The Supportive Housing Network of New York is proud to be partnered with a coalition of housing advocates, for-profit and non-profit developers, tenant advocates and labor union stakeholders to urge lawmakers for revisions of New York’s rent laws during the 2019 state legislative session.
The current regulations are set to expire on June 15, 2019 and will impact 2.5 million New Yorkers living in rent-stabilized housing. The coalition includes Enterprise Community Partners, Legal Aid Society, New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), New York Housing Conference, Community Service Society, AARP New York, Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, DC37, Coalition for the Homeless, VOCAL-NY, Center for NYC Neighborhoods, LISC NYC, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), LeadingAge New York, LiveOn NY, Housing Rights Initiative and Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State and the Network.
The coalition is calling on state leaders to enact the following reforms to New York’s rent laws during the 2019 legislative session:
End High-Rent Vacancy Decontrol
This pathway toward deregulation, which has only been a feature of rent regulation since 1994, has encouraged the use of both lawful and unlawful means to increase rents past the deregulation threshold of $2,733 per month. These means frequently entail harassment and fraud and have resulted in displacement of long-term tenants from their homes. This year, the rent laws must be restored to their original promise by ending deregulation.
Restore Preferential Rent Protection
The State should return the rent laws to their pre-2003 form and no longer permit landlords to revoke a preferential rent upon lease renewal. Tenants with preferential rents must no longer fear the loss of their homes due to rent increases beyond those allowed under Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) rules.
Reform the Vacancy Allowance, Major Capital Improvements (MCI), and Individual Apartment Improvements (IAI)
The State should reform the provisions governing the Vacancy Allowance and Major Capital Improvement and Individual Apartment Improvement increases in a way that reduces excessive rent hikes but ensures that owners can provide safe and decent housing. Taken together, these provisions produce an exponential impact on regulated rents, creating significant financial incentives for tenant turnover, resulting in displacement.
“The Supportive Housing Network wholeheartedly endorses this coalition’s recommendations regarding reforming the City’s rent regulations,” said Laura Mascuch of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “The unprecedented loss of truly affordable housing over the last twenty years has led to unprecedented levels of homelessness in New York City – more than 60,000 New Yorkers are homeless right now. We look to the newly constituted legislature to address this pressing issue as its first order of business.”
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.” –Activist, writer, public speaker, actor, Laverne Cox
In recognition of Transgender Awareness Week, the Supportive Housing Network of New York upholds the humanity and dignity of transgender and gender non-conforming communities. It is particularly timely, as the Trump administration’s recent memo seeks to legally define sex as a biological and immutable definition under Title IX. In an effort to delegitimize the existence of transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex (TGNCI) people, this new definition will undo federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, rolling back long-fought protections and posing increased risk for discrimination and erasure of TGNCI communities. With this drastic effort to reverse protections, the Network stands with the millions of TGNCI people in America, as well as coalitions of LGBTQ advocates and allies across New York, affirming our commitment to the safety and resilience of TGNCI people as central to our mission to end homelessness.
In the current political climate, our work must lead with the voices of people living in the margins. We know that TGNCI communities experience housing instability and homelessness at highly disproportional rates, further exacerbating the risk of experiencing hate violence, sexual violence and intimate partner violence.
The Network will continue to support and advocate for the dignity and rights of TGNCI staff and tenants in the supportive housing community. This includes naming and addressing the barriers that TGNCI communities continue to face in accessing housing, mental health services, and all other forms of support. We oppose all efforts to alter or erase long-fought protections for TGNCI people, as bias against some of our community is a direct attack on our movement and vision for a more just world.
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Friends and supporters gathered October 18 to celebrate the opening of 88-90 Carroll Street in downtown Binghamton. This newest development will provide permanent supportive housing for 10 formerly homeless individuals and families, including several who have high medical needs.
“Individuals and families that come here are faced with problems, and housing is usually the first step in addressing those problems," said Mark Silvanic, CEO of Opportunities for Broome.
Dana Greenberg and Jason Harper represented NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) at the ribbon cutting and Binghamton Mayor Rich David was also in attendance to celebrate this opening with the community.
A tenant, Alonzo Harper spoke about the impact having an apartment and working with Opportunities had had on his life: “I landed another job..I actually have a better relationship with my children because I get to see them more often because I have a place… and (the people at Opportunities for Broome) have given me faith in other people. I didn’t think that anybody would fight for anybody out here.”
The building is a three story brick structure near several Opportunities redevelopment sites and offers comprehensive social services to tenants.
The project is funded by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) under the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP). Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative funds the services for the 10 supportive housing units. Patricia Every was the architect and WL Kline was the contractor for this project.| What's New, New York State, Member News, Openings
The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) approved capital funding for eleven supportive housing projects, totaling $41 million during its first meeting of the fiscal year. About two thirds of the annual available HHAP allocation is now committed, due to the unprecedented demand for supportive housing projects, fueled in large part by the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). Over $75 million in requests are lined up for the remaining $22 million in HHAP, making it probable that these funds will be exhausted by the next meeting in December.
Nine of the eleven projects that recieved this funding have already secured ESSHI grants and ten of the eleven awards were won by Network members. These projects will provide supportive housing for 276 individuals and families struggling with a wide range of life challenges that resulted in their homelessness. This includes trauma experienced by veterans as well as people escaping domestic violence. These awards cover the state from Niagara County in the west to Suffolk County in the East.
Here is the list of awardees:
St. Catherine's Center for Children, Inc., Albany County - $5.6 million
20 permanent supportive housing units
Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc., Albany County - $2.5 million
10 units of permanent supportive housing
Albany Housing Coalition, Albany County - $1.8 million
9 units of permanent supportive housing
New Destiny Housing Corporation, Bronx County - $5.7 million
37 units of permanent supportive housing
Unique People Services, Inc., Bronx County - $5.5 million
55 units of permanent supportive housing
CAMBA Housing Ventures, Bronx County - $7.5 million
87 units of permanent supportive housing
Odyssey House, New York County - $1.6 million
15 units of permanent supportive
YWCA of Niagara Frontier Inc., Niagara County - $1.4 million
8 units of permanent supportive housing
Finger Lakes United Cerebral Palsy, Inc., Ontario County - $1.9 million
9 units of permanent supportive housing
Mercy Haven, Suffolk County - $3.2 million
8 units of permanent supportive
Lakeview Health Service, Inc., Tompkins County - $3.7 million
18 units of permanent supportive housing
Congratulations to all the awardees!
Some 70 friends and supporters gathered September 14th to celebrate the opening of The Bridge’s new Melrose Commons residence in the Melrose section of the Bronx. Hosted by The Bridge’s Board Chair Cynthia Wainwright and CEO Susan Wiviott, the gathering included electeds as well as representatives from the City, the State and the private sector, tenants and Bridge staff. Melrose Commons will provide permanent supportive housing for 58 formerly homeless individuals with mental health conditions.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. kicked off the festivities by noting that, in addition to Melrose Commons’ transforming tenants' lives, the beautiful new building is contributing to the neighborhood’s revitalization. “I grew up here and I remember playing in the rubble”, said Mr. Diaz. He congratulated all the partners on the project and took time to hug Robert Tandy, the Melrose Commons tenant who spoke at the opening. The Borough President had previously shown support for the project by allocating $600,000 in funding.
State Senator Luis Sepulveda also grew up in the Melrose area and remarked on the positive changes. He also congratulated all involved in the project: “I salute The Bridge for bringing this impressive residence and its services to those in need. I wish I could provide more like it.”
HDC’s Eric Enderlin, HPD’s Molly Park and OTDA’s Dana Greenberg also spoke, noting the amount of time (EIGHT YEARS!) and effort that had gone into the project. Capital One’s Desiree Francis (a Bronx native as well) and CSH’s Maygen Moore participated.
As always, the star of the program was Robert Tandy, a tenant of Melrose Commons. Robert has struggled for many years on the streets and recently moved into The Bridge’s Safe Haven in the Bronx where, for the first time in many years, he felt safe. When Melrose opened, he was ready to consider leaving transitional housing for his own fully furnished studio apartment in a new building offering permanent supportive housing.
The building features a green roof, a large outdoor recreational space that features a garden, a ping pong table, and comfortable seating; a common space with a communal kitchen for cooking classes (using produce from the garden); and a conference room/training center. Comprehensive on-site services (including case management and 24/7 front desk coverage) are funded by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Funding for the building was provided by NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC), NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), LIHTC, NYS Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. National Equity Fund was the syndicator and Capital One the tax credit investor. Predevelopment funds were provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Citibank and Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The Bridge was awarded the property, which was deeded by the City for $1, through a competitive RFP process. The architect was Magnusson Architecture and Planning and the contractor was the J. Pilla Group.| What's New, Openings
On October 1st, the Network convened a panel on the NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative. A full audience of 85 of our nonprofit, corporate, and affiliate members, and government partners attended the panel entitled: NYC 15/15 in 2018: Development & Program Updates, presented by Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Assistant Commissioner, Special Needs Housing Emily Lehman, Human Resources Administration (HRA) Acting Deputy Commissioner, Office of Supportive/Affordable Housing & Services Jennifer Kelly, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Senior Director, Housing Bureau, Gail Wolsk,. Attendees learned about the roles and coordination of the City agencies, the progress on the plan so far, and other valuable information about service models and development.
Jennifer Kelly of HRA emphasized the tremendous progress made so far in the ramp-up of the program, with service awards made for almost 2,700 units. In order to continue the progress, Ms. Kelly underscored the importance of providers taking the time to think about the questions in the RFP and how their program can take advantage of the unprecedented resources available to address the requirements.
Gail Wolsk of DOHMH explained the importance of integrating evidence-based and –informed practices in creating service models. She focused on how the enhanced resources available through NYC 15/15 can truly create a supportive housing program that has a holistic and, in the case of programs serving families, whole-family focus. Ms. Wolsk also explained best practices for program evaluation and staffing, and how property management staff and providers should collaborate. The audience learned about creating a service model that truly fulfills the goals of the ambitious NYC 15/15 initiative.
Emily Lehman of HPD guided the audience through the congregate development process and various HPD capital programs available to fund supportive housing units. Ms. Lehman explained the creation and success of HPD’s groundbreaking city-funded project-based rental assistance for NYC 15/15. The audience gained knowledge of how the capital process, services application, and rental assistance application all tie together, and how to best set up a team’s internal processes and timing.
For more information, access the PowerPoint from the event here. The Network looks forward to hosting more events as part of our Capacity Building Initiative as we strive to meet the development goals of the NYC 15/15 program and the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) and get to 35k!
We are very grateful to Robin Hood for hosting this event in their offices and to our terrific presenters!| What's New, Funding, New York City
As we celebrate our history, it only seems fitting that we also take a moment to honor a dear friend of mine that has helped transition this organization from its modest beginnings to what we are today!
Under Raj Hosein’s leadership, the Network has grown from five staff to 11, from a $500,000 organization to a $2 million organization and from 70 members to over 200 members today.
And while each of those benchmarks are impressive, they don’t truly describe who Raj is, or what she has contributed to the Network and our community over the past 17 years.
To those that know Raj, you might describe her as very detail oriented, someone with only the highest of standards, the person that keeps the trains running. She knows what needs to be done - and she does it – always well and always with pride.
But for me and the Network, she is so much more than that. She’s someone who can be relied upon for the smallest of tasks and the largest of tasks. She’s the person that donates her own money to give a personal gift to the Tenants of the Year at the Network’s Gala each year. And she’s always there to listen, to think through a problem and come up with a solution.
She’s not just the backbone of this organization, but the heart and soul that has made us who we are today.
That’s why I’m honored to present Raj with the Distinguished Service Award. After nearly two decades with us, as Director of Finance & Administration, she’s retiring at the end of the year. It’s bittersweet to see her go and I honestly can’t imagine us without her.
BUT, we’re very happy and excited for her and her husband Al. We wish them a wonderful retirement and bright future ahead.|
We are so proud of all that we have accomplished together and hope you enjoyed looking back at all our collective successes and stories of innovation in these last 30 years.
The mood was festive as 600 friends and colleagues came together to revive old friendships and forge new ones at Capitale. The night was also dedicated to a few outstanding individuals who have been advocates and change agents for the supportive housing community.
Network Board Chair and Breaking Ground President & CEO Brenda Rosen welcomed the crowd, and introduced the Network’s Executive Director, Laura Mascuch, who expressed her heartfelt thanks to the Network’s Board, staff and the community for all their support.
The night’s festivities continued with our awards ceremony. Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen presented the Government Partner of the Year to Maria Torres-Springer, congratulating the Network for its 30 years of advocacy and praising Maria for her commitment and dedication to supportive housing and ending homelessness in New York City.
We also celebrated the legacy of Bill Traylor, our longtime board member and a fierce advocate for supportive housing, with the Network Legacy Award. The former Executive Director of the Network, Ted Houghton, presented this award, introducing Bill as, “an artist who has helped shaped supportive housing.”
As always, we presented two outstanding tenants with Tenants of the Year Award. Stephen Bates from Soundview Apartments and Buddy Jones from the Prince George were honored this year for their tenacity and strength to overcome tremendous hardships and rebuild their lives in supportive housing.
Last but not the least, we honored Raj Hosein, the Network’s Director of Finance and Administration with the Distinguished Service Award for her 17 years of service to the organization.
“She’s not just the backbone of the organization but she is the heart and soul of it,” said Laura Mascuch while presenting the award to Raj.
The night ended with some more networking and cocktails. We would again like to thank all our sponsors for their continued support of the Network.
Buddy Jones’ entire childhood and young adulthood were rife with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of multiple family members.
Not surprisingly, fifty-year-old Buddy struggled through most of his life, grappling with his sense of self and battling substance abuse, self-harm, and other risky behaviors. He survived multiple suicide attempts, as well as institutionalization, rehab stints, more sexual assault, and homelessness. Buddy could not maintain stable housing and was in a state of perpetual crisis. He had to find a place of safety.
In 2013, things began to change once Buddy moved into Breaking Ground’s Prince George, where services are provided by Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). At first completely isolated, he gradually began attending meetings at New York City’s LGBT Center. In 2015, he came out as transgender and worked with his case manager to obtain a legal name change. Feeling motivated, Buddy also enrolled in CUCS’ Career Network Program, and now works at the Board of Elections every year. He also was able to land his dream job last summer—a seasonal shift at Mets Stadium, the home of his most beloved team.
During his time at the Prince George, Buddy has developed positive relationships with other tenants helping with errands and walking their dogs and has reconnected with old friends. Program Director Shaun Adams states, “Each year he’s become more himself. He inspires each of us by his example of how to live an authentic life.” Clinical Supervisor Muriel Radocchio reflects, “Buddy reminds us that feeling safe enough to take the risks associated with change is often the most important service supportive housing provides.” Today, Buddy has maintained his sobriety for many years and has not engaged in self-harm since moving into the building. He takes great pride in his impeccably clean apartment, which he shares with his loving cat Miranda.
During the past year, Buddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer and started chemotherapy treatment. Unwilling to let the diagnosis slow his stride, Buddy is committed to his health and maintains his treatment with an upbeat outlook, inspiring tenants and staff with his resilience. CUCS Clinical supervisor Michael Embrey remarks, “His resilience is outstanding. He continues to show amazing growth and perseverance despite what life throws at him and has been facing new challenges with a smile on his face.” For this, we are honored to recognize Buddy Jones as Tenant of the Year.
Watch Buddy Jones in our tenants of the year video below.|
Everyone who knows Stephen Bates is moved to tears by his story. He struggled with undiagnosed psychiatric issues from a very young age, issues that manifested as severe behavioral problems including stealing and skipping school. One of seven children, he was too much for his single mother to handle and she sent him to a group home when he was 14. He ran away and continued to act out, burglarizing homes, doing drugs, and stealing from his family. His mother threw him out of the house and he became homeless. He landed in Spofford Juvenile Jail not long after, the beginning of what would be twenty-two years of imprisonment.
It was during those two decades that Stephen heard from his sister that their mother was gravely ill. Stephen was allowed to leave prison to visit her at the hospital. This visit, and his mother’s passing a few days later, changed everything; Stephen “made a promise to my mother, to myself and to God” to turn his life around.
When Stephen was finally released, he was able to start making good on that promise, first seeking out psychiatric treatment from Manhattan Psychiatric Center and later moving into Odyssey House’s Soundview Residence in 2014. Says Administrative Assistant and Entitlement Specialist Monica Tracey, “Odyssey House was truly blessed to have been graced with his presence…he is an amazing individual with a heart of gold.”
Since moving to Soundview, Stephen has focused his life on giving back. He volunteers at the Presbyterian Church across the street, pays for food at community gatherings, makes goody bags for local children, acts as DJ at summer barbecues, helps keep up the residence garden, and uses his thirst for knowledge to help residents with advice on a range of issues. Says neighbor Vivian Jackson. “He’s a good friend. If I feel upset or depressed sometimes, I go talk to him. And he does cookouts and we all meet to eat, dance and laugh. It’s very special.”
Not long after moving in, Stephen met the woman whom he has asked to marry him, Lynette Childs, who, showing off her engagement ring states simply: “He makes me the happiest person ever.”
Insisting that he does not want to be a “taker,” Stephen also got off SSI and holds down a job as a Home Health Aide. He is proud of his achievements, demonstrating how far he has grown from his younger days of hustling on the streets.
For overcoming a life of institutionalization, mental health challenges, and addiction, we are delighted to honor Stephen Bates as the 2018 Tenant of the Year.
Watch Stephen Bates talk about his life in the video below.|