The Network initiated the first ever supportive housing conference in 2000 to gather the supportive housing community with the goal of sharing and learning about the world of supportive housing. Our New York State Supportive Housing Conference is now the largest supportive housing conference in the nation with over 1700 guests who hear from more than a 100 experts, innovators and leaders in the field. The conference is also a celebration of our community’s successes and innovations. Check out the video above for highlights of our guests and speakers over the past 18 years.
The workshop also explored the homelessness landscape from a racial equity lens. It provided the audience with the historical context of how racism has led to minorities being over represented in the homeless population today.
Workshop 2: Tools to implement anti-racist policies at your agency
The second workshops by Marc Dones centers around providing the audience with tools and strategies that can transform systems to better serve the needs of the most vulnerable populations. They spoke about the importance of specificity in equity-based work and having diversity at the decision making tables.
The 18th Annual Supportive Housing Conference was a celebration of New York’s unique leadership in development, financing and social services in supportive housing. With over 1,700 registrants, 22 workshops and a keynote by acclaimed author and poet, Jacqueline Woodson, it was our most successful conference yet!
The day began with the Network’s Board Chair Brenda Rosen welcoming the crowd. The Network’s Executive Director Laura Mascuch thanked the supportive housing community for setting the example for what supportive housing can do to break the cycle of homelessness. She recognized the social staff and shared their stories of dedication and transformation with the audience.
“I want to take this moment in time to speak about the staff who work in supportive housing day-in and day-out. Many of you are in the room today, you are the reason why transformation can happen in individual lives,” she said.
Our keynote speaker for the event, Jacqueline Woodson moved the crowd to tears with her reading of Each Kindness and talking about empathy and kindness and what it means for homeless people to not be seen. She applauded attendees for their dedication and hard work in providing a helping hand to those most in need.
Eight simultaneous workshops in the morning session followed the keynote. The highly popular “Addressing the Homelessness & Affordable Housing Crisis” panel included key city and state policy makers: Steven Banks, NYC Department of Social Services Commissioner; Barbara Guinn, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)’s Executive Deputy Commissioner; Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) Commissioner; Maria Torres-Springer, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner; RuthAnne Visnauskas, NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner and CEO, and moderated by the Network’s Laura Mascuch.
The morning also included a standing-room-only presentation by Marc Dones, a prominent anti-racist trainer and educator. Marc explored the glaring racial disparities in homelessness trends and trajectories and discussed the role racism has played in the homelessness crisis. They also conducted a second late-afternoon workshop on how to implement anti-racist policies at your organization.
This year we also had members of the New York Police Department presenting with representatives from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about new strategies and programs they are implementing to improve responses to crises involving people struggling with mental health issues.
Another popular morning session included a panel on siting for new developments. Moderated by Council Member Stephen Levin, the workshop panelists included nonprofit developers, a government partner and a consultant. This group shared tips and success stories on how nonprofits can work with local community groups and businesses to garner support.
Other morning workshops included a panel discussion on the Joint Venture Guidebook, a panel on cost containment, a panel on using the “Explosive Child” approach by members of the Center for Urban Community Services’ Intensive Mobile Treatment team and a presentation by Joseph’s House & Shelter on “Ethical Dilemmas in Housing First for Families.”
Attendees enjoyed a networking luncheon and then returned for two rounds of afternoon workshops.
Some highlights from the afternoon workshops included a thought-provoking discussion moderated by Council Member Rafael Salamanca on how nonprofits and community organizations are battling the opioid crisis among the homeless population with representatives from Acacia Network, Care for the Homeless, Project Renewal and BronxWorks.
A conversation on the City’s commitment to creating 15,000 new units of supportive housing was also in the afternoon line-up. It included HRA’s Kristin Misner-Gutierrez, HPD’s Emily Lehman, and DOHMH’s Gail Wolsk, and was moderated by the Network’s Rebecca Sauer.
A standing-room-only discussion on “Housing for Health: Lessons from LA” featured Dr. Mitchell Katz, President of NYC Health + Hospitals and Bill Pickel, Executive Director of Brilliant Corners moderated by Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, Dr. Herminia Palacio. The panelists discussed the unique program that has already housed more than 4000 homeless people in less than four years, with a goal of eventually housing 10,000. Other workshops focused on conflict resolution and addressing vicarious trauma for staff. We also had an excellent conversation on how best to serve aging tenants and the needs of trans and gender non-conforming tenants.
We also had workshops focusing on development and finance including “Developing Supportive Housing in Trying Times,” and “From the Board Room to the Budget: Realizing Your Housing Development Vision.”
The late afternoon sessions also featured some more policy focused workshops. Members of the ESSHI workgroup discussed the first two years of implementing and supporting new development under the ESSHI program and the eleven different populations it serves. Other policy conversations included one on hopes and fears of housing policies on a federal level.
There was also a panel to discuss the new CAPS (Coordinated Assessment and Placement Systems) process, which is now mandated by HUD and kicked off implementation in January 2018.
Lamb Financial Group sponsored our ever-popular cocktail reception in the Marriott Marquis’ spectacular lounge overlooking Broadway.
We would like to express our enormous gratitude to everyone who attended, spoke at, and volunteered for the conference. We salute you, and thank you for working together to fulfill the largest commitment to supportive housing in history. Hope to see you again at next year’s conference!
The Network hosted two panel discussions last week on the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) in advance of this year’s Request for Proposals (RFP),scheduled to be released imminently. The workshops, held in Albany and Buffalo, highlighted the ESSHI process including what what’s new in the upcoming RFP, how to access capital funding through both OTDA HHAP (Homeless Housing and Assistance Program), and HCR (Homes and Community Renewal). A robust Q&A followed with the audience covering topics such as NIMBY and siting issues, pre-development funding and clarifications on changes around the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) population.
The panels, moderated by the Network’s Executive Director, Laura Mascuch, were comprised of representatives from three state agencies: the Office of Mental Health (Moira Tashjian, Associate Commissioner and Chair of the ESSHI Interagency Workgroup), Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (Rick Umholtz, Director for the Bureau of Housing & Support Services) and Homes and Community Renewal (Leora Jontef, VP of Multifamily Finance-New Construction & Sean Fitzgerald, Assistant Commissioner). In the audience were many of the state agencies also involved in the ESSHI Interagency Workgroup including NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). Over 150 people attended the events including a mix of nonprofit members, developers, bankers and syndicators.
Several clarifications were discussed. The new RFP will treat the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) category differently. Projects serving mental health, substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and other Department of Health subpopulations that include 30 or more ESSHI units will be required to dedicate at least 25% of those supportive units to high Medicaid users.
The panelists also clarified that ESSHI will grant extensions beyond the 12 month conditional award period for projects that have demonstrated they are further along in the development process, but they also stressed that there is no penalty for re-applying annually.
Attendees were encouraged to talk to both OTDA and HCR about possible projects early on in the process. Both OMH (Office of Mental Health) and OASAS, have predevelopment funding available that can be accessed once a conditional award is issued.
The Network wishes to thank our hosts for these events, NYS Homes and Community Renewal in Albany and Evergreen Health Services in Buffalo. Both workshops were followed by networking mixers that were robustly attended. We would also like to acknowledge and thank our funders, the Oak Foundation, the van Ameringen Foundation, Robin Hood, New York Community Trust, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Capital One for their generous support of the Network’s Getting to 35K Capacity Building Initiative.
Network members gathered on the evening of March 15 at Scandinavia House for the Network’s Annual Meeting. Nonprofit providers, city officials, architects, developers, funders and other members of our community came together to meet, mingle and hear about the past year’s accomplishments.
Corey Johnson, the newly elected Speaker of the New York City Council, was our key note speaker, and addressed the 150 attendees in the room with a ton of enthusiasm, praise and support for supportive housing.
“You all know that housing really is health care. Until you put a roof over someone’s head, you cannot expect them to be sober, you cannot expect them to fight drug addiction, you cannot expect them to deal with chronic illnesses,” he said.
Speaker Johnson also reiterated his commitment to supportive housing and praised our members for their extraordinary accomplishments and work. He added that in the four years he’s been on the City Council he’s never even once received a single complaint about any of the supportive housing residences in his district.
“Thanks to the amazing work done by you all, we’re changing the narrative of “not in my backyard to YES in my backyard,” he exclaimed to a cheering audience.
The Network’s board chair and CEO of Breaking Ground, Brenda Rosen, kicked off the speaking program with warm welcoming remarks for the supportive housing community. “In the face of all obstacles, we remain steadfast and committed to our work,” she said. Executive Director of Concern for Independent Living Ralph Fasano presented the Network’s financials to the audience and the Network’s Executive Director, Laura Mascuch, shared the networks accomplishments over the last year.
Guests spent the evening networking, marveling at the beautiful new residences adorning the walls and showcased in a slideshow, as well as checking out a slideshow of photos from openings and other events from 2017. Catered by the incomparable City Beet Kitchen, the event once again reminded us how lucky we are to represent this stellar community.
Check out the evening highlights in our Faceboook photo album.
Every year, the Network honors remarkable tenants at the Annual Awards Gala for their leadership and growth in supportive housing. Nominations this year were abundant and inspirational, so we decided to bring all tenant nominees together to share their stories, bond with other tenants and staff, and receive honorary certificates as a group. On November 30, supportive housing tenants came together at Fortune Society’s Castle Gardens Residence for a celebratory breakfast. Together, we shared a meal, laughed, and connected across experiences in a truly meaningful gathering. Here are some of the conversations held throughout the event.
After decades of drinking, Joseph Borden (The Doe Fund) announced that he is proud to be sober for almost a year, despite all the challenges thrown his way. Joseph spoke with animation about his appreciation for supportive housing, grateful for how far he has come. He advocated for more scattered site residential groups, and adores and respects his case manager, Yolanda Jones, who was at his side throughout the event.
Wayne Dunn (Lennox Hill Neighborhood House) quit smoking this year with his program’s smoking cessation class! He also works every week to plan, prepare, and serve community meals in his building. He also advocated for and attended Casa Mutua’s Overdose Prevention Training for staff and tenants. He spoke with great enthusiasm for supportive housing, and is known as a strong and kind leader in his community.
Jennifer Garris (Breaking Ground/CUCS) spoke from the heart about the devastating impact of her husband’s death, which led to her battle with alcohol, homelessness, and depression. She loves The Schermerhorn’s Tai Chi and jewelry-making classes, and she makes her way down from the 11th floor of the building every Sunday to cheerfully wish all residents well and check in on her neighbors. “God is not done with me yet,” she explains. Ms. Garris is a true inspiration amongst tenants and staff.
Denise Jackson (Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly) bravely shared the traumatic story of witnessing her mother’s murder, subsequent responsibilities as the family’s “Cinderella,” and eventual drug use and suicide attempts. Today, she is a mother of five, grandmother of 24, and has a great-grandchild on the way. She gives back to her community and has committed to sobriety and wellness in honor of her mother. She is known as one of the most active, beloved, motivating and respected tenants in her building, and had comforting words of support and love for everyone present.
Ivan Lassitier (Federation of Organizations) has shared, “In five years, I see myself living on my own, married, and holding down a good job. You have to stay positive. There are going to be obstacles ahead but you have to get up and dust yourself off. Keep doing the things that are right.” Ivan attends Mosque every Friday and continues to connect with friends and family members. He is grateful for the structure of supportive housing, which has assisted him in the process of living fully to better thrive.
Jamicka Martin (Guidance Center of Westchester) shared her struggles with addiction and poignant reflections on how it impacted her child. She has now graduated with her Associates Degree in Applied Science and Chemical Dependency Counseling, and she is a certified Substance Abuse Counselor. She passionately spoke about how her journey has led her to help others, as her life’s work is to support people struggling to find a power higher than their addiction. Jamicka spoke with confidence and love about her advocacy and her calling to give back.
Tina Miller (Services for the UnderServed) has lived in her residence since 2009, and praised every part of the journey! She proudly stated that she will stay there with her two children until she has saved enough money to buy a house, and she is actively pursuing her nursing degree at Bronx Community College, soon to enroll in Hunter College. A doting mother who has maintained her sobriety, Tina encouraged other tenants at the breakfast to network amongst peers, as that has been her pathway to positive changes in her life and her community.
Robert Reynolds was stationed in the Army years ago in Germany, and he shared the story of his recent return to what used to be the Army base and is now a high school. Robert spoke to the German school’s graduating class! He has reconnected with his daughter in Germany after 32 years, and is eagerly anticipating his next visit to see her and his two grandchildren this spring. Robert entered and left the event smiling from ear to ear.
Teresa Rodriguez (Alliance for Positive Change) spoke openly about her years of drug addiction and the impact it had on her life, including a prison sentence. She is now sober and an advocate for other tenants and her community—she helps new residents get settled in with Housewarming Kits and runs weekly arts-and-crafts groups and movie groups. Teresa’s work has recently been featured in the newspaper and on the local news, discussing the work she does for supportive housing! She connected with other tenants at the breakfast, expressing love, support and hope for others.
Alongside tenants, it was also wonderful to meet the dedicated staff who work with tenants daily and continue to help tenants create new pathways forward in supportive housing. CUCS Case Manager Phylisha Peters-Howard provided information about the innovative emotional healing group she is co-developing with tenants, utilizing relationships and trauma-informed tools to address painful emotional experiences, with an emphasis on tenant-driven curriculum development. Phylisha also spoke at length with Network staff about strategies to address diversity in spirituality and religious faith in tenants’ recovery processes.
Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch addressed the group, thanking them for their strength and leadership, and providing the group with a brief history of supportive housing in New York. It was humbling and inspiring to hear from such amazing tenants and to honor their journeys—the Network will absolutely be holding a tenant breakfast in the years to come.
The Network’s collaboration with the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) Institute continues this year with an exciting roster of upcoming trainings.
Next up this year is a training on Foundations of Motivational Interviewing, Part 1:
Motivational Interviewing (MI), developed by Millerand Rollnick, is an intervention that helps people recognize and address problem behavior (present or potential), and is intended to help resolve ambivalence and to get a person moving along the path to change. MI serves as an important prelude to other treatment and services by creating an “openness” to change, which paves the way for further important therapeutic work. This training provides an introduction to the basic principles and skills associated with MI including OARS (Open Questions, Affirmation, Reflective Listening, and Summary Reflections), expressing empathy, rolling with resistance, and avoiding common roadblocks to change. It also offers a foundation for Motivational Interviewing Part 2, which expands these skills into actual “change talk” and promotion of commitment to change.
This training is accredited as a New York State Social Work Continuing Education Course and OASAS Certified. You can register for this training here, and use the code SHNNY-MI-12-12-17 as the coupon code for your membership discount.
Founded in 1979, the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) is a comprehensive human service agency and the nation’s largest provider of supportive housing social services. The CUCS Institute is a leader in the provision of training to professionals in New York City and nationally. The trainers are at the forefront of emerging research and train on a range of topics related to housing and homelessness, behavioral health, criminal justice and clinical practice. The CUCS Institute is recognized as a continuing education provider by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work for licensed social workers and by New York State’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
For more information on registering or training content, please contact CUCS Institute.
Some fifty members of the faith community gathered at New Greater Bethel Ministries (NGBM) in Queens to hear how their churches can work with mission-driven nonprofits to develop supportive and affordable housing. Invited by Dominic Dummett of Signature Building Consultants, hosted by NGBM’s Pastor John Boyd and organized by the Network, the gathering featured presentations by the Network’s Laura Mascuch, HPD’s Theresa Cassano, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)’s Benjamin Dulchin and RiseBoro’s Scott Short.
In his opening remarks, Dominic referenced the context for the day’s conversations – namely that churches, plagued by near daily offers by developers have been making ill-advised deals to sell their properties. By partnering with mission-driven nonprofits to develop affordable and supportive housing, however, faith leaders can both gain assets and further their mission to care for “the least of these.”
Laura kicked off the morning by talking about supportive housing’s deep roots in the faith community, having been invented and promulgated by faith leaders in the early 80s and having, at its core, the intention of helping the most vulnerable among us achieve independence and a life of dignity in the community. She also informed those assembled that between the City’s and State’s commitments to supportive housing, there are significant resources available to develop residences in New York.
HPD’s Theresa Cassano then presented on the numerous programs the City has to encourage the development of supportive and affordable housing. She also walked attendees through the concrete steps faith-based institutions need to take in order to start the process.
ANHD’s Benjamin Dulchin then spoke briefly about the importance of working with organizations that share the same values as faith based organizations hold, ticking off the benefits of churches partnering with community-based nonprofit developers. ANHD recently published a white paper about the fact that buildings developed by nonprofits have a deeper level of affordability than those built by for-profits.
Scott Short, of RiseBoro (formerly Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center) then presented on a number of actual projects that have been developed or are in process of being developed as a result of partnerships with faith-based organizations. In one instance, the church sold its property outright, in another the church was a true Joint Venture partner and in a third the church receives a new worship space and additional rentable commercial space and is providing a long-term ground lease.
A lively well-informed question and answer period followed including questions about the Attorney General’s role in these deals (the AG must approve any transfers of church properties) and how churches can know whether they’re being taken for a ride (“get a good lawyer”)– and what are the different levels of affordability? (ANHD passed out cheat sheets on Area Median Income).
Thank you to everyone who participated and especially to our host, Pastor Boyd and the amazing people at New Greater Bethel Ministries.
On October 12th, the Network convened partners in Rochester for two events focused on meeting the ambitious new statewide supportive housing development goals.
In the morning, representatives from twenty of our nonprofit members participated in a workshop titled Joint Ventures: What’s on the Table. Expert panelists included Kevin Hoffman of Richman Housing Resources, Karen Sherman of ShermanLaw, Michael Claisse of Bank of America, and Monica McCullough of MM Development Advisors. Attendees learned about the basics of Low Income Housing Tax Credit development, risks and rewards of tax credit projects, and what questions to ask when negotiating a joint venture development agreement. Whether they were new to development or had participated in dozens of deals, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of how to approach a joint venture agreement and how to arrive at a deal that works best for the needs of their organizations. The Network looks forward to more programming on joint ventures as we strive to meet the development goals of the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI).
Additional members from banks, tax credit syndicators, and for-profit developers joined us for a packed afternoon panel on ESSHI. Moderated by the Network’s Laura Mascuch, the panel featured Moira Tashjian of the NYS Office of Mental Health, Richard Umholtz of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and Leonard Skrill of NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Panelists reflected on the past year of ESSHI and answered questions about the program’s implementation moving forward. According to the panelists, there were 182 applications in year two: 169 proposals with a total of 5,453 units received conditional awards.
Participants shared a great deal of information about the evolution of the initiative and imparted important information about conditional and permanent awards. To move from conditional to permanent award status,, a project must have all of its capital financing in place. Additionally, although the number of units in the project can change as the project moves forward, neither the population nor location may change from the conditional award. If groups are not 100% sure about their site location, it would be more prudent to not list the site. We are deeply grateful to Providence Housing Development Corporation for hosting this day in their beautiful Bishop Hickey Conference Center and to our generous panelists.
Check for upcoming events related to our Capacity Building Initiative here.
New York's supportive housing community came together on October 18th for our annual Network Awards Gala in a year of beginning to implement the historic commitments from the Governor and Mayor for 35,000 new units of supportive housing.
More than 600 guests joined us at Capitale to celebrate a few outstanding individuals and our amazing community. The mood was festive during the 90 minute cocktail hour as friends and colleagues revived old friendships and forged new ones.
The night’s festivities continued with our awards ceremony. This year we honored Deutsche Bank as our Private Sector Partner of the Year, and RuthAnne Visnauskas as our Government Partner of the Year, as well as three remarkable tenants and two outstanding residences.
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. Ms. Mascuch also offered special thanks to our gala fundraising committee chaired by Ralph Fasano of Concern for Independent Living and Hercules Argyriou of Mega Contracting.
Milagros Bursey, of the YWCA of Rochester, accepted the first of the evening’s three Tenant of the Year awards from the Network’s Sydney Kopp-Richardson. Ms. Bursey spoke forcefully about the difference supportive housing – and the YWCA of Rochester – had made in her life, after struggling with homelessness, domestic violence, and myriad health challenges.
The Network’s Steve Piasecki presented our upstate Residence of the Year award to Melissa O’Geen of DePaul for their gorgeous Carriage Factory Apartments, serving a mix of formerly homeless and low-income individuals and families.
Kimathi Witt of Concern for Independent Living, accepted the second of the evening’s Tenant of the Year awards from the Network’s Ms. Kopp-Richardson. Mr. Witt spoke movingly about how connecting with Concern for Independent Living was the key to turning around a life full of challenges including undiagnosed manic depression and homelessness. Since moving in with Concern, Mr. Witt has reunited with his son, married his girlfriend, completed one Master’s degree, was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and started a successful photography business.
Former Network Board Chair William Traylor, President of Richman Housing Resources, welcomed John Kimble of Deutsche Bank to the podium to receive our Private Sector Partner of the Year award on behalf of Deutsche Bank. Mr. Traylor highlighted the huge impact that Deutsche Bank has made on New York supportive housing. Mr. Kimble spoke about the importance of explicitly acknowledging issues of social justice in our work, in particular, the impact of racial inequity –as well as working to champion racial equity in our own organizations and partners.
The Network’s Cynthia Stuart presented the second Residence of the Year Award to Robert Sanborn and Brian Bardell of Volunteers of America-Greater New York for the beautiful Creston Avenue Residence. Jessica Katz, Associate Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, presented our Government Partner of the Year award to RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner & CEO of NYS Homes & Community Renewal. Ms. Visnauskas spoke to her long career in supportive and affordable housing starting with Clinton Housing, her time at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and now at NYS Homes and Community Renewal implementing the very ambitious 20,000 supportive housing unit commitment.
The final Tenant of the Year Award was presented to Robert Offley of Urban Pathways by Ms. Kopp-Richardson. Mr. Offley spoke about the decades he spent living on the streets before finding a new life thanks to supportive housing. His emotional ‘thank you’ to Urban Pathways and all those assembled won a standing ovation.
The evening ended with more cocktails, conversation, and delicious desserts!
You can also read more about each of our honorees by following the links here and check out the photos of the evening.
We hope to see you at next year's Gala!