Tag Archive | "Money"

Bronx Moms Meet Up for Halloween Costume Swap

After spending hundreds of dollars on Halloween costumes in past years, a dozen Throgs Neck mothers participated in a costume swap to economize during an expensive holiday. At the Brew Coffee House on Philip Avenue on the afternoon of Sept. 29, costumes covered tables, plastic pitchforks and scythes filled a basket and a bowl of candy sat near the door. A clown was ready and willing to paint faces. Children ran around and played in the cozy space while their mothers chatted and drank coffee. A Halloween-themed Pandora station played from speakers, filling the coffee house with the sounds of “Thriller” and “The Monster Mash.” Geanine Petraglia, editor and publisher of the Macaroni Kid, an East Bronx blog geared towards local mothers, organized the event with Elizabeth Trempert, owner of Brew. “Costumes are expensive,” Trempert said. “Kids never want to wear the same costume the next year, so every year – it just gets really expensive.” Mothers reported that some costumes they purchased for their children in the past cost more than $50 including accessories and makeup. “So now when you have two and three and four kids and you have to put all of them into a costume that’s almost half a month’s rent, pretty much,” said Trempert. Petraglia recalled purchasing a costume for her three-month-old daughter that ran over $100, only to see it go into storage on Nov. 1. This inspired her to use her blog to bring the mothers of community members together and trade costumes. “I thought there has to be so many other moms out there spending hundreds of dollars on costumes and they’re never seen from again,” she said. Anyone who wanted to participate in the swap could drop off a costume ahead of time, or pay just $5 to enter and grab a costume. Many extra costumes were donated by community members and other local bloggers before the event. Petraglia recalled receiving two large boxes from a friend in Queens. She said she plans to donate any remaining costumes to a Bronx children’s hospital. Trempert said that the holiday is very popular in the suburban neighborhood, and that many houses were already decorated for Halloween. Decorations, costumes and candy can add up to an expensive night for an area where the median income is just over $50,000, according to the 2010 American Community Survey for Community District 10. Christine Destefano, a stay-at-home mom who brought her 5-year-old daughter to the costume swap, was very happy to leave with a new costume. “She got a Tinkerbell costume,” Destefano said. “She’s very excited. We swapped out a clown costume that she wore two years ago.” Rukiya Shannon, a director of college advising at the Bronx Collegiate Academy in the South Bronx, and her 15-month-old son, Ryan, traded in a Native American costume for a tiger costume. She found the costume swap had other benefits besides a new costume. “I got to meet a lot of other moms and families in the area, which I had not met before,” said Shannon. “Again, the event was free, and supports local businesses.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Culture, East Bronx, Multimedia, SlideshowsComments (2)

Renovation program unable to finish projects as funds dwindle

River Park Towers' south building recently got new windows, but the north unit may not be so lucky if funding doesn't come through.(C.J. SINNER/Bronx Ink) Artelia Powell’s brand new-windows do more than keep out a persistent draft as the chilly November air creeps in. For the first time in 10 years, the 41-year-old mother of four can actually see outside. If the River Park Towers resident looks north to the housing complex’s other building, she can also see how lucky she is. Her neighbors must contend with 30-year-old windows, many broken and held together with spidery patterns of masking tape or covered with plastic wrapping. River Park Towers, a dual-building behemoth for nearly 5,000 west Bronx residents, is sandwiched on a sliver of land between the Major Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River. The south tower received new windows, boilers, faucets and other upgrades over the last three months thanks to subsidies from the Weatherization Assistance Program, a federally-funded nonprofit that works to increase energy efficiency in low-income households, but north tower residents may not be as fortunate. The program was able to take on large projects like River Park Towers for the first time when stimulus funds tripled their budget in 2009. Now, the stimulus money is spent and the federal program that feeds weatherization program coffers across the country is facing additional budget cuts. As a result, construction on the north tower, and other subsequent large-scale projects, may not be possible. “Right now, you’d need a crystal ball to figure out what’s going to happen to the lives of a lot of people,” said Fran Fuselli, who has been director of the weatherization program since it began in 1983. Before 2009, the program operated on $2 million a year, Fuselli said. With stimulus funds, the program had $12 million to hire and educate new workers and provide energy efficient upgrades as many dwellings as they could in two years. Two years – that was part of the deal. In that time, the program improved 1,800 homes, Fuselli said. The crowded program office features three whiteboards with charts and lists of addresses. Red check marks note which locations are complete. Before their budget tripled with stimulus funds, they’d been able to do 300 apartments every year and their waiting list was three years long, partially because buildings with hundreds of units – River Park Towers has 1,600 apartments, for example – would have quickly eaten up the annual budget. Fuselli approximated the average cost of weatherizing one home or apartment at $6,500. For both buildings at River Park Towers, she estimated a total bill of around $5 million – more than one third of their entire stimulus allotment. The proposed cuts to the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which funds programs like this in nearly every state – Fuselli’s program is one of three based in the Bronx – would bring their capacity to 150 units a year. Since 2009, the federal program has received $5.1 billion to disperse among municipal weatherization groups nationwide. The 2012 budget proposal would cut 2012 funding in half, to $2.57 billion. Less money also means fewer workers. Fuselli hired and trained 12 additional staff members in 2009, tripling the workforce. Taleigh Smith was hired as an outreach coordinator because of her experience as a community organizer in the South Bronx. She said she’s worried about the 19- and 20-year-olds who were specifically trained for “green jobs” like inspecting homes for inefficiencies. “They got the training, but they didn’t get a career, which is what was supposed to happen,” Smith said. She paused. “I mean, I keep saying ‘they,’ but my job is on the line, too.” Fuselli said she already laid off one person, with several more slated to be let go by the end of the year. As for River Park Towers, Fuselli said they went into the deal knowing they’d only be able to do one building right away, but expected to get money to renovate the second tower from the state government, which was holding a few million dollars for leftover weatherization projects. What she didn’t plan for was a stipulation in eligibility that said the work already had to be underway. By the time Fuselli and her team realized the caveat, she said, it was too late to get started with building inspections, planning and contracting. “We still did it because we figured doing half was better than not doing any,” Fuselli said. “Those people had needs, and it’s an impetus to do the other half. Walking away from all 1,600 units would have been a disservice.” She said they’re looking for other partnerships with Con-Ed and various green jobs initiatives to piece the funds together to finish River Park Towers. Fuselli estimated the total cost to renovate both buildings at roughly $5 million, noting that with complexes this size, the owners commit to paying at least 25 percent of that cost. It winds up being a good deal for landlords, Fuselli said, because they get the upgrades at a fraction of the price, energy costs go down and their tenants’ rent bills don’t go up. Otherwise, landlords can’t afford important fixes without raising rent prices and losing tenants. “In the 70s, you could walk from Southern Boulevard to Crotona and not find an occupied building, all because owners couldn’t get mortgages and they had to triage what they’d spend their money on, and it became abandonment or arson for profit,” the born-and-raised Bronxite said. “I think what people don’t understand is how close we are again to that reality.” Leon Johnson, president of the tenant’s association at River Park Towers, said north tower residents are already upset about the imbalance of the south tower’s 43 floors of perfectly identical, geometric windows and the north tower’s drafty and leaky ones. He said some residents came home after Hurricane Irene to find flooded apartments. Still, he said he’s confident that some form of funding will come through. “Worst case scenario? I can’t even think about it,” he said. “It would be a travesty. We have 1,600 units. It would be a shame to leave 800-plus people out in the cold.”

Posted in Featured, Housing, Northwest BronxComments (0)

When times are tough, it’s goodbye to gold

Attracting gold sellers in the Bronx

Attracting gold sellers in the Bronx Photo: David P. Alexander

Stores usually sell goods, not buy them. But on Southern Boulevard in Hunts Point, commerce is a two-way street. Almost every other storefront window bears a sign declaring, “We Buy Gold.” As the effects of the recession continue, more and more residents of the South Bronx are looking to part with gold jewelry – often precious keepsakes that they’ve treasured for years. With the price of gold rising to $1,395 an ounce, the temptation to sell is strong and local business owners see a new opportunity. “Yes it hurts, it’s hard to get rid of something you really love,” said Longwood resident Evelyn Sanchez , as she shopped on Westchester Avenue. In 2008, Sanchez lost her job of 20 years as a teacher in a special education school. With no health insurance and no work, Sanchez, who suffers from scoliosis, did not have enough money to pay for her treatment. In need of quick cash, she decided to sell a pair of 10-karat gold earrings that were a birthday present from her sister. “I don’t like to give things away, especially if it is a gift from a loved one,” said Sanchez. But she knows she is not the only one looking for sources of extra money. “I see a lot of people selling these days,” she said. With an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent, one of the highest in the nation, Bronx residents like Sanchez are doing whatever they can to get by. In an uncertain economy, gold jewelry is increasingly viewed as an unnecessary commodity in lower income neighborhoods such as Hunts Point and Longwood. In the past, residents might have been buyers – looking for Christmas presents for loved ones. Now, they have become sellers, seduced by the appeal of quick cash. “We usually buy more than $500 of gold a day,” said Lisa Alvarez, 21, a Longwood resident originally from the Dominican Republic. Alvarez rents space in a cell phone store. Her “office” consists of a podium with a scale for weighing gold, a file, and small plastic bottles of solution, which she uses to determine the the amount of karats of the gold she is buying.
Recently purchased jewelry

Recently purchased jewelry Photo: David P. Alexander

Alvarez and her partner Angel, who prefers to go by his first name, stand outside of the store handing out cards, and hoping to attract potential sellers. “It’s because of the neighborhood, people need money right now,” said Alvarez. Also a native of the Dominican Republic, Angel wears a sign on his chest stating, “We buy gold.” He switches back and forth between Spanish and English as people walk past him on the street. A Puerto Rican women walks by, and Angel says to her, “Compramos oro.” A black man walks by and he switches to English, “Ay, we buy gold we buy gold.” Angel lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend and her family. He makes $50 a day, under the table. Because Alvarez is in charge of determining the value of the gold they buy, she earns more: around $70 to 100 a day, all cash. Inside the store, Alvarez scrapes a recently purchased gold ring with her file. She then places a few drops of a clear liquid solution on a small flat stone where she has rubbed the ring. The gold’s reaction confirms its value. “A lot of the time you will scrape it with the file and underneath it’s like silver or something else,” said Alvarez. “Most of the Africans and Indians come in with 22- and 24- karat pieces.” “But most people in the neighborhood, like the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans come in with 14- and 18-karat pieces.” If the gold passes Alvarez’s test, she buys it on the spot, handing over cash. Her boss John, who would not give his full name, is a Palestinian businessman. He says he has identical operations spread throughout the Bronx, with the head office based out of his clothing store “Underground” on Southern Boulevard. John employs 40 people in teams of two, at 20 different locations in the Bronx. The teams work six days a week, from 11 in the morning until 7 at night, pulling gold out of the Bronx as cheaply as possible. Imal, John’s cousin who also preferred not to use his full name, says that as sales at the clothing store went down, his family started exploring other options. “We started selling shoes, hookahs, anything.” Imal is new to buying gold, but says that businesses like his are being forced to think creatively in order to stay afloat. As for the gold itself, “If it works, it works,” said Imal as he smoked a cigarette in front of the clothing store. “ If not, then I will leave it alone.” Before the recession, jewelry stores were the primary buyers of gold in the area. Now, independent gold buyers are moving in and capitalizing on the public’s willingness to trade their gold for cash. Gary Pinero, the manager of Golden Dreams Jewelry, a jewelry store on Southern Boulevard, and feels that independent buyers like John and Imal mislead people on the street. “A lot of people don’t know the value of the gold,” Pinero said through the thick plastic window separating him from his customers. “The only reason they sell is because they hear now is the best time to sell, or because finances are tough.” But he thinks the sellers should be wary of buyers. “They take advantage of those people.” When Pinero started buying and selling gold 15 years ago, it went for $275 an ounce. It’s now $1,396. For many Bronx residents, the decision to sell gold is an easy one. This was the case for Libby Perez, a middle-aged Bronx resident who has sold many pieces of gold jewelry in the past. “I sell gold that I am not going to use,” said Perez nonchalantly. “I prefer the money especially because I am not doing anything with the gold.” The decision to part with his gold assets was more difficult for Terry Kaine, a 23-year-old father, originally from Virginia. “Regret would be the proper word to use,” said Kaine as he sold cologne out of a briefcase on Southern Boulevard. Kaine spoke somberly about a gold necklace that he sold in Virginia when he was only 15. “I wish I hadn’t sold it, so I could pass it on to the next generation. I have a two year-old daughter, and I would have liked to give it to her.” Karina Minaya, a 19-year-old store clerk was attracted to the idea of quick cash for her gold jewelry. “I wasn’t doing nothing with it,” Minaya said about a ring given to her by her grandmother. Minaya said the ring didn’t even fit. “It’s always a good time to sell gold if you are not using it.” But is it really a good time to sell? Donald Davis, a Columbia University economics professor, says the gold market is tricky. “Anyone who tells you they know where the price of gold is going is a fool or a shill,” said Davis. Davis cites the 12.5 unemployment rate in the Bronx as another strong reason people opt to sell their gold. “Gold sales may also be driven by desperation. If we had a crystal ball that told us where the economy will go, then we would have a much better guess about where the price of gold will go. But we don't.” But on the street, all that really matters is getting cash when you need it. For gold buyers such as Imal, a high price per ounce on gold means more business. For gold sellers like Sanchez, it ultimately means getting out of a tight situation. Fortunately, she is now getting disability payments from Social Security, which means she has enough money to pay for her scoliosis medicine without having to sell any more jewelry. At least for now.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Money, Southern BronxComments (0)

Increase 
in 
remittances 
to
 Mexico
 slows 
down
 as the recession continues

The increase in remittances to Mexico that started in April 2010 has slowed down

The increase in remittances to Mexico that started in April 2010 has slowed down. Photo by Irasema Romero

Adrian Dominguez has not yet met his newborn son, Diego. He moved to New York City from Guerrero, Mexico, six months ago with the goal of saving money for his new family. Dominguez, a college graduate with a degree in information technology, now works 60 hours a week as busboy in a restaurant on the Upper East Side. As part of his weekly routine, he visits Western Union on West 231st Street in the Bronx to send money to his wife. His weekly contributions add up to $600 to $700 a month. The amount of money Mexican immigrants like Dominguez send to Mexico increased by 9.32 percent in August 2010, compared to the previous year as reported by Banco de Mexico, the country’s central bank. But that upward trend in remittances has slowed. According to BBVA Research, dollar remittances to Mexico decreased in September by 1.6 percent from the previous month. Remittances to Mexico exceeded $5.5 million, 4.6 percent less than the previous 2010 quarter, but with a three-point increase from the same quarter in 2009. The report suggests that although remittances began to increase in April 2010, the recovery will be “slow and perhaps volatile” depending on the U.S. employment rate for Mexican immigrants. “According to the data compiled by the comptroller’s office, the unemployment rate among Hispanics in the third quarter was 13.3 percent, the highest since the recession began,” said Juan Luis Ordaz Díaz, senior economist at BBVA Research. Hispanics in the city experience higher unemployment compared to the national rates among this ethnic group, even when New York City has a lower unemployment rate than the U.S. average. Ordaz Diaz said that although the U.S. economy may add jobs for the holiday season, BBVA doesn’t expect remittances to increase by more that two percent in the fourth quarter. In order to continue providing for their families in Mexico, workers in the U.S. are finding ways to keep their own living expenses low. To save money for his family, Dominguez lives with his brother in the Bronx and eats at the restaurant where he works. With a daily two-hour commute to work, he says he does not have time to be a tourist. “You don’t have time to do other things, so you’re not going around spending money,” Dominguez said of his experience saving money for his family. For every $100 Dominguez sends in cash through Western Union, he pays a $5 fee. His wife has free access to the money the next morning when she picks it up at Elektra, a Mexican retail store that works with Western Union to conduct money transfers. Aside from Elektra, which boasts of over 1,000 stores throughout the country, Mexican families may receive money sent to them through Western Union at Mexican national banks like Banco Azteca and Banamex or grocery store chains like H-E-B and Comercial Mexicana. Dominguez said that he plans returns to Mexico permanently in the next four to six months, but he hopes the money he is sending now will help with the medical expenses from the birth of his son. “Unfortunately Mexico does not provide us with the opportunities we would like,” Dominguez said.  “If the jobs were well paid, we wouldn’t have to go through a lot of these things.” Dominguez said the entry-level jobs available in his home state do not pay enough for his family to live comfortably. Besides subsidizing the basic needs of families in Mexico, remittances are used to cover education costs, buy property or create businesses, according to Darryl McLeod, an economics professor at Fordham University who has studied the trends associated with remittances. He said although there were major decreases in remittances during 2008 and 2009, Mexican families are now receiving more pesos to the dollar. Today, the peso is approximately $12.50 to the dollar, when in 2008 it was $10.59. BBVA Research predicts the process of disinflation that started in April 2010 will continue in the coming 2011 quarters, allowing for less than four percent in core inflation, compared to the 6.5 percent experienced in October 2008. “Even if they sent six percent less remittances, it buys more pesos,” McLeod said. “They’ve had a little bit of inflation, but not that much. They were able to make the dollar go further.” But that isn’t much of a comfort to Marisela Castillo, who has lived in New York City for 25 years, and continues to feel the need to send extra money to her widowed mother in Mexico City. She and her siblings send around $500 to $800 a month to their mother because they all feel an obligation to make sure all of her monthly cost are covered, she said. “It may be almost nothing, but we are always sending money,” Castillo says of her effort to send money to Mexico. “If you don’t help them, who will?”

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Money, Northwest BronxComments (0)

Bronx Men Arrested With 1,925 Cartons of Untaxed Cigarettes

Today, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced the arrest of four men who were accused of possessing 1,925 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and more than 36,800 counterfeit tax stamps. Counterfeit tax stamps are used to disguise untaxed cigarettes, which can then be sold for full price in stores at a higher profit margin. The cigarettes and tax stamps were found by Tax Department investigators during searches of an apartment, two vehicles and a rented garage. Three of the men who were arrested; Khader Awawdeh, Hakim Al-Saydi, and Dhafer Ghaleb, were charged with first degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, attempt to evade tax, possession of counterfeit stamps and unlawful possession of untaxed cigarettes. The fourth man, Fahmi Hassan, was charged with first degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Awawdeh, Al-Saydi, Hassan, and Ghaleb are next due to appear in court on June 17. Brad Maione, a spokesman for the Department of Taxation and Finance, said, "The presumption was that they would probably attempt to sell them at some point, but we were able to interdict them and prevent that sale." Maione said the men "likely" got the cigarettes from an Indian reservation upstate or on Long Island. Maione said reservations are "a significant source of untaxed cigarettes." Maione wouldn't disclose how the stash of illegal smokes was discovered, but he did say that Tax Department agents do "regular surveillance around the Indian reservations in Long Island and upstate New York" to identify individuals who are "buying hundreds of cartons." No one picked up the phone at the addresses of Awadeh, Al-Saydi and Hassan. Ghaleb's home address is a store called Grocery Westchester, at 1781 Westchester Ave. in the Bronx. A man who answered the phone at Grocery Westchester hung up when asked about the arrests.

Posted in Bronx Beats, CrimeComments (0)

Gains in National Job Figures Don’t Mean Bronx Resurgence

Gains in National Job Figures Don’t Mean Bronx Resurgence

Bronx residents line up outside a Workforce 1 job center in February. (Zabaneh/Bronx Ink)
Bronx residents lined up outside a Workforce 1 job center in February. (Zabaneh/Bronx Ink)
Story by Shreeya Sinha, Lynsey Chutel and Sunil Joshi While the national jobs figure for March indicated that the country is on the path to economic recovery, the employment picture in the Bronx was not so sanguine. Unemployment in the borough remains several points above the national average, and thousands of residents are still unable to find work. For more coverage of Bronx job hunters, click here. Above the bustling business hub of 149th Street and Third Avenue, rows of almost 50 people sat on Thursday in a cordoned-off waiting room in the Workforce 1 office, looking for help from the Bronx branch of the citywide employment agency. This was Veronica Eaddy’s second time at the “one-stop employment center.” With a soft round face under thick waves, in a casual jeans and T-shirt, Eaddy, who asked that her full name not be used, doesn’t look her age at 42. But the string of jobs she has tried her hand at reveal a long struggle with unemployment. “I’ve been through many systems where a job has been promised and nothing happened,” Eaddy said. Nationwide, there may be reason for optimism after the jobs report revealed that the depressed economy may be turning around. The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Friday that 162,000 jobs were added to the national economy, though the nationwide unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent. But an increase in the national jobs number does not necessarily correlate to an increase in the number of jobs in the Bronx, said James Brown, an analyst with the New York Department of Labor. “There’s not a one-for-one increase,” he said. For Bronx job-seekers like Eaddy, economic struggles are still festering. “You pretty much need a master’s degree to pick up the garbage,” said Eaddy, who feels that living in the Bronx has been a disadvantage for her. She’s spent the last seven years looking for a full-time job. Unemployment in the borough soared to 14 percent in January, well above the national average. Hunger and poverty are stark realities in the borough that is already struggling to compete with a higher-skilled workforce. "That doesn't bode well for the Bronx, which has a pretty high percentage of the local workforce that doesn’t have high levels of educational attainment," said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, a research firm. About half of Bronxites work outside the borough, Brown said. Many of these jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors are not only low-paying but largely dependent on consumer spending, which has sunk deeply in the recession. Analysts are hopeful that consumers will grudgingly start spending. Consumer spending picked up for the sixth month running in March. “A lot of establishments are closing,’’ Eaddy said. “There aren’t many jobs that you could get if you come straight off school, like low-skilled jobs. And most of them can be pretty crap.” Arthur Merlino, manager of Workforce 1, has worked in the labor market for 48 years, crisscrossing labor offices across the city’s five boroughs. After two years managing the Bronx branch, he admits that the borough poses a specific challenge. “This is a real serious time,” said Merlino, his eyes closing as he spoke. “I’d say, experientially it’s been a very difficult couple of years.” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has made economic development and job creation a priority but critics have accused him of costing the Bronx thousands of jobs at a mall he opposed at the Kingsbridge Armory. Diaz opposed the project on the grounds that it would not provide Bronxites living wages. The City Council voted against the mall. Franck Strongbow, associate director of the James Monroe Senior Center agreed with Diaz. After he spent eight months living “between a rock and a hard place,” Strongbow lived paycheck to paycheck when he was 25 years old trying to make ends meet. For him, a job is all about dignity. “What the borough president was saying was, “Let's start with affordable living range because people should be paying an honest day's labor.” According to the Center for Urban Future, 42 percent of the Bronx workforce is making less than $10 an hour. The payroll company Automatic Data Processing said this week that U.S. employers cut 23,000 jobs in March, dampening expected forecasts ahead of Friday’s job report. Much of the nationwide growth in March was in temporary government jobs, particularly by the Census Bureau, which hired 48,000 temporary employees, according to the Department of Labor, including enough staff for four Census offices in the Bronx. Elsewhere, there are signs of life in the borough’s jobs market. A coalition of construction workers in the Bronx said it has seen employment opportunities tick upward in March, with more activity on job sites. While the overall number of new building permits issued in the Bronx during the first three months of the year is down from 2009 — 44 to 18 — there were eight new building permits issued in the Bronx in March (up from four last year), according to the Department of Buildings. Richard Rodriguez, an administrator for United Hispanic Construction, said that his labor coalition was able to connect more workers with jobs in March, particularly with a new development on 163rd Street in Morrisania. Despite the real-estate market’s more than two-year struggle, prices in Manhattan remain high, fueling new development in the outer boroughs, said Ken Margolies, director of organizing programs at the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations. But while Margolies noted the signs of improvement, he cautioned against unbridled optimism. “The key thing about the news,” he said, “is that, by and large, the new jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that are being lost.” The manufacturing sector is another industry that saw accelerated growth in March, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group. In February about 11,000 jobs were created, the largest increase in almost four years. Other sectors like health care have also done well, especially after President Obama’s health care plan passed. In March, 27,000 new health care jobs were added to the national economy, according to the Department of Labor. That’s where Eaddy hopes to try her luck. She’s optimistic that the health care reform will revitalize jobs in this sector. “Since there was such a push going on in public health, I think that a lot of jobs are going to start that I want to get into while the getting in is good,” she said. Eaddy is trying to secure a voucher from the New York State Department of Labor that will cover a six-month-long Medical Billing and Coding course at Hostos Community College. Waving a manila folder on Thursday, with the college brochure inside, she checked that she had all her documentation. She had been waiting for move than an hour for her 4 p.m. appointment. While she waits for a steady job, Eaddy decided to start her own business. “Splendidly Me,” a cosmetic business that she runs out of her East 180th Street apartment, supplements her income. When she is not teaching customers how to make coconut oil or twist their hair, Eaddy is pinning her long-term hopes on the health care industry. “Now I have to come back,” she said, “but this time I’m doing something smart with a marketable skill so that I can have some leverage.”

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