Resident Services: "Always here to help"
When Alba Rojas was having difficulty paying her rent at the North Canal Apartments, she didn’t know where to turn.
Enter Nylmarie Espinosa, Resident Services Coordinator for Maloney Properties, which manages CBA’s numerous housing developments.
When Nylmarie sat down with Alba to review her financial situation, she realized that Alba had no health insurance. Because she was paying for all of her medications in cash, she was often left without enough money to pay rent.
“Always here to help”
A widow who emigrated from Colombia, Alba speaks very little English and has trouble navigating the often confusing legal, financial and healthcare systems. Nylmarie helped Alba sign up for MassHealth, enabling her to pay for both her medications and rent. Seeing that Alba was having trouble in other areas, Nylmarie contacted Elder Services of Merrimack Valley to provide help with cleaning, shopping, and transportation to doctors’ appointments.
“It’s wonderful. She’s my savior,” Alba says, beaming at Nylmarie. “She is always here to help.”
Alba is one of more than 1,000 residents who live in CBA’s 473 rental units throughout Lowell, more than half of them in the North Canal Apartments on Moody Street. In addition to developing quality housing, CBA provides a variety of resident services programs targeted to help tenants work toward financial stability, secure health care, and positive, productive relationships in the neighborhood and community.
Helping residents succeed as tenants
Community development organizations like CBA often receive special funding to house the most vulnerable populations, many of whom have transitioned from homeless shelters, according to Sara Barcan, Housing Development Program Manager for the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, a public-private, community development finance institution that has provided funding to CBA and other nonprofit organizations for that purpose. In return, developers set aside units to house formerly homeless households and also provide services to help those residents succeed as tenants.
“What CBA does is help provide individuals and families with the tools they need to live the life they want, with safe, quality housing, a stable household, and growth toward greater independence,” she says.
CBA has been providing these programs and services to all residents for decades, regardless of whether they have received funding to assist them.
“By providing services that respond to the needs of our residents, our goal is to help them be successful as tenants and successful in life,” says Meena Jacobs, Director of Real Estate for CBA. “Far more than just putting a roof over their heads, we are focused on the overall health and success of the individual, the property, and the neighborhood.”