As I look ahead to 2021, I find myself reflecting on the whirlwind of a year we’ve all had – a devastating pandemic that has affected every aspect of our lives, a sobering reminder of the persistence and ugliness of systemic racism and one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Throughout it all, Jericho Project’s essential staff have continued to provide critical supportive services to men, women and children who are experiencing homelessness in our city. The selflessness and resiliency of our staff amidst everything we have weathered is a testament to both the quality of their individual character and the unwavering spirit of our organization.
Despite all of the challenges we have faced and all of the hard work we have done this past year, we are again faced with an impending homelessness crisis as rent freezes and the eviction moratorium are lifted and families – our neighbors – are displaced from their homes. To combat this, Jericho is proud to have recently expanded its family services by ushering in the opening of our first 35-unit family permanent supportive housing program. In fact, as you read this letter, families will actively be moving into their new apartments while we are work with other families to identify housing. This program will complement our wide array of family services that address all stages of homelessness; from housing access and placement on the front end through two Federally funded grants to homelessness prevention and aftercare services on the back end through a city-funded program that serves hundreds of families each year. Janika and her two children are one of those families who are depending on Jericho to help them during this holiday season:
Janika, a 27-year-old mother of two daughters – ages seven and one – has always considered herself a determined person and is currently saving to launch her own personal care business. Since enrolling in Jericho’s program, she has relied on us for basic supplies such as diapers, formula and baby clothes. Beyond that, she describes her Case Manager, Shirley, as her “go to person” who has provided her with resources for childcare, a crib and support in getting needed repairs in her apartment
These kinds of supports are vital for a person who has faced adversity since she was a teenager. When Janika was only 16, her grandmother who raised her in Florida fell ill. Janika began traveling to New York City to spend time with her estranged mother, but it was not an easy transition. At 18 she was pregnant and traveling between both locations while trying to maintain a stable relationship with the baby’s father.
By the time her daughter was two, Janika’s relationship with her mother was extremely strained. Without any other family supports or resources available, she moved into a shelter. Despite these hardships, Janika found employment in a retail store in Brooklyn – a vocation she loved so much that she was willing to make the two-hour commute each way from the Bronx
In the ensuing years, Janika attained affordable housing, worked at The Gap, and welcomed her second baby in 2019. However, she still faces formidable challenges as she tries to relocate from the unlivable conditions of her 5th floor apartment in the Bronx, in which the elevator is regularly broken and leaking plumbing poses health risks to her and her children. Yet Janika keeps her sights high: she monitors her older child’s online learning, amasses beauty products for her business, and dreams of moving to a lower Westchester or New Jersey suburb for her children.
Since 1979, NYC has afforded men, women and children the legal right to shelter. At Jericho Project, we believe in more than the right to shelter – we believe in the right to a permanent home. We need your help this holiday season to continue assisting families like Janika’s in this time of increased need.
If you value the services we provide to families – services that not only save you tax dollars and save the city’s resources, but more importantly, provide essential services and resources to families like Janika’s – please donate here or text “jerichoproject” to 44-321. Your donation, no matter the size, really makes a difference.
From all of us at Jericho Project, thank you for your support and compassion. It’s needed now more than ever.
With Warm Regards,
Tori Lyon, CEO