This blog is part of a series highlighting the work of community-based organizations supported through our Covid-19 response work in New York State. Read our first and second posts.

PathStone is a nonprofit community development and human service organization serving Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virginia, and Vermont. In New York State, PathStone owns and operates affordable homes in underserved areas, primarily targeting residents with household incomes of 30-60 percent of area median income (AMI). In addition to operating affordable housing, PathStone facilitates access to counseling and financial resources to stabilize living environments and further economic security.

Continuing to provide safe stable housing, especially during a crisis, is of the utmost importance to PathStone and other affordable housing providers. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the ability of households to pay their rent emerged as an immediate and critical need in the communities PathStone serves.

The challenge was twofold: Residents needed a lifeline to continue to stay in their homes as they weathered sudden job losses related to the pandemic, and PathStone needed the financial stability to continue operations, especially with the increased cleaning protocols and hazard expenses necessary to keep their building environments safe.

Ensuring the health and safety of residents, many of whom are seniors or people with underlying health issues, in addition to the health and safety of their property maintenance crews, was PathStone’s number one priority.

Enterprise New York provided PathStone with a $150,000 grant to support direct rental assistance for households affected by job loss and financial insecurity due to the pandemic, hazard pay for maintenance staff, personal protective equipment, and organizational support. With the technical assistance portion of the grant, Enterprise connected PathStone to peer-to-peer learning opportunities on maintaining operations and organizational stability during the crisis.

With the grant funds, PathStone was able to shore up safety protocols for ten of their properties across the state. Staff morale is higher as PathStone has been able to support their essential workers by providing hazard pay increases as well as proper safety gear. Enterprise’s flexible grant also enabled PathStone to provide this support without having to dip into their limited operational reserves.

By utilizing these grant resources, precious reserves can be saved and used to improve their housing portfolio, resulting in long-term preservation of affordable housing past Covid-19. PathStone has also utilized a small portion of the grant specifically for leadership development to allow the new CEO, who took the helm at the organization in April 2020, to support the implementation of PathStone’s new strategic plan.

Establishing a system for addressing back rent owed by residents has proved more challenging. PathStone assumed that most residents would want to be current with their rent payments; a number of residents, however, were wary of discussing rental arrears with property managers.

This prompted PathStone to develop a process for residents who owed back rent, which includes incentives such as additional rental assistance for those households who have been communicating with management and who are actively involved in the creation of a payment plan. Creating a procedure for addressing back rent and allocating rental assistance as well as a strategy to reach out to tenants has allowed PathStone to effectively steward resources and information to residents about their options.

Having the flexibility and support to identify issues with their current systems and support their residents and staff moving forward has been integral to PathStone’s ongoing response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The Enterprise grant has allowed PathStone to shore up the immediate needs of their residents, staff, and operations, as well as establish systems to address ongoing challenges as they arise.
Enterprise is a proud partner of PathStone, and of all community-based organizations who fill this critical role of first responders within their communities.

Enterprise New York would like to thank the following partners for supporting our Covid-19 response work: New York State Attorney General, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo and Enterprise New York’s Gotham Society.