Since the pandemic began, Sunnyside Community Services in Queens has distributed over half a million dollars in cash assistance to struggling New Yorkers. But with more than 500 people currently on the waiting list, the funds have run out.
“The number of people asking for help is just staggering,” said Judith Zangwill, executive director of Sunnyside Community Services. “In a 12-month period during normal times, we would expect to distribute about $25,000 in assistance. Since March, we have given out 20 times that amount, and that represents just a small portion of the gaping need that is out there. We need our elected officials to marshal their resources to tackle this challenge.”
Since March, more than 500 people have received assistance from Sunnyside Community Services. The vast majority seeking help did so for rent expenses. Typically, applicants request help in the amount of $3–9,000 for months of past-due rent. Actual disbursements ranged from $50–$2,000.
A large portion of the assistance money was earmarked for undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for other forms of government aid such as unemployment insurance. Funding for the program was provided by Gerstner Family Foundation, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, The New York Community Trust, and Robin Hood Foundation.
“There is a lack of resources for undocumented immigrants,” said Johan Lopez, director of adult and immigrant services for Sunnyside Community Services. “Couple that with the fact that many immigrants rent their apartments with no lease agreements, and therefore have no protection against evictions, and it’s clear that our undocumented residents are facing unique challenges. Immigrants are the backbone of this city. But once the pandemic hit, there were no resources for them and they were left behind.”
Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) is a community-based nonprofit centered on the belief that every person deserves meaningful support to achieve their aspirations – especially struggling families and individuals. SCS serves a diverse community of over 16,000 people of all ethnicities and income levels throughout Queens with programs that range from pre-K to college and career readiness, home care and home health aide training, Beacon and Cornerstone community centers for children and families, a vibrant senior center and full range of services for at-risk older adults including social adult day care for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and a city-wide program of supportive services for those who care for them. With programs designed to enrich lives and strengthen communities through services and engagement for individuals at all ages, beginning with those most in need, SCS has been lighting up lives with programs as diverse as the people they serve since 1974. For more information visit www.scsny.org or email email@example.com.