Brindisi Announces Funding for Utica AmeriCorps Program

November 7, 2012
Utica – Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D-Utica) announced that the Municipal Housing Authority of the City of Utica has been awarded $155,115 for its AmeriCorps Program.

The grant will enable UMHA to utilize 12 full-time AmeriCorps members to provide financial literacy, employment readiness, and housing information and referral services to Utica public housing and community residents. The focus groups for the project will be veterans, homeless persons, and refugees, although it will serve other community and public housing residents as well.

“The goal of this program is to make participants more self-sufficient,” Brindisi said. “AmeriCorps volunteers will set up a housing information and referral center to help community residents utilize housing assistance programs. Financial literacy education and job readiness services also will be available for public housing residents. And, two AmeriCorps volunteers will work out of the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center in Utica to provide support services to veterans who are homeless, or at risk of losing their housing.”

“Indeed, for residents of the Municipal Housing Authority of the City of Utica, this service shall complement what we have already achieved in our education partnerships with the Utica Public Library and MVCC in continuing our effort to enlist the support of volunteers through the New York State Commission on National and Community Service, which is part of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services,” said Dr. Taras J. Herbowy, the Executive Director of the Municipal Housing Authority of the City of Utica, New York.

“This exemplary program serves to amplify our part in achieving ‘a critical and cost-effective method’ to harness support, mobilize and more effectively and efficiently address the needs of our public housing population consistent with our Five-Year Plan, as submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. On behalf of our residents, staff, and Board of Commissioners, we look forward to implementing this very important and worthwhile program.”

“Volunteers will work with MHA staff to develop a one-stop housing information and referral center designed to work with low-income and homeless residents who are seeking public, subsidized, or private-sector housing. The center will assist these residents not only in finding quality housing, but with job search and career education training programs.”

“Because of the recent economic downturn, many local families face possible eviction or foreclosure,” Brindisi said. “This grant will result in the creation of a housing information and referral center staffed by AmeriCorps members and the UMHA. It will help low-income and homeless people qualify for public, subsidized, or private-sector housing.”

Brindisi said the financial literacy program will allow participants to get the information and skills they need to make good financial decisions. AmeriCorps members will provide information on topics such as budgeting, loans, credit and credit reports, predatory lending, and foreclosure prevention.

The job readiness skills program will help participants identify potential careers; enroll in job training programs; and learn how to apply for jobs. It also will ensure that public housing residents meet the HUD requirement that every able-bodied adult in public housing participate in eight hours of community service or economic self-sufficiency programs each month.

Brindisi said AmeriCorps grants are awarded to non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, schools, and local agencies that provide assistance in education, health, the environment, economic opportunity, veterans, and disaster services. UMHA has received a 39-month contract for the project, but the agency will be required to reapply each year to continue receiving the funding.

AmeriCorps is a national network of programs that engages more than 70,000 Americans annually in intensive service projects to meet critical needs in various communities.

The funding for this program has been made available through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.