Before and After Gallery
To develop new residences, supportive housing providers often rehabilitate abandoned buildings and build on empty lots. This practice, born partly out of economic necessity, has led to safer, revitalized and more attractive communities across New York (as well as increased property values). Below, you'll find several real-life examples of buildings, streets and neighborhoods turned around because of supportive housing development.
BRC: The Glass Factory
In 1999, the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) fully renovated the Glass Factory in the East Village as 45 units of supportive housing for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, all of whom have access to a full range of support services, including those available through BRC’s continuum of 27 programs. The Glass Factory was designed by Harden Van Arnam Architects and named for the building’s use in the 1940’s. In 2002, the Glass factory was the recipient of the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and was part of the National Building Museum’s exhibition Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset.
Jericho Project: Fordham Village
Jericho Project was the first organization in New York City to open supportive housing for a mix of homeless and low-income veterans. Present at the building's opening was Dr. Roscoe Brown, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American World War II military aviators. Also attending the opening was Col. David Sutherland, Gulf War veteran and Special Assistant for Warrior and Family Support to the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who gave a stirring address that repeated the part of the military code most applicable to the importance of funding veteran supportive housing: "I will never leave a fallen comrade."
Fifth Avenue Committee: 575 Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), a 35-year-old community organization dedicated to improving the lives of low- and moderate-income people living in South Brooklyn, partnered with Center for Urban Community Services to turn a municipal parking lot into 48 efficiency apartments for a mix of low-income people from the community and formerly homeless people with disabilities. Like many developments, the project met with sometimes vehement opposition from community members. But FAC staff and allies worked patiently and persistently with neighbors to address and assuage their concerns, eventually winning the necessary support to move forward. In fact, one of the leaders of the opposition actually spoke publicly on behalf of the project!
Community Access: Gouverneur Court
Community Access gut renovated this dilapidated former hospital on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into quality supportive housing for 123 people in 1994. The striking facade’s rounded corners -- visible from the nearby FDR Drive -- were originally designed to prevent the spread of disease. The residence features a fountain named after early funder Brooke Astor.
Gouverneur Court received the Fannie Mae Foundation Maxwell Award for Excellence for Special Needs Housing in 1995 and the Preservation League of New York State award for Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation in 1995.
Common Ground: The Prince George
Common Ground gut renovated the Prince George Hotel on East 28th Street into 416 units of supportive housing for a mix of homeless and low-income individuals, reopening the building in 1999. The Prince George was one of New York City's premier hotels when it first opened at the turn of the century. Decades later, it became one of the city's worst single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in the '70s and among its most infamous "welfare hotels" in the '80s. Now restored to its former glory, the Prince George features a 5,000-foot historically rehabbed Grand Ballroom as well as a Ladies Tea Room (both available for rental), and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Project Renewal: The Holland Hotel/Geffner House
The Holland Hotel has seen many incarnations since it was built in 1918. Initially an elegant residence off Times Square, it had deteriorated by the '80s into a seedy SRO hotel that the city leased from a slumlord to house homeless families. In the 90s, as part of its dual mission to reclaim affordable housing stock and create housing for homeless New Yorkers, the City sold the Holland Hotel to Project Renewal, who gut rehabbed the building and reopened it in 1995 as 307 units of supportive housing for a mix of low-income and formerly homeless individuals coping with disabilities. As seen above, the Holland's renaissance sparked development on the block, and what was once a lonely island is now surrounded by even taller market-rate apartment buildings. The Holland was renamed Geffner House in 2010 in honor of the organizations long-time executive director, Ed Geffner.
Lantern Group: Cedars/Fox Hall
What is now Cedars/Fox Hall started life in 1848 as a family mansion on a 71-acre estate in the Longwood section of the Bronx. After the land around it was sold and developed, the mansion was turned into a clubhouse (with a bowling alley) and in 1940 into a recreation center that the Police Athletic League used until the building quite literally fell apart. The Lantern Group purchased the property, and, with the help of Urban Architectural Iniatives, built a new 95-unit residence while preserving the historic facade. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the first LEED Gold certified affordable and supportive housing project in New York City, with geothermal heating and cooling.
West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing: Euclid Hall
When Euclid Hall first opened its doors in 1903, it was the height of sophisticated living on the Upper West Side. But by 1990, the building had become among the City's largest Single Room Occupancy housing complexes, housing of last resort for more than 500 very poor New Yorkers including those coping with untreated mental illness and addiction. After a singularly unpleasant NIMBY battle, the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing rehabilitated the building into 292 apartments for a mix of formerly homeless and low-income seniors. The New York Times returned to the building's opponents a year after the building's 1995 opening to see whether their fears about supportive housing -- and the people who lived there -- had proven true.
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty: Abraham Residence II
After Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty successfully rehabilitated a run-down SRO into supportive housing in 1991 (the Abraham Residence), residents of Seagate, the gated community at the tip of Coney Island, asked the group to do the same for this falling-down seaside hotel. Abraham Residence II now provides supportive housing to 41 formerly homeless and low-income individuals at the very edge of Coney Island. Abraham I and II are possibly the only supportive housing residences to be built within a gated community.
Pratt Area Community Council: Gibb Mansion
Built in 1850 and known as the "House on the Hill," the Gibb Mansion has had many incarnations: as Hopewell Home for Orphans, as an elegant hotel and as a disintegrating "short stay" hotel. In 1998, New York City sold what was left of the buidling to Pratt Area Community Council, which historically rehabilitated the facade and turned it into 71 units of supportive housing for low-income and formerly homeless individuals coping with disabilitites. NY1 covered the building's opening in 2002.
Goddard Riverside Community Center: Corner House
When Goddard Riverside Community Center acquired Corner House in 1997, the building was an abandoned drug den and its neighborhood a hotspot of gang activity, including shootings. Goddard rehabilitated the building itself into 34 apartments: 20 for individuals who had been homeless and struggled with mental illness and 14 for low-income seniors. Then, Goddard (and especially Director Georgiette Morgan Thomas) began rehabilitating the neighborhood. The organization planted trees, worked with the police to minimize dealing on Edgecombe Avenue and began building a community in the building and among neighbors. Today, Edgecombe closes during summer months and is a playstreet -- Corner House residents provide free breakfasts to area children, and every Christmas Corner House hosts a tree-lighting ceremony on the corner.
Lower East Side Service Center: Pencer House
This striking Gothic Revival-style structure, built in 1890, was designed for the Children's Aid Society by Calvert Vaux, whose works include the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park. In 2000, it was reopened as Pencer House -- permanent housing for 40 homeless people with disabilities -- by the Lower East Side Service Center. Originally, neighbors attempted to prevent the rehabilitation, but, since it opened, the building and tenants have become a vital part of the community.