My name is Kristie Ortiz-Lam. I have been working with the Preserving Affordable Housing Program at Brooklyn A for nearly five years. What makes me passionate about our work is that we help people who are historically disenfranchised. The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health, economic and racial justice crises have profoundly impacted our communities. I am deeply concerned about the housing security of Brooklyn A’s clients. Now more than ever we need maximum support from our champions, like you, to meet the need.
Being on the ground, advocating for tenants rights, this is what my colleagues and I are seeing:
- Eviction moratorium policies remain in place on some levels yet the implementation differs based on jurisdiction. Extensions on moratoriums are continuously made at the last minute – leading to anxiety and confusion amongst tenants and advocates.
- There has been a lack of financial support for tenants to be able to afford rent during massive shutdowns and economic hardship. An estimated 30-40 million people in the US could be evicted from their homes if there is no additional financial support or stay on evictions.
- There has been a rise in illegal lockouts, often resulting from household disputes and landlord harassment.
- There is a surge of interest in tenants wanting to organize their buildings and advocate for their fair housing rights.
Brooklyn A is addressing these needs by:
- Providing legal advocacy as before but now following the new norms of e-filings and virtual court appearances.
- Empowering and supporting tenants to fight for better housing conditions and treatment through tenant organizing.
- Providing virtual workshops on tenants’ rights.
- Assisting tenants to obtain rental assistance through special COVID-19 rent-relief programs and one-shot deals.
- Creating campaigns to promote widespread awareness of tools to prevent eviction such as the tenant hardship declaration.
- Providing brief legal advice on different practice areas relating to housing issues, including criminal law, immigration, and other practice areas.
- Sharing information and exploring solutions through participation in advocacy coalitions like LEAP and Right to Council Coalitions.
Many of the above challenges which a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are still evolving and the end is not yet in sight. Yet, we also recognize that by working together, we have the power to prevent homelessness and to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you or someone you know needs help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718.487.2300.
If you have the means, please consider spreading justice with Brooklyn A by giving a donation.Your support and contribution are crucial to our ability to sustain our work and continue to be a trusted resource, especially at this moment, when our communities need help the most.
Kristie Ortiz-Lam, Esq.
Deputy Director, Preserving Affordable Housing Program