Emergency Fund for Distressed I-House Residents

How would you feel if you were asked to leave your home with a week notice in the middle of a global pandemic ?

 
On March 19th 2020, amid the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 500 residents of I-House’s South building were required to vacate their rooms within 8 days, due to potential exposure to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19.  

This has left residents in a dire situation, given that:

1.    The majority of the residents have nowhere to go in New York City with a virus escalating in Manhattan and beyond. A large portion of I-House residents moved to the United States from overseas, and consider I-House their only home and refuge in this foreign country.

2.    This sudden instruction has created an impending sense of eviction and possible homelessness, that has left residents feeling emotionally, physically and financially drained.

3.    The option to travel to their home countries is not viable, due to international travel bans, restrictions and persistent global health advisories against spreading the virus. As a result, residents are faced with unfortunate and extremely high relocation costs. For most, leaving I-House has entailed paying for exorbitant flights home or accepting inflated rents to move into apartments on short notice.

Residents have to make the tough choice to either stay away from their families during this unprecedented time, or jeopardise their futures in the US by leaving without knowing if they can return to their universities and jobs.

Our answer: 

The I-House NYC alumni community is committed to helping residents impacted by the current situation at I-House. We have circulated a financial help request form among impacted residents. In a week, we have received ~47 requests from financial distressed residents summing up to ~$50 000.

These include:

-       Supporting students in fragile financial situations 

-       Helping pay for last minute international flights

-      Helping pay for alternative housing options (e.g., sublet, AirBnB)

-       Moving and shipping costs

-       Compensating the loss of I-House financial help or fellowships.

Please help residents and contribute to our emergency fund. Funds collected will be entirely redistributed to distressed residents as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: This effort is coordinated by alumni that deeply love our community (including two former Resident Council presidents) and is not routed through I-House administration. We will share the list of recipients with the I-House administration and will ensure that this will be a transparent process of redistribution on our part. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have!

 
Additional information on the current situation at I-House:

https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-student-died-international-house-20200322-kioxmkckczg4xnia6ljrrkdgem-story.html 

https://www.westsiderag.com/2020/03/22/coronavirus-death-in-graduate-student-housing-near-columbia-frightens-community-residents-have-to-quickly-leave 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/panic-ny-int-dorm-orders-students-covid-19-lockdown-200326171116516.html 

I24 News live (in French) - https://twitter.com/i24NEWS_FR/status/1243415803229130752 


Additional details on the alumni emergency fund initiative's approach:

+ We have circulated our form for financial help on social media and emails an received 47 requests for financial help from residents impacted by the crisis

+ We assembled a diverse selection committee of 10 volunteer alumni from different years of graduation to ensure fair distribution, inclusivity, and layers of discussion

+ We put together a detailed methodology and need assessment framework

+ All applications were reviewed in subcommittee and then in general committee based off information provided by applicants. 75% of applicants were interviewed by subcommittees of 2 alumni to gather more information.

+ after 6+ hours of general committee discussion we selected 19 residents that present urgent needs with help ranging from $300 to $2000. We asked each recipient to sign a form confirming the amount received and how they are going to use it

+ We are now in the process of disbursing our funds: the funds will be withdrawn on Vassily Carantino’s personal bank account and this account will also be used to fund recipients. We will of course keep track of all receipts and signed confirmation forms for accountability, and the funds raised will be entirely distributed to the residents.

+ Pending recipients’ agreement, we will be sharing the list of recipients with I-House administration once this process is over

Donations

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Fundraising team: IHouse Alumni (2)

Alumni Community of I-House NYC 
Organizer
Raised $6,309 from 56 donations
New York, NY
Cameron Vanderscoff 
Team member

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