A Rocky Beginning
Since 2017, the Raritan Bay Area YMCA has been working collaboratively with trusted partners from varying sectors in an effort to introduce new policies and practices regarding safe and healthy housing in Perth Amboy. Recently, the RBA YMCA secured funding from NJHCN to ensure that the community is involved as much as possible in decision making, especially those who are most affected by unsafe and unhealthy housing. Our plan involved door-to-door outreach using a “Trusted Voices” approach during the summer of 2020, and an educational campaign throughout 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raritan Bay Area YMCA has closed its doors to the public until further notice. Activities planned for this project would now be considered extremely irresponsible. However, the YMCA must continue this effort as it is an election year and it is best to adopt equitable policies and practices before there is a chance of having a new administration. We are hoping it will be safe to go out into the community by June so we can carry out our project as planned. We understand that times are unpredictable, however, and therefore created an alternative plan:
Instead of having an in-person training, the outreach workers will be trained virtually using Zoom. By July, If it is still unsafe to conduct door-to-door work, the outreach workers will be conducting telephone calls. We will utilize a randomized sample of local telephone numbers to ensure that the city is represented accurately. To supplement this work, we will create a Healthy Housing Assessment questionnaire that residents can take virtually. All residents taking the phone or online questionnaire will have a chance of winning a prize. Continually, the Housing Outreach Workers will also utilize YMCA social media outlets to share resources and updates regarding new policies and local government practices that will possibly be adopted. The Outreach Workers will secure access to resources such as Carbon Monoxide detectors and post tutorials on proper installation and maintenance. Perth Amboy residents can ask questions through the “Chat” feature of social media platforms.
We are hoping and praying this crisis will come to an end soon, and that we can continue with our original plan as an effort to not only educate about healthy housing but also work to become a community again after doors were closed for so long. We are inspired by our fellow grantees, who face the same challenges and continue to push forward for their community.
About the Grantee
Since 1912, the RARITAN BAY AREA YMCA has provided services, programming, and activities for the residents of Perth Amboy, NJ and neighboring communities. The YMCA is dedicated to building strong kids, strong families, and strong communities through programs that develop the values of caring, honesty, faith, respect, and responsibility. The YMCA serves all people regardless of age, religion, sex,