In 2018, WRO’s Eviction Prevention Program helped almost 100 low and moderate income Westchester families avoid homelessness by providing cash assistance to those households, as well as counseling and education. WRO’s financial assistance came in several forms, including funds to help pay rental arrears or utility arrears to avoid eviction or utility shut-off, and funds for a security deposit or first month’s rent to help a client get into a new apartment.
Homelessness comes at great cost and risk to individuals and families, but also to the government and taxpayers. Nationally, each chronically homeless person costs the taxpayer about $36,000 a year. In an expensive region like Westchester County, the costs are even higher. The financial assistance WRO provided in 2018 averaged around $1,500 per household to keep a family sustainably housed. That’s a bargain, and kudos to our funders for making smart use of government funds.
Our counselors do much more than just write checks. They qualify clients for assistance and provide both large-group financial literacy workshops and one-on-one counseling for clients to ensure our clients have every opportunity to maintain a sustainable housing situation after receiving assistance.
WRO doesn’t do all this alone. The funds we distributed last year were provided to us by Westchester County, as well as the City of Yonkers’ Emergency Solutions Grant program and United Way’s Emergency Food & Shelter Program, and we receive programmatic support from additional grantors as well. WRO has four counselors in its Eviction Prevention Program, including two at our White Plains headquarters, and two others co-located with the Department of Social Services in their White Plains and Peekskill offices.