January 2021 Issue
CAMBA Joins Vaccine Initiative
Governor Cuomo requested CAMBA’s Cornerstone Community Center, located in the NYCHA Stuyvesant Gardens housing development be used as a vaccination site for seniors. We welcomed taking part in the initiative and were reassured by the preparation and oversight. The vaccine distributor, SOMOS Community Care, dropped off equipment and supplies and sanitized the entire Center. They set up organized dividers in the Community Room to vaccinate three people at a time. Resting areas were set up in a waiting room as those who were vaccinated were monitored for 15 minutes before they departed the Center. On Friday, January 22nd 129 seniors were vaccinated. We expect to open our other Community Centers over the coming weeks to seniors, and we are ready, willing and able to host vaccine distribution to the community in general when the time comes.

Partnering with the 73rd Precinct on Community Safety

CAMBA has been deeply involved in meeting the emerging needs of Brooklyn communities since 1977. At the end of 2015, CAMBA launched the BIVO program (Brownsville In Violence Out), in direct response to the disturbingly high rate of shootings in Brownsville. BIVO is part of the national evidence-based Cure Violence model. Since the pilot, shootings decreased in our catchment area each year through 2019. BIVO's focus area went 380 days without a shooting between 2017 and 2018. This success is attributed both to the commitment of CAMBA staff and our close working relationship with Brownsville’s 73rd Precinct.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic’s economic impact, combined with social unrest following the senseless and tragic killing of George Floyd, shootings increased in 2020. In an effort to bring the community together and find solutions to reduce the violence, the 73rd Precinct in partnership with BIVO, other nonprofits and city agencies, organized a Block Takeover from December 8-12. The Takeover was by the local organizations who offered information on jobs, education and housing, with the police withdrawing from their usual posts within the two block-radius of the takeover. Building community relationships amongst neighbors and providing struggling families with needed resources is a proven method to reducing stress, discord and violence. The pilot, known as The Brownsville Safety Alliance, was considered a success by all, including the community, the 73rd Precinct and City Hall. 

Brooklyn Entrepreneurs Compete in "Pitch Contest"

CAMBA’s Small Business Services helps aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners plan and reach their goals through one-on-one consultations, business plan workshops, start-up or expansion loans, and technology training. Our recent “Pitch Competition” attracted start-up entrepreneurs and gave them the opportunity to pitch their visions of success to a panel of accomplished business professionals. Our thanks to Marie Pedraza from HSBC, Ragini Bhuyan from Capital One, and Christopher Auguste from Kramer Levin who were our three judges. 

This year’s competition was held via Zoom and included 13 participants in the first round with five finalists moving on to the second round. Many of the participants had taken advantage of our "Pitch Your Business" workshop which provided guidance and support on how to provide a compelling description of their business within 60 seconds. This made it difficult to choose finalists and winners as everyone pitched really well! 

Increasing New York’s Affordable, Supportive Housing

The idea that having a place to call home is foundational to a healthy, productive life has been a core principle of CAMBA Housing Venture’s (CHV) work since we started developing affordable housing in 2005. 

We are pleased to report that CHV closed on a new development in the Bedford Park neighborhood of the Bronx. The two new buildings located at 261 East 202nd Street and 270 East 203rd Street, will bring 323 units of sustainable, affordable, and supportive rental housing for low-income individuals and families between 30 percent and 80 percent area median income (AMI). Units will also be set aside for community members exiting a New York City Department of Homeless Services shelter who have special needs, are veterans, or are frail elderly.

On-site social services will be available to residents at all income levels and include economic development services, education and youth development programming, family counseling and support, nutrition services, independent living skills, mental health care, substance abuse services and financial workshops.

CAMBA's Radio Personality

Grace Ruiz, Homebase Manager, has become a regular contributor on Caribbean Power Jam Radio. CAMBA’s Homebase program provides a variety of homelessness prevention tools to assist families and individuals experiencing a housing crisis, and who are at imminent risk of entering the shelter system.  With increasing unemployment in many of our communities, and the fear of eviction, Grace was invited to share resources, an update on the rent moratorium, and ways the audience could find additional help and information when needed.  On her most recent ‘appearance’ in mid-December, Grace was thrilled to meet the other program guest who was none other than Sandra Lindsay, the critical care nurse and first person in the United States (and New York State) to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As Grace noted, it was an honor to be on this panel with a "she-ro" who was encouraging a sometimes reluctant community to take the vaccine when it becomes available.
CAMBA Is Hiring!
CAMBA offers excellent career opportunities to candidates who are interested in growing with one of New York City's largest multi-service nonprofit providers. Please visit CAMBA.org/careers to learn more about our programs and achievements.