Home Matters: Winter 2020 Newsletter

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Tonya Ores, NHS Brooklyn Executive Director

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

2020 has been a year like no other. It began as a new year usually does: on a hopeful note. Then, before we knew it, our lives were transformed. Suddenly, we were using phrases like “unprecedented” and "the new normal."

Yes, a lot has happened since January—from the coronavirus pandemic to the demand for marginalized voices to be heard to a presidential election. Reflecting on these changes and our work here at NHS Brooklyn, I’m reminded of a quote by Kristina Safran:

"Sometimes knowing when something is not working and pivoting to something new leads to our greatest opportunities and successes."

Since 1982, residents have turned to Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn (NHS Brooklyn) to learn about purchasing a first home, avoiding foreclosure, maintaining their home, landlord and tenant responsibilities, financing, and neighborhood revitalization.

When the pandemic struck, so many experienced financial and, in some cases, personal loss. As the quote underscores, being resilient in uncertain times and flexible enough to adapt to a changing environment became critical. Because our programs became more important than ever, we modified them to address our community's new needs and challenges. In this newsletter, you’ll read how.

We’ll also share our pride in our Housing Counselors, all of whom have now passed the arduous HUD Counseling Certification Exam. In passing this exam, our counselors have demonstrated a professional level of understanding of financial management; property maintenance; the rights and responsibilities of homeowners and tenants; fair housing laws and requirements; housing affordability; rental and mortgage delinquency; and how to avoid eviction and mortgage default. A great accomplishment by the NHS Brooklyn team and an enormous benefit to those we serve.

Our board has also changed. After 13 years of service, Mr. Alfred Payne has passed the baton of Board President to Mr. Serghio Adams, a resident leader who is committed to NHS Brooklyn’s mission. Mr. Payne has greatly impacted NHS Brooklyn’s work in the community and played an integral role in repositioning the organization to be stronger now and in the future. Please join us in thanking Mr. Payne for his contributions and in congratulating Mr. Adams on his new role.

Wishing you all safety, health, and wellness,

A Word from our Board of Directors: We can’t do it without you!

NHS Brooklyn Board of Directors


On behalf of the Board of Directors of NHS Brooklyn, thank you for your support of our mission to assist Brooklyn residents with their housing needs. In spite of the worst pandemic in a century, we continue to offer tenant counseling, home-buyer education, mortgage checkups, foreclosure intervention, home repair assistance, financial coaching, property insurance counseling, landlord training, and other programs.

Although there are no simple solutions in these unpredictable times, NHS Brooklyn is committed to responding to emerging community needs by providing critical housing resources.

Recent business shutdowns along with federal, state, and local government measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 have limited the ability of many tenants and homeowners to earn income. With tenants unable to pay rent and homeowners and small landlords unable to pay their mortgage, they face possible displacement at a time when shelter is of the utmost importance. This reality makes NHS Brooklyn's mission to deliver housing services to local communities more important than ever. Your tax-deductible gift of any size will help us continue our vital services.

Although we’ve been operating remotely since the onset of the pandemic, we have offered over 65 webinars to over 3,000 residents on a variety of housing topics and anyone can reach us by phone, email, via social media, and through our website during normal business hours. We also continue working closely with our partners to advocate for our community, which recently included launching a campaign to encourage funding of affordable housing and foreclosure relief programs.

What Can YOU Do to help?

As you read this newsletter in the comfort of your home, please think of those less fortunate. By supporting NHS Brooklyn, you can help spare your neighbors and their children the trauma of losing the family home or apartment at this crucial time in our lives. Here are three easy ways to donate anytime. Choose the one that's best for you!

Thank you in advance for your support.

Yours in Keeping,

Board of Directors

Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn CDC, Inc.

Serghio Adams, NHS Brooklyn Board President

Meet our New Board President: Serghio Adams

Serghio Adams is the Chief Executive Officer at Brothers’ Building Blocks, a privately held health, wellness, and fitness education company. Serghio founded the company with the mission of providing high school and college students with tools to prepare successfully for their academic futures and for everyone to live healthy lives through a balanced diet and exercise. He is currently repositioning the company to be a national brand offering innovative programming that uses technology to attract, entertain, and educate.

Prior to founding Brothers’ Building Blocks, Serghio led college initiatives for the outreach department for Long Island University, where helped hundreds of high school students to earn up to 30 college credits before applying for higher education. During this time, he spearheaded partnerships with over 100 middle and high schools across Brooklyn to provide a pathway for students to earn college credits that they could leverage in applying for college full time. He was also Assistant Director and then Project Director of the Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP), the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and the Smart Scholars Early College Scholars Program (SSECHS).

Serghio holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Psychology and Communications, and a Master of Arts in Political Science and United Nations Studies from Long Island University.

Help Us Help Your Neighbors this Holiday Season!

Home. The word evokes so many pleasant, loving images, and during these unprecedented times, our homes have become our havensa sanctuary, where we reconnect with ourselves and each other, home school our children, and share a meal.

But it's not that way for everyone. Because of COVID-19, many families are at risk of losing the place they call home. By the end of the year, mortgage moratoriums and renter stays will expire, and some of our neighbors will have to fight to stay in and keep their homes.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on the communities we serve, and they will be the ones who suffer the most. The hard truth is that individuals and families are facing displacement at a time when having a home is critical.

You can help them in their fight by making a meaningful donation to support our work keeping families in their homes and our neighborhoods thriving.

No amount is too small, and every dollar you donate helps to secure a vibrant, stable future for Brooklyn residents and communities.