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Showing Posts by Date: 12/2016

Prayer Vigil for Homeless New Yorkers Who Passed Away in 2016


Peter Cook, Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches, speaking to the press, flanked by Kevin O'Connor, Director of Joseph's House.

On December 21st, faith leaders held a prayer vigil outside the Senate chambers at the state capitol in Albany to honor the memories of homeless New Yorkers who died in 2016, part of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Kevin O’Connor, Director of Joseph’s House in Troy, read the names of homeless individuals who passed away over the past year. “The average life expectancy of a person who is homeless in America is 52 years of age,” O’Conner said. “That’s 26 years younger than those who are housed.”

Faith leaders used the moment to call on Governor Cuomo to uphold his nearly year-old promise to create 20,000 homes for the most vulnerable homeless New Yorkers over the next fifteen years and release funds to pay for the first 6,000 homes. Peter Cook, Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches, led the delegation.

There are now 88,000 homeless people in New York State.

Press coverage of the event:

TWC News
North Country Public Radio
NYS News
State of Politics
Albany Times-Union

| In the Media, What's New, New York State

Press Conference Announces Task Force Recommendations for Mayor’s NYC 15/15 Initiative


On December 12th, the Mayor’s Office held a press conference at Breaking Ground’s The Schermerhorn announcing the recommendations of the Supportive Housing Task Force and awards to 11 organizations to provide 550 new scattered site supportive housing units as part of the NYC 15/15 Initiative, his commitment to creating 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next fifteen years.

Council Member Steve Levin said "Supportive housing is the linchpin in addressing homelessness among those with the most challenges,” He also took the opportunity to exhort other communities to embrace new supportive housing residences saying “I could not be more proud to have The Schermerhorn in my district -- it has transformed this community and I hope to have many more residences like it in the future.”

Department of Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks presented both the recommendations and the awards. The recommendations distill the six months of work by more than 28 experts in the field to identify issues in key aspects of supportive housing, including the referral process, development, and delivery of services.

“The collective expertise of this group has provided invaluable insights into how to better serve the most vulnerable in our city.” Also introducing the recommendations was Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch who co-chaired the task force with Commissioners Banks and HPD Commissioner Vicki Been.

The contracts to develop the 505 supportive housing units were awarded to Breaking Ground; Bridging Access to Care, Inc.; CAMBA Inc.; Odyssey House, Inc.; Federation of Organizations; Jericho Project; Unique People Services, Inc.; Faces NY, Inc.; Iris House; Urban Pathways, Inc.; and Institute for Community Living, Inc.

The populations targeted for these units are chronically homeless single adults and adult families who have a serious mental illness or substance use disorder, including those who may have a co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorder.

“We are delighted to see progress being made toward realizing the Mayor's promise of creating 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years,” said Ms. Mascuch. “The recommendations released today reflect the best thinking of the supportive housing community, including nonprofit providers, government partners, and researchers. These recommendations will help the City design the next generation of what has been the most promising intervention yet developed to help the neediest New Yorkers live in dignity in our communities.”

The Task Force spent six months assessing the current state of programs and providing innovative solutions to improve development and service delivery, streamline processes, and better tailor services to the needs of supportive housing residents.

Among the recommendations issued by the Task Force are:

  • Target units to three broad populations – adults, families, and youth – and incorporate a vulnerability index that will allow the City to identify and prioritize supportive housing to target those most in need.
  • Implement a holistic family approach to deliver comprehensive services to the entire family.
  • Create supportive housing options for youth that are not time limited and use the Moving On model to help young adults transition to independent housing.

For a copy of the report click here.

| In the Media, What's New, New York City

Gary Hattem Departs Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation


Gary Hattem – a leading light in the affordable and supportive housing world for decades -- is retiring as President of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation at the end of the year. Mr. Hattem, was responsible for the firm’s corporate social responsibility activities in  the Americas region, Deutsche Bank’s social finance activities globally and established the Community Development Finance Group in 1990. More than $2.5 billion has been deployed through these activities in the U.S., and the international work has led to over $300 million in funds under management.

Mr. Hattem inaugurated or was a lead funder in a number of game-changing innovations. Under his leadership, Deutsche Bank launched the DB SHARE (Supportive Housing Acquisition and Rehabilitation Effort) program, which provides funding to providers to cover the early costs of supportive housing development. In its nearly 20 year history, DB Share has supported the creation of over 7,000 units and the latest round of awards will support an additional 1,500 units in the coming years. Mr. Hattem also led the creation of what is now the Change Capital Fund, a collaborative of foundations and most of New York City’s banks to support community development organizations in NYC; the NYC Housing and Recovery Donors Collaborative, to support low-income communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy; and led funder support of other initiatives like the Joint Ownership Entity Initiative and the Gateway Housing Demonstration Initiative.

Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Gary Hattem helped found Astella Development Corporation in Coney Island and was Executive Director of the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation.

John Kimble, Deutsche Bank’s Vice President for Philanthropic Initiatives, said "Gary has devoted his life and considerable talents to investing in the well-being and success of the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. It has been a tremendous honor to work with and learn from a person of such passion, intelligence, integrity, and commitment to build a more just, equitable, and inclusive society."

Marc Jahr, the principal of Community Development Futures, LLC, said, “For 25 years, Gary has been instrumental in harnessing Deutsche Bank's capital to a sensitive understanding of the needs of the City's communities and nonprofits. He has been one the Nation's great social entrepreneurs, whose immense creativity has been matched by his extraordinary ambition. ‎ His presence at Deutsche Bank will be deeply missed.”

Laura Jervis, founder of West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, said “Emerging from the grassroots neighborhood development world, Gary’s astounding achievements in the heady worlds of philanthropy and finance can be traced directly to the values and integrity he demonstrated leading the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation (now St. Nick’s Alliance) in its earliest days. Always putting the needs of neighborhood people first whether relating to housing, work, economic development, or child care, St. Nick’s became the model for the community development movement.  When he joined Deutsche Bank, his neighborhood became the entire world.  The programs initiated under his watch all start at the grassroots, from micro-finance lending to self-expression in the arts to cleaning up water in villages, he is both a thought leader and an activist for improving the lives of low income people everywhere.  For us in the New York City nonprofit affordable and supportive housing world his innovative multi-year grant/loan programs have deepened our capacity and increased our production of housing beyond measure.  Always generous with advice and encouragement, we will continue to rely on his wisdom and friendship.  What a mensch!”

| What's New, Member News

Finger Lakes Rural Initiative Housing Project Opens


One of the new buildings in the Finger Lakes Rural Initiative Housing Project.

As testament to the fact that supportive housing comes in all sizes and fits into any neighborhood, the Finger Lakes Area Counselling and Recovery Agency (FLACRA) opened four residences in four counties for individuals struggling with homelessness and substance abuse. The four buildings, located across the Finger Lakes region, will provide eight permanent homes for homeless individuals with a disabling condition and 14 transitional units for people in recovery from substance use.

FLACRA’s Executive Director Marty Teller said “We are proud to bring these beautiful renovated sites to these great neighborhoods for individuals so deserving in their journey through recovery to independence.”

The two day travelling ribbon cutting on November 17th and 18th included Commissioner Samuel Roberts from New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; Robert Kent, from the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services; Assembly Member Robert Oaks; New York State Senator-elect Pam Helming; county commissioners of social services, county directors of community services, and other municipal officials. Chief Counsel Kent said, “These are great things in the midst of an unbelievable epidemic of heroin and opiate abuse. Agencies like FLACRA are on the front lines of this fight.”

The projects were built with capital from the Homeless Housing Assistance Program and the Federal Home Loan Bank, and a loan from CSH. Services for the supportive housing units are funded by OTDA’s NYSSHP program.

The contractor on the project was Hamilton Stern. The architect was TAB Design. The consultant was KLR Consulting.

| What's New, New York State, Openings

Notes from Excluded


On October 27th, the Fortune Society, John Jay College’s Prison Re-entry Institute, the Network, and CSH hosted a conference on the obstacles people with criminal justice involvement face trying to access safe, affordable housing and promising practices as to how to overcome them.  The sold-out event attracted a deeply engaged audience of 250 people. The Fortune Society’s Stanley Richards, the first formerly incarcerated individual appointed by the City Council to be a member of the NYC Board of Corrections, acted as the host for the day.

The day began with an in-depth conversation about the fundamental values and vision that drive  policy related to providing housing and services  to justice-involved people. Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director of the Citizens Housing Planning Council, spoke eloquently about the essential connection between decent housing and personal well-being.  Ana Oliveira, President of the New York Women’s Foundation, forcefully declared that housing is a human right, fundamental to a person’s dignity and ability to achieve one’s full potential. Anthony Thompson, Professor of Criminal Law at NYU law School, spoke powerfully about the importance of valuing the concept of redemption in creating housing policy for justice involved individuals. This opening conversation was facilitated by Ann Jacobs from PRI.

Other panels focused on the barriers justice-involved individuals face  accessing housing as well as promising practices in New York and around the country for addressing those impediments. Panelists in the five subject-specific discussions included experts from  advocacy organizations including the Osborne Association, the Vera Institute, and MFY Legal Services; housing providers including the Fortune Society, Housing + Solutions, and Greenhope Services for Women; government agencies including the City’s Human Resources Administration, the State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the NYS Council on Community Re-entry and Reintegration, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the Kings County DA’s Office; as well as research and academic institutions including the Urban Institute and NYU’s Furman Center; as well as, panelists with lived experience. One of the highlights of the panel on translating values into action was civil rights attorney John Relman discussing progress on the Fortune Society’s groundbreaking litigation challenging  blanket bans on housing applicants with criminal justice histories. He also spoke eloquently about the role that historical racism has played in mass incarceration policies.

The Network’s Laura Mascuch moderated a panel discussion on successful models for addressing the housing and service needs of justice-involved people from New York and around the country. As part of that panel, Jocelyn Fontaine from the Urban Institute spoke of an  innovative program in Ohio in which the Corrections Department is funding supportive housing for disabled homeless individuals exiting prison.

The conference included a series of mini “TED Talks” about several innovative programs and promising practices which included NYCHA’s Family Re-entry Pilot Program, the FUSE initiative, the City’s Justice Involved Supportive Housing (JISH) and Drew House, the nation’s alternative to incarceration program for women with children. Other highlights included Yolanda Johnson-Perkin’s spirited presentation on the NYCHA pilot and Rita Zimmer, Executive Director of Housing + Solutions, tossing “Get out of Jail Free” cards from the Monopoly game to illustrate the importance of providing people with alternatives to incarceration.

There are plans to release a report based on the conference, which the Network will share with our members upon publication.

| What's New, Research, Network Events

A Letter to Our Members from Executive Director Laura Mascuch on the Post-Election Landscape


Here at the Network, we remain very concerned by the uncertainty surrounding housing and homelessness policy in the aftermath of the presidential election. The records and proposals of President-Elect Donald Trump along with the Congressional leadership poses numerous risks and challenges to the public private cooperation that has allowed our supportive housing stock to flourish in New York State. This supportive housing has stabilized tens of thousands of homeless people’s lives and restored their ability to live with dignity. We, like so many of you, are anxious about the future.

We are, however, buoyed by the fact that we live and work in New York, one of the most progressive states in the union. Our state and local elected leaders stand firmly behind laws and policies protecting the rights of all and are staunch advocates of the supportive housing model that has provided homeless people with hope for regaining a foothold in society. Not only was supportive housing born here, but  thanks to consistent leadership and support  --  there is more supportive housing here than anywhere else in the world. This model has consistently had bi-partisan support for its proven success in saving lives, saving money and improving communities.

One of the model’s strengths is skillfully blending a myriad of state, federal, local and private resources. However, this aspect of the model opens up new challenges in a political and economic climate that is suddenly in flux. In this environment, we will need your help to ensure that all vital resources remain intact, including HUD programs like McKinney-Vento, Section 8 and HOME and major drivers of private investment like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and tax exempt bonds. We must redouble our partnerships with you and with local and national allies, as well as form new alliances to strengthen our efforts. Rest assured we will be reaching out with specific requests for action on the federal level as the political events unfold.

We have no illusions:  we will face enormous challenges to our work in the coming years. But it has never been easy. Our community’s determination and commitment is a source of constant inspiration to all of us here at the Network. We commit to being strategic and thoughtful about asking for your help as we go forward together. We will continue to fight relentlessly for you and the people whose lives you transform every day.  

If you have thoughts you would like to share, please email me.

| In the Media, What's New, Federal