News & Events

Event

Golf Tournament Proceeds Reach An All Time High!

The 27th Annual PECO MEAF Golf Tournament held on October 9th was a huge success—raising a record $56,000+ for PECO’s Matching Energy Assistance Program (MEAF).

Taking place on October 9th, the event drew nearly 128 golfers, who enjoyed a beautiful rain-free day of golf on the autumn-colored hills of McCall Golf Club in Upper Darby.

The Matching Energy Assistance Fund is PECO’s vehicle for assisting low-income families throughout the Greater Philadelphia area who need assistance paying their electric bills.  PECO matches all program funds dollar for dollar for each grant that is made, doubling the impact.  As a result, the $56,000 raised from the golf tournament became $112,000 for families in need.

Local agencies receiving these funds for the families they serve include the Bucks County Opportunity Council, the Community Action Agency of Delaware County, the Community Action Development Commission of Montgomery County, Mason-Dixon Cares, and UESF.

A special thanks to the event’s major sponsors, including CMC Energy, Burns & McDonnell, Sargent & Lundy and Asplundh.

   

Event

Where is UESF in February?

If you need help with application assistance, come visit UESF at any of these locations during the month of February

For full service, you’ll need these documents:

  1. Income for last 30 days (award letters need to be current, pensions don’t need to be current if still receiving)
  2. Current utility bill or shut-off notice
  3. Social security card (for everyone in the household)
  4. Identification (must have a picture)

 

Blog

Lunching with Landlords: How UESF Builds Trust for Community Stability 

The city of Philadelphia has a shortage of affordable housing units in Philadelphia –88% of people with incomes of less than $30,000 are cost-burdened, according to Pew Charitable Trust, far more than other major cities. But what we know at UESF is that even when a tenant finds an apartment, we also need to build community trust, so that landlords, tenants, and neighbors can have positive interactions, and maintain stable relationships across time. This trust, in the end, is what makes for a healthy and sustainable community. 

That’s why we are extra proud of our landlord network –now 360 landlords strong. Since 2016, UESF has partnered with landlords on rental and utility assistance for low-income tenants. We help ease the financial risk for landlords by channeling assistance funds and working as a partner in the landlord-tenant relationship. Our goal is create community with landlords and tenants, in order to solve problems before they start. Then, even when rental assistance runs out, tenants are more likely to remain as tenants. And with stable and safe housing in a familiar neighborhood, people can build back their lives. 

One special landlord is Ms. Clara Glenn. “She is very patient,” says UESF Certified Housing Inspector Dorothy Owens. “She works so well to get UESF participants into housing, whether it’s a room, a one-bedroom, or whatever they need. She trusts UESF so that even when the tenant has no money to put down, she knows she’ll get paid by us in time. She has even reduced her rates so that once the assistance ends, the tenant can still afford the rent. She tries to keep all her places filled with veterans coming through UESF.” 

The landlord network serves a variety of households, but mostly veterans through our SSVF program. We have housed over 1750 veterans in safe, comfortable homes all across Philadelphia, nearly always within 45 days of a veteran coming to us. 

On March 31, we were excited to again host the semiannual Landlord Luncheon. 45 people came to enjoy food and fellowship with our staff and community partners. Patricia King, Manager of Community Engagement at PECO, spoke about usage reduction services and special rental assistance made available by federal Covid-19 stimulus funds. Nancy Giacomini of the Eviction Diversion Program of the City of Philadelphia discussed how to work with the city. And Landlord Deanna Miller spoke about the landlord perspective on mediation. 

If you are a landlord interested in partnering with us, reach out to Ms. Dorothy Owens at dorothyowens@uesfacts.org. 

 

Blog

Taking It to the Streets: UESF on the Move

The pandemic changed office life for everyone.  

But what does office life have to do with getting out of poverty? 

A lot. At UESF, the pandemic has taught us that the office model of providing assistance was not user-friendly. Every day, our whole staff came to work in our Center City office, and our program participants came to us there too, often taking long journeys on public transportation. 

During the pandemic shutdowns, we learned how to work virtually. But that’s not a permanent solution. 

So UESF is not simply going back to the office model. Instead, we are doing something totally new: going to people where they are. 

When we do that, people get help in ways they never imagined.  

“UESF on the Move” is what we call our new way of doing business. It started when Barbara King of Oak Street Health asked if we could come out to their medical office in West Philadelphia. Our team learned how to put together all the elements of a field office, with materials, computers, and trained staff wearing UESF blue. We reach out to people who are coming for medical appointments to talk with them about their needs and go from there. Since January, we have been steadily serving more people each time, going to more offices around the city. We helped 66 people at our latest event. We got utilities restored, LIHEAP grant applications submitted, and enrollments in CAP and CRP programs.  

Here is one example. Ms. Bradley came in to ask about a property tax rebate. UESF was able to help her with it right away. Then, we talked more about her financial health, and we discovered that she could get help with her electric bill as well.  

It’s like running into a friend who’s an auto mechanic. If you mention a strange noise, your friend can do more than just address the noise. You can talk about the whole car experience and learn what else could be going on. There’s more trust and that leads to more possibility. 

Program Director Keysha Abad explains, “Our goal is to create a one-stop shop: you shouldn’t have to give a name and number and wait to hear back. So, when we meet a person, we are screening for everything…finding out the household income, and if the house has veterans or children in school, and what programs people may already be in, like SNAP or SSI. We help people get their tax rebates. We eliminate the extra step of calling the utility to find out about eligibility for their assistance programs. 

“Ms. Bradley was thankful the event was there within her community, because she could quickly run home to get a document, she needed without making two trips downtown. It was the first time she ever had the tax rebate. She had been missing out on this money for years because she didn’t know how to tap into a service to help her apply. Now she knows that every February she can apply, and she knows she can always turn to us.” 

Our on-the-road events with Oak Street Health and other organizations are just one example of how UESF is strategically partnering with organizations to achieve collective impact on poverty. Our first goal is to show low-income people that we are on their side: we care enough to come out and meet you wherever you happen to be. By doing that, we work towards our larger goal of shared prosperity. Working utilities are good for residents but also good for the utility companies. And people living in safe and secure homes is good for all of us. 

 

Blog

Housing and Children First

Children are disproportionately hurt by poverty: it limits their chance to grow up without fear or limitations. So we at UESF are strategic about making sure that our housing-first opportunities reach children and their families. That is why we created our Division of Youth and Family. Our purpose is to work with families who already know what they need to make their lives better. We come in as advocates to help families to get those things. 

We are very excited about our newest initiative at the Alexander K. McClure Elementary School in the Hunting Park neighborhood. UESF family advocates are working with families at The McClure School to increase school success, addressing the challenges of family income, education, employment, community safety, and social supports. As immediate challenges are addressed, families will grow in their ability to make healthy decisions, attain high quality medical care and housing, and manage stress. And in turn, kids will thrive in school and go on to flourish in life. 

The program is part of the Community Schools program of the Office of Children and Families in the Mayor’s Office of the City of Philadelphia. It’s exciting to be partnering with the city and other organizations in our common dream of a poverty-free city. 

We are building on our success with the Family Empowerment Program (FEP), funded by the Siemer Institute for Family Stability through the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. UESF has addressed intergenerational poverty for over 600 families with children in the Philadelphia School District.  UESF continues to add holistic supports to the UESF Division of Youth and Family, such as the United Way’s funded College Savings Account program.  

Division Director Syreeta Stanley puts it this way. “Families have a lot of resilience that never gets seen. Our job is to shine a light on that resilience and help them build on their strengths. What’s going great? Once we have that to build on, it’s ok to say ‘I don’t know what to do’ about paying the rent or getting food or clothes, and then plan ways to address that. Parents who aren’t stressed out about money-related problems are good for kids. So step by step, let’s make sure that family is okay now and then make more plans to help things get even better. Our job is to be a confidant, to provide that space of peace, confidentially. Then through their own resilience they’re making things happen.” 

For more information, contact Syreeta Stanley at syreetastanley@uesfacts.org, 215.814.6830 or visit UESF’s website at https://uesfacts.org/our-programs. 

Event

UESF attends Mayoral Luncheon

We spotted Councilwoman Helen Gym at the 2022 Mayoral Luncheon hosted by Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, we just had to take a picture!

News

UESF supported Right to Counsel

UESF was behind the scenes in getting Right to Counsel passed. This is great news for Philadelphians and we’ll keep working to make eviction a thing of the past.”

https://whyy.org/articles/philly-right-to-counsel-program-renters-facing-eviction/?utm_campaign=Broke%20in%20Philly%20Weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Revue%20newsletter
Event

Virtual Utility Fair

Virtual Utility Fair coming Wednesday Evenings & Select Saturdays in February & March!

RSVP to select your date + time ➡https://water.phila.gov/utility-fairs

If you need assistance right away, please click on UESF’s contact form at https://www.tfaforms.com/4884398 and a member from our team will reach out to you.