The Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corp. has set up shop in Senator Jeff Klein’s office and for good reason.
In 2017, Senator Klein allotted $147,000 to the organization to help them continue their work in the Bronx.
With a portion of the funds, the NIDC has started Tenant Advocacy Office Hours in the senator’s office every Wednesday to help residents in his district with their housing issues.
“We advocate for tenants and sometimes landlords and by that I mean we deal with whatever issues they have like repairs, rent, housing court,” said NIDC director of Housing and Community Development, Hazel Miura.
“We’re the only community organization within Community Board 11 that offers the services that we do.”
Since the Tenant Advocacy Office Hours started in November, NIDC has helped many residents with housing issues, big and small, and has 15 currently active cases.
“We don’t turn anybody away and if we can’t help you we always try to find somebody that will,” Miura added.
“We’re always trying to put the word out there that this is what we do, we’re a one-stop-shop.”
Catherine Kilby, a Bronx native and longtime resident of Pelham Parkway, said when she visited the office for help with her housing problems she was directed to NIDC’s tenant advocacy program.
“I’m the type of person that’s very skeptical, I don’t trust people,” said Kilby, who lives alone and has had issues paying her rent because she is disabled and her income is far less than her rent, which is expected to increase shortly.
“I have an Adult Protective Services worker and I needed assitance paying rent, but nobody was doing nothing. NIDC helped me more than anybody.”
Kilby’s case is still pending, but when it is resolved, she will probably secure a SEPS (Special Exit and Prevention Supplement) grant and finish getting the necessary work done to remove the bedbugs in her apartment.
“Navigating housing issues can be a complicated matter, which is why I’ve partnered with NIDC to offer tenants in my district assistance with the many challenges they face on a daily basis,” said Klein.
“I encourage any tenants in my district who are facing difficulties with their housing situation to contact my office for help.”
In addition, the NIDC representative at the Tenant Advocacy Hours has also helped Kilby with other aspects of her living situation, like helping her with problems she was having with food stamps, according to Kilby.
“The biggest thing is when we can resolve somebody’s problem,” Miura said.
“People come to us and sometimes their issues are very tiny, like they have a faucet that’s leaking. We get the super to go in and fix that and that’s great but to them it’s the world.”
As an organization, the NIDC helps about 600 people a year, based on those who go to their drop in hours at their headquarters, according to Miura.
This estimate, however, doesn’t include the number of people they help through its outreach programs.
“The cases we get [at Tenant Advocacy Office Hours] are really tough cases to handle,” Miura explained.
“These cases usually involve going to housing court, which can be time consumming, depending on the issue,” she said.