consistent support by reputable providers that the tenancy program provides. Crisis engages landlords in advocacy; keeping them up to date on policy recommendations so that they are implemented, and homeless issues can be resolved.

 After her 3 week placement abroad, Nicole arrived back at Urban Pathways with the following feedback:

In the U.S. I think we need to think outside the box about addressing homelessness, all sectors should make efforts to work together. Crisis’ practices of tenancy training and engaging landlords in both housing and advocacy address the lack of information among the landlords, and the homeless.

My recommendations to improve sustaining tenancy and exit options are providing tenancy training in Shelters, Drop-In Centers, and Safe Havens. Utilizing matching programs for homeless individuals placed in shared permanent housing. Develop a housing pilot program for adults exiting transitional housing, and needing tenancy support. Finally engage landlords in homeless advocacy. “

These initiatives will aid in bridging the gap between the stakeholders, providers and the homeless.

We thank Nicole for taking part in the Transatlantic Practice Exchange and working with Crisis.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org 

Labor Day Barbecue at Cluster

Residents at Cluster House pose for a picture at their holiday barbecue 

Residents at Cluster House pose for a picture at their holiday barbecue 

This past Labor Day, Urban Pathways staff at Cluster House in New York City treated residents to a holiday barbecue!

This end of summer barbeque was the first of its kind at the Cluster House residence.

Staff served hamburgers, and hot dogs, as well as fried chicken, baked fish, string beans, potato salad, rice and beans, Cesar salad, and pound cake.

Residents came out in full force to enjoy the food, weather and their neighbors.  

I think this is great. I love that Urban Pathways does these events for their residents. It gets people out of their apartments and helps in making new friends.” –Jonathan

Residents at Cluster have a range of activities to take part in on a monthly basis such as: yoga, photography, and book clubs to name a few. Having a surprise barbecue proved to be the perfect ending to a summer in New York.

Help us continue to provide #thewayhome to homeless and at-risk New Yorkers.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org

Summer Highlights: Annual Barbecue at Ivan Shapiro

Residents of Ivan Shapiro and the Associate Board during this year's client BBQ. 

Residents of Ivan Shapiro and the Associate Board during this year's client BBQ. 

Last month Urban Pathways Associate Board treated the residents at Ivan Shapiro to a summer barbecue!

The annual barbecue took place at Ivan Shapiro’s back yard in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

Members of Urban Pathways' Associate Board were on hand to set up the event; give out food and hang out with the residents who are always eager to meet and talk to anyone they encounter.

I love having a barbecue here at Ivan Shapiro; it shows that Urban Pathways cares about their clients. I always look forward to these events because we get to talk to new and exciting people
-Stan 

The Associate Board is instrumental in planning resident focused events like the barbecue, game night, and other events centered on having Urban Pathways’ formerly homeless men and women better re-acclimate into society and their respective communities.

Join Urban Pathways and our Associate Board for their next fundraising event this September 13th at the Southwest Porch in Bryant Park. Sundown Social will be taking place from 7pm-9pm!

 Donate or purchase your tickets here.

Thank you to the Associate Board, the staff at Ivan Shapiro and you!

If you are interested in sponsoring a client event here at Urban Pathways please email us at: development@urbanpathways.org.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org

Urban Pathways Highlights: Robert Offley

Robert Offley receiving his Supporting Housing Network of New York (SHNNY) award for tenant of the year in October of 2017. 

Robert Offley receiving his Supporting Housing Network of New York (SHNNY) award for tenant of the year in October of 2017. 

Being born and raised in New York City, Robert Offley is no stranger to the concrete jungle. Robert had been street homeless for more than twenty years until he finally obtained permanent housing with Urban Pathways at the beginning of 2016.

Robert grew up in the Bronx and was raised by his mother where he was introduced to alcohol by age 14 and drugs at age 16. By age 23 Robert was married with 3 children and in a downward spiral with harder drugs.

Robert worked in the shipping business for 10 years until he was laid off. After losing his job, Robert worked as a porter for 7 years but was fired due to substance abuse and was eventually arrested due to possession of a controlled substance. Robert spent a one year jail and was diagnosed as a manic depressive. He was released from his incarceration and became homeless staying in Madison Square Park for over 10 years.

Life changed when Robert finally secured and apartment of his own, but he gave up his home up to care for his handicapped relative, it would be 5 years before Mr. Offley would be homeless again.

After his relative’s death, Robert couch-surfed and eventually returned to his comfort zone in Madison Square Park. When Robert’s father became ill he was called upon again to serve as a primary caregiver. Robert cared for his father until his passing. Once his father died, Robert again found himself once in Madison Square Park, reuniting with his old panhandling group of men and women who became his family. 

After taking care of others for so long, Robert realized that is was he that he needed help. One day, Robert was sleeping on a bench in Madison Square Park when he suffered a brain aneurysm. Two months after being released from the hospital Robert returned to Madison Square Park, but this time sought out help.

Robert, when he came in to Urban Pathways  

Robert, when he came in to Urban Pathways  

He came across Urban Pathways Outreach team and decided to engage with them. Tiffany Porter, an Outreach Specialist in the Flatiron BID Outreach Program, met Robert in Madison Square Park and, after several months of engaging him in conversations and gaining his trust, Tiffany secured permanent housing for Robert in our newest residence located near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. 

Now Robert is very involved in resident activities in his building and is an active participant in client advocacy groups. He is a friend to everyone and is loved by the staff and residents.

Robert never forgot where he came from, and today he often travels from his apartment to Madison Square Park to see his friends who still live there and help them gain housing as he did.

Urban Pathways' Residences at 162nd Street Bronx, NY 

Urban Pathways' Residences at 162nd Street Bronx, NY 

He enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and visits his mother monthly. Today, Robert is a success story of the Madison Square Park community and an advocate for those who are sick and unable to care for themselves. 

Robert uses his journey to find a home with Urban Pathways as an example, and shows others they too can obtain housing and live a better life. Thanks to Robert, some of his friends are on their way to permanent housing.

Urban Pathways has changed Robert’s life, giving him a sense of purpose when he wakes up in the morning. He has found himself again by finding a home, and always has a smile on his face that brightens up the room.

Recently this past October, Robert was awarded the Tenant of the Year award from the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY). Further showing his dedication to stability and wellness in the community. 

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org.