Founded in 1977 and located in Brooklyn, CAMBA, Inc. is a nonprofit agency that spans across New York City with 95 locations. The organization serves more than 65,000 individuals and families each year, including 10,000 youth. Driven by a commitment and multidimensional approach to connecting people to opportunities that enhance quality of life, CAMBA operates more than 160 interconnected programs across the five boroughs. The holistic program offerings focus on housing stability, education and youth development, family and community support, health, economic development, and legal services.

CAMBA’s innovative approach to programming includes active listening within communities, which informs the direction of the organization’s work. The success of this strategy is reflected in CAMBA’s establishment and operation of creative programming that responds effectively to the evolving needs of New Yorkers. In 2021, the organization’s homelessness prevention services involved three interconnected campaigns to connect renters with resources to keep them stably housed.

“The pandemic and related economic crisis made it clear we needed to step up with additional resources and increase awareness for our programs that keep New Yorkers in their homes,” said Joanne M. Oplustil, President and CEO of CAMBA. “We saw an increased need amongst our clients for our housing stability services because of the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. A safe and affordable home is foundational to a stable life, so we worked quickly to help as many people as possible stay in their homes or find new housing to meet their needs.”

Launched to alleviate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income renters, Project Parachute is a coalition of owners of market-rate and affordable apartment buildings, housing nonprofits, and service providers that are funding an increase in supportive services for renters, including rental assistance counseling for all New York City tenants. The coalition’s FASTEN initiative connects individuals to rental assistance, service referrals, education on tenants’ rights, housing court navigation supports, informal landlord mediation counseling, referrals to benefits programs, assistance with application for COVID-19 relief resources, financial counseling, career support, short-term financial assistance (such as funding for security deposits and moving expenses), immediate needs grants, and rental assistance for NYC residents ineligible for other funding sources due to immigration or employment status. FASTEN serves households at or below 50% of AMI who have experienced financial hardship related to COVID-19 and who face housing insecurity. The program is expected to run through April 2022.

CAMBA also operates the You Can Van, which uses real-time data and mapping technology to bring services directly into neighborhoods with a high number of tenants at risk of eviction or applying for shelter. The You Can Van served approximately 525 community members in 2021. CAMBA also increased awareness of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) when it launched and helped 73 tenants fill out applications to obtain funding.

CAMBA’s You Can Van uses real-time mapping technology to bring mobile services to neighborhoods with the greatest needs.

Despite facing significant challenges in 2021, CAMBA remained steadfast in providing services that offer protection to thousands of low-income tenants in New York. Through its organizational voice and dedication to advocacy for housing justice in New York City, CAMBA actively works to bring both solutions and relief to its neighbors. As it looks towards the future and the expansion of its organizational impact, CAMBA will continue to respond to community needs by introducing innovative programs that proactively address the unmet needs of renters across the five boroughs.