By Richard Trouth
Brooklyn Neighborhood Services revitalizes underserved neighborhoods by creating and preserving affordable housing and providing opportunities for homeownership education, financial empowerment and community leadership; working in partnership with government and business, we are led by residents and guided by local needs.
This year is a milestone for us: On January 1, 2017, Brooklyn Neighborhood Services (BNS), formerly known as Neighborhood Housing Services of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc.(NHSBS), declared independence from a network of organizations comprising Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHSNYC). In 2016, NHSNYC initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process to guide our work for the next three to five years. One of the outcomes of this process was a decision to change NHSNYC’s operating structure so that the neighborhood organizations could be nimbler and best respond to the needs of their respective communities; thus, four NHS neighborhood corporations became separate and independent. These newly formed community development corporations have maintained strong neighborhood partnerships as they continue to seek more opportunities to reach people in their perspective neighborhoods throughout New York City.
BNS has expanded our target areas to not only serve residents across northern Bedford-Stuyvesant and Central Brooklyn, but also across communities in Southeast Brooklyn, to now serve vulnerable homeowners, building owners and managers who have given the revised fold plain mapping that are now subject to new insurance provisions and government requirements to prepare their residential structures to prevent future storm damage. Our full menu of programs and services include: First-time Homebuyer Education, Down Payment and Closing-Cost Assistance, Tenant Counseling Services, Financial Literacy Education and Counseling (Youth & Adult), Resiliency Counseling and Education, FREE Income Tax Preparation, Rehab and Repair Grants for Senior Homeowners, LEAD Education and Outreach and Community Leadership Training.
In 2016, we provided pre-purchase homeownership counseling and education to 127 residents seeking to purchase their first home; we facilitated 23 first mortgages totaling $7.1 million; assisted 91 distressed homeowners in saving their homes from foreclosure by obtaining affordable and permanent loan modifications; we provided financial literacy counseling and education to 137 adults and 72 youth between the ages of eleven and seventeen; graduated 39 participants from the Home Maintenance Training Program; provided down payment and closing-cost assistance to 21 first-time homebuyers totaling over $240,000.00.