• Many Renters Who Face Eviction Owe Less Than $600
    December 13, 2019

    Among the millions of recent eviction cases researchers have begun to compile across the country, there are a startling number of modest sums. There are dozens of families in Texas evicted with money judgments — unpaid rent, late fees, court costs — totaling $516. There are multiple families in Cumberland County, N.C., who owed all of $301. There is a household in Providence, R.I., whose 2016 court record shows a debt of just $127. Such relatively small sums suggest that, for all of the intractable problems of poverty and affordable housing driving the nation’s eviction crisis, a little intervention could help many people. And politicians in Washington increasingly have such ideas in mind: court translators, more legal aid, mediation — even emergency rent assistance.

  • NYC Has a Family Homelessness Crisis. Who are the Families?
    December 13, 2019

    “We just don’t know when or where we’ll have to move,” [Rosa Maria] Febo says. “I don’t know where we’ll go. Every day I text my worker with anxiety [asking] ‘Anything yet, anything yet?'” That chronic uncertainty is the hallmark of homelessness in New York City, where families with children, like the Febos, make up nearly three-quarters of the population in the city’s municipal shelter system. Tens of thousands of other families live in temporary and precarious situations — sleeping on in-laws’ couches, shuffling between friends’ floors or staying with mom’s partner in apartments where their names do not appear on the lease. A lack of affordable housing is the main driver of homelessness in the city, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. At a staggering scale, and with a profound impact on city life, the affordable housing crunch has exacerbated issues like domestic violence and fueled a crisis that disproportionately affects families of color headed by single mothers across New York City.

  • Hunger on campus: The fight against student food insecurity
    December 5, 2019

    While most Americans will be grateful for second and third helpings this Thanksgiving, there's one surprising group who struggle to find a first helping every day: students at some of the nation's top universities. “I can’t go to the grocery store to buy breakfast because if I use this money I’m not going to be able to use it for something else like dinner or lunch,” said Damian Hernandez, 24, who graduated from Columbia University earlier this year. Hernandez, who is from Chicago, was one of thousands of students who are considered food insecure, meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, or if it’s coming at all. With the high cost of tuition, living and meal plans, food insecurity on college campuses poses a real threat to student livelihood, especially those who are low income and lack access to government assistance programs. Researchers from Temple University surveyed 86,000 students from over 100 institutions, primarily at public universities and community colleges, and 17 percent said they had been homeless within the past year while 45 percent said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days.

  • November 26, 2019

    On November 18, 2019 Gerstner Philanthropies hosted the first convening of its Helping Hands grantees. Representatives from all 28 grantee organizations gathered to share best practices, discuss and plan how to better tell the story of the program’s impact, and brainstorm new programs and ideas for advancing emergency grantmaking. “As a new grantee, this was very productive and helpful. I appreciate the approach to grantee input,” shared one participant in an anonymous follow-up survey. The event built community among Helping Hands organizations and offered the opportunity to network and collaborate. “We made some great connections with colleagues in Palm Beach and New York and are looking forward to follow-up conversations with them about our in-great-demand public schools prevention program,” said Larry Seamans, President of FamilyAid Boston. Gerstner Philanthropies looks forward supporting and to partnering with its Helping Hands grantees and implementing new ideas generated from the convening.

  • Gerstner Award Program Supports Novel ADHD Research
    November 26, 2019

    A unique scholarship award program at Massachusetts General Hospital is helping advance the understanding and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – the most common neurobehavioral disorder in children. The Louis V. Gerstner III Research Scholar Award Program was founded in 2014 to support early-career physician-scientists interested in pursuing new ideas related to this pervasive and often misunderstood disease. Now in its fifth year, the program honors the memory of Louis V. Gerstner III, former president of the Gerstner Family Foundation, and a tireless advocate for education and child welfare, who passed away in 2013. Over the last two decades, research has led to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, as well as a deeper understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that play a role in its development. In spite of the progress however, children with ADHD are still more likely to incur serious injury and suffer from learning disabilities and mood disorders. They are also at higher risk of developing substance use disorders. “To make a difference for this patient population, we need a greater understanding of ADHD and the role it plays in related conditions like substance use disorder – and that demands more research,” says Amy Yule, MD, one of two inaugural Gerstner Scholars in 2014 and medical director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service (ARMS) at Mass General. “The Gerstner Scholars Program recognizes the importance of launching independent investigators in this field.”