After the birth of his son in 2009, Roderick B. left his long-time job at a New York City agency to work in property management. Then one day while out bowling with friends, he was injured in an accident that kept him home-bound and recovering through much of 2012. For the first time, Roderick was forced to accept government assistance to support his family.
“It was not a good feeling to have to do that,” said Roderick, who lives with his wife and young son in the Bronx.
As his injury healed, his father encouraged him to apply to Per Scholas, a nonprofit that trains low-income individuals for jobs in the technology field.
“I wanted a career change and my father was telling me to start thinking about the job I would need for the future,” said Roderick, who has a year and a half of college credits.
He was accepted into Per Scholas in the fall of 2013. “Great staff, great curriculum," he said. "It’s fast-paced and full-time, so you have to sacrifice.” He worked hard and excelled, landing internships with JP Morgan, Barclays and Fordham University Law School. “I needed something where I could expedite success. By the second day, we were already taking computers apart. You had to be serious.’”
“It was awesome not to have to worry about my commute anymore."
However, halfway through the program, his unemployment benefits ran out, putting a severe strain on his budget. He spoke to his Per Scholas career advisor and was put in touch with CSS's Income Support Services, which, as part of our partnership with the New York Times Neediest Cases, provided him with $142 in Metro cards.
“It was awesome not to have to worry about my commute anymore,” he said. “And I take my son to karate, to school, to after-school programs. That’s four to six subway or bus trips a day, easy.”
He graduated from Per Scholas in April 2014 and was quickly hired by a network security firm. “I am learning so much. We’re a small company with global clients. The work is very challenging and you’re always putting out fires. But I work with great people. It feels good to be doing something with a future.”
Asked his opinion on a proposed MTA fare hike and calls for reduced fares for low-income riders, Roderick said: “It’s really important to be able to get around New York City. Just living here costs more than other places. There should be some exemptions or concessions for individuals below a certain income threshold.”
In a recent CSS survey, 83% of low-income New Yorkers voiced support for a half-price subway and bus fare to help low-wage workers.
Add your voice! Tell the MTA it’s time to give the working poor a break.