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Mount Vernon Homeless Agency Launches Gift Card Initiative

Community Housing Innovations's executive director Alexander Roberts, fifth from left, stands with other members of the Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition, including Dennis Hanratty, executive director of Mount Vernon United Tenants, far right.
Community Housing Innovations's executive director Alexander Roberts, fifth from left, stands with other members of the Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition, including Dennis Hanratty, executive director of Mount Vernon United Tenants, far right. Photo Credit: chigrants.org

MOUNT VERNON, CONN. -- In an effort to ease their transition from shelters and emergency apartments to permanent housing, one local agency has found a unique way to help the homeless in Mount Vernon -- and elsewhere in the region.

Community Housing Innovations, which operates dozens of emergency housing apartments in the city, has launched an initiative which, it said, will allow the public to directly purchase Bed Bath & Beyond® gift cards for homeless families in Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Nassau, and Suffolk counties.

Since most people are in emergency housing due to eviction or foreclosure, they often have very little to their names, said Alexander Roberts, CHI’s executive director.

Roberts said CHI provides housing for 1,000 homeless people -- primarily single mothers and children -- each night in shelters and emergency apartments.

Finding an affordable, permanent home takes an average of four months, he said.

While counties provide the bare essentials such as beds, dining tables, and couches, Roberts said, the gift cards will allow homeless families and individuals to buy linens, blankets, pillows, and housewares – the kind of things that turn a house or apartment into a home.

“No family should have to spend the holidays in a homeless shelter, yet thousands of low-income New York individuals and families find themselves in that situation,” he said.

Roberts said the agency’s goal is to provide a $100 gift card to each family when they find permanent housing. But, he added, the public “may donate whatever amount they like.”

The gift cards can be purchased by calling a special toll-free number 1-844-52-I-CARE.

Donors will receive an acknowledgment of their contribution for tax purposes.

The agency has offices in White Plains in Westchester; in Patchogue in Suffolk; and in Hempstead in Nassau.

For more information about CHI, click here .

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