Renewed Effort Aims to Help Bedford-Stuyvesant Residents Gain Financial Footing and Stay in Their Homes

As housing costs rise in Brooklyn, there is a renewed effort in Bedford-Stuyvesant to help residents gain their financial footing and remain in their homes. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Wayne Spears came into the Economic Solutions Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant earlier this year unemployed. But after taking free job training courses here and using its placement services, he's now a full-time building maintenance worker. 

"It was a miracle because I couldn't find nowhere to go, and this was the only door that was open," Spears said.

Spears also got credit counseling and opened his first bank account. 

Spears: Believe it or not, I wasn't making enough money to open up a bank account.
Ramirez: You have direct deposit, I assume?
Spears: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. And it's a beautiful thing.

The Economics Solution Center had been spread out over several sites, but now, all the services are under one roof. Over the summer, the Robin Hood Foundation and Home Depot helped fund the renovation of this 4,000-square-foot space in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza. 

"We have job developers, job trainers. We have case managers. We have folks with a masters in social work. We have several financial counselors on staff," said Tracey Capers, executive vice president with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corp.

The goal is to provide one location for residents to help them get out of debt, upgrade their skills, stay gainfully employed and withstand rising housing costs in a rapidly changing community.

"We find ourselves as the epicenter of gentrification. Being able to have residents put themselves in a position that they can earn more and be able to stay in this community where most of them have spent their entire lives, or generations of families have been here and find themselves being pushed out. So any way we can level the field is incredible," said City Councilman Robert Cornegy of Brooklyn.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation was created in 1967 by U.S. Senators Robert Kennedy and Jacob Javits of New York with that mission, to improve the quality of life in central Brooklyn by supporting economic stability for its residents among other initiatives.  

Although the center is already up and running in its new space, it'll have its formal ribbon cutting on Tuesday.

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