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The Bridge Opens Doors to Maple Residence in Brooklyn

12.14.2018

Some 60 friends, funders, tenants and partners gathered on a crisp December morning to celebrate the opening of The Maple Residence- a 66 unit supportive/affordable building in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Developed by The Bridge, Maple will bring 50 units of supportive housing to vulnerable New Yorkers suffering from mental illnesses, and 16 units of affordable housing to low-income families in the community.

The President of The Bridge’s Board of Directors, Cynthia C. Wainwright, began the program by welcoming and thanking everyone in the room for their support. Susan Wiviott, The Bridge CEO, spoke next, thanking all the partners and staff members that made this project possible.

“It takes a million and half people to get this done and we really have great partners to get this done with,” said Susan.

The rest of the speaking program included remarks from Brett Hebner, Director of Housing Development and Support at the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH); Blanca Ramirez, Vice President of Acquisition/Underwriting at Hudson Housing Capital; Jennifer Trepinski, Director of Loan Originations at CSH; and last but not the least, a tenant of the building, Nancy C. 

“On behalf of Dr. Anne Sullivan I’m delighted to be here and congratulations to The Bridge on its most recent beautiful building,” he remarked to the audience.

Blanca Ramirez also recognized The Bridge for its commitment to provide housing to those that need it most.

“Every building has a story and we were very excited to work with The Bridge to get this beautiful building put together,” said Blanca.

“The walk here was really amazing and it was great spotting the building in this corner. CSH is so proud to support The Bridge and get this project started,” said Jennifer Trepinski from CSH.

The star of the show was Nancy C., a tenant of the Maple East NY Residence. She spoke of her journey from being hospitalized for mental illness to becoming a graduate student at CUNY.

“A few years ago I was hospitalized for mental illness for nine months and after that I was in a shelter briefly, and then was taken in by The Bridge. They gave me all the tools to get my life back together. I’m extremely grateful to have been selected to live at Maple, a beautiful building,” she told the audience.

The Maple/East NY Residence is powered by solar panels on its roof and features a community kitchen, computer lab, and an outdoor community patio for its tenants. Comprehensive social services are funded by OMH. The building was designed by Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects and was constructed by DP Group General Contractors. 

Capital financing for the Maple Residence was provided by OMH and bonds from the Dormitory Authority of New York and Low Income Housing Tax Credits syndicated by Hudson Housing Capital with HSBC as investor. CSH provided the pre-development loan that included acquisition funding.

| What's New, New York City


The Network Testifies at a Hearing of the City Council Committee on Contracts

11.20.2018

On November 15, The Network testified at the New York City Council Committee on Contracts hearing regarding a new bill that targets late contract payments to nonprofits that are delivering services to the city’s most vulnerable, including many that are operating supportive housing throughout the City.

The proposed bill, which would require the Procurement Policy Board to create a process for city agencies to inform vendors of the reason for any late payments, was introduced by Committee Chair Justin L. Brannan and Council Member Rory Lancman.  It would also require City agencies to provide the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services with reports on any such late payment. The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services would then provide a report to the Mayor and Council every six months with information about the late payments from all City agencies. Council members present at the hearing included Inez D. Barron, Bill Perkins, Helen K. Rosenthal and Kalman Yeger. 

For a payment to be made on a City contract with a nonprofit, the contract must be registered, a process that includes review from many City agencies and offices, including that which will hold the contract, the Mayor’s Offices of Contract Services (MOCS) and the Comptroller. In addition to the issue of late contract payments, many who testified at the hearing brought up the issue of slow contract registration as a root cause.

The Network’s Director of Policy and Planning, Rebecca Sauer, testified on behalf of the Network’s members that are impacted by late contract registration and payments.

“We hear serious concerns from nonprofit members who have millions of dollars of outstanding receivables on their books and fiscally unhealthy reliance on lines of credit due to late contract registration and delayed payments. Outstanding receivables can lead to audit findings. Nonprofits can spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on interest on lines of credit, which is not reimbursable. The negative financial impact left by late payments can make nonprofits appear to be a risky investment partner or borrower, hindering their ability to access the financing required to develop permanent supportive housing. In their fiduciary capacity, nonprofit boards of directors are also increasingly and understandably reluctant to approve new real estate development while their organizations are supporting structural deficits and bridging late payments from existing human service contracts,” she stated to the committee.

The Network thanks the Human Services Council (HSC), who has been leading the charge on efforts to reform procurement and contracting processes that affect nonprofits. Testimonies were also provided by BronxWorks, United Neighborhood Houses, LiveOn NY and many others who emphasized to the committee the human and financial toll of late registration and payments. We look forward to continuing to advocate with our partners for improvements to these administrative processes.

Read the Network’s full testimony here.

| What's New, New York City


The Network Joins Coalition to Urge Lawmakers to Reform State Rent Laws

11.16.2018

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.”

Read more here in this press release.

Daily News: Affordable housing developers teaming with low-income tenant activists to push for rent regulation reforms

| What's New, New York City


Panel discusses updates on NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative

10.29.2018

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


Supportive Housing Loan Program- A unique innovation to finance housing for homeless New Yorkers

09.25.2018

The world-renowned HPD Supportive Housing Loan Program (SHLP)– a one-stop shop that provides loans to develop supportive housing in New York City – had humble beginnings. It was started in 1988 and combined the Capital Budget Homeless Housing Program (CBHHP) and the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Loan Program which at the time was financing the renovation of commercial SROs. Under Tim O’Hanlon during his time at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the newly imagined SRO Loan Program grew to be the primary program the City uses to house chronically homeless New Yorkers.

The early Supportive Housing Loan Program (then SRO Loan Program) projects were exclusively existing buildings. The program either renovated or rehabilitated the buildings so that 60% of the apartments served people in need of both housing and onsite services – such as formerly homeless individuals coping with behavioral health issues – and 40% of the apartments were designated for low-income individuals from the community. The supportive/affordable mix had numerous benefits including creating or preserving affordable housing, providing a community benefit, and ensuring buildings were integrated. 

Another key element of the Program was its reliance on nonprofits: “When the City started to try to develop homeless housing on its own, parallel to CBHHP, there was too much community resistance. But when local nonprofits developed, the community went for it. They liked the accountability and the accessibility; the organizations were right there in their communities already,” said Tim O’Hanlon, Vice President, Hudson Housing Capital and Former Assistant Commissioner of Special Needs Housing, HPD. 

Emily Lehman, current Assistant Commissioner of Special Needs Housing, adds,“SHLP is really geared toward working with NFPs; this is a hallmark of what SHLP has always been about. The nonprofit advocate community created supportive housing in NYC, so we have tried to preserve their role to this day. One of the things that I really love about working in this program is that it feels like [the nonprofits and HPD] are all on the same team, working towards the same goal.” For-profit developers can now develop supportive housing if in joint venture with a nonprofit, further expanding the universe of actors who can work to bring supportive housing to fruition. 

The Program allowed providers to take on massive projects, gut rehabbing dilapidated SROs and hotels, around the city, primarily in the Upper West Side and in the Times Square area. The largest project was the Times Square Hotel. Rosanne Haggerty, former Executive Director of Common Ground (now Breaking Ground) submitted an application to HPD seeking to rehabilitate the former hotel that had been used to provide degraded housing to up to 1,000 tenants becoming in what was known as a “welfare hotel” in the 1980s. Tim O’Hanlon remembers: “At the time no one was spending money to buy buildings. But the City agreed to give Common Ground $30 million to acquire the Times Square Hotel.” 

The first completely newly constructed supportive housing residence was not built until the mid-1990s. Around the same time, the financing structure for supportive housing deals were beginning to diversify. SHLP funding was paired with 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the first time. In 2018, HPD set-aside 40% of its 9% tax credits to fund supportive housing in New York City.

Former HPD Associate Commissioner Jessica Katz commented on the program’s flexibility and its role in building the capacity of the nonprofit development community: “Nowhere else is there a program for supportive housing that operates at this scale. One key aspect is that SHLP can operate both as a stand alone program as well as in concert with other mainstream affordable housing resources. This ensures a diversity of projects including smaller deals with smaller nonprofits as well as the ability to incorporate supportive housing within larger affordable housing projects. This builds capacity in the sector and encourages a wide variety of supportive housing options.”  

Since 1988, the Supportive Housing Loan Program and related historic HPD programs have produced over 19,000 supportive and affordable units. 
 

| What's New, New York City


Committee on General Welfare Examines NYC 15/15 Progress in City Council Hearing

05.03.2018

On April 24, 2018, the Committee on General Welfare, chaired by Council Member Stephen Levin, held an oversight hearing to examine the progress of the City’s new supportive housing program, NYC 15/15. The four-hour long hearing focused on the progress being made towards achieving the goal of 15,000 supportive housing units in 15 years and included testimony on Intro 147, a local law introduced by Council Member Levin, to amend the administrative code of the City of New York in relation to reporting on supportive housing placements.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson initiated the hearing with positive remarks on the effectiveness of the supportive housing model, and his support for it.

“Supportive housing, which began in the 1970s in response to the homelessness crisis in New York City, is considered the most successful existing model for ending chronic homelessness among vulnerable populations,” he said.

He also expressed his commitment to ending homelessness and urged all those present to do everything they can to develop more supportive housing as quickly as possible. “There are homeless people everywhere, living on the streets, and it’s heartbreaking,” Johnson said.

Commissioner Steven Banks of the Human Resources Administration (HRA), Maria Torres Springer, Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and Molly Park, Deputy Commissioner for Development at HPD were the first to testify at the hearing.

Commissioner Banks and Commissioner Torres Springer gave an update on the progress towards NYC 15/15 and discussed the issues slowing down progress. Of the 15,000 units in the plan, half are planned as scattered site supportive housing and half as part of single-site, or congregate, residences.

“Through the 15/15 plan thus far, we have made 1,426 awards to providers, including 505 scattered and 921 congregate units,” Commissioner Banks stated. “337 clients have already moved into units, 170 more are already linked to units and are in the process of moving in,” he added.

Commissioner Banks also identified the tight market for apartments at affordable rents, which have a vacancy rate of 1.15%, as one of the main reasons slowing down the pace of scattered site supportive housing.

Commissioner Torres Springer too described the long lasting benefits of supporting housing in her testimony, including the fact that for every supportive housing unit tax payers save $10,000 per year in public resources. She then turned the conversation back to the council members and asked for their help to overcome the biggest challenge facing any new supportive housing: building community support.

“We need your help in combating the misperceptions associated with homelessness and supportive housing. Communities across the city need to know that they cannot be opposed to the siting of homeless shelters and to the siting of permanent housing for formerly homeless and supportive populations that would ultimately reduce the need for shelters. One is a key solution to the other, and opposing them both gets us nowhere,” she said. 

In addition to Speaker Johnson and Chair Levin, present council members included Adrienne E. Adams, Diana Ayala, Vanessa L. Gibson, Mark Gjonaj, Barry S. Grodenchik, Brad S. Lander, Antonio Reynoso, Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Ritchie J. Torres and Mark Treyger.

Most of the Council Members present voiced their eagerness to develop more supportive housing.

“First of all, as you’ve heard from the Speaker, this body is committed to assuring that we help develop as many supportive housing units as possible. So, we not only talk the talk, but we walk the walk and you’ll have great partners moving forward,” Council Member Gjonaj assured the audience.

The Network’s Executive Director, Laura Mascuch, who also serves as the Co-Chair of the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care (CoC), the planning body that serves to allocate HUD funding for homelessness and permanent supportive housing programs also testified at the hearing. She spoke about the recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force on Supportive Housing, which were incorporated into NYC 15/15, significantly improving the model and ensuring its success in reducing homelessness. She also reiterated the need for support from council members in overcoming community opposition.

“Apart from the dearth of affordable appropriate land on which to build supportive housing, the single greatest impediment to developing new residences is local opposition, often based in misinformation and fear. We look to the City Council for leadership in this area,” she remarked.

The hearing concluded with Committee Chair Stephen Levin emphasizing the need to move people out of the shelter system and into supportive housing and working more diligently to ensure that all who do need supportive housing, get it. 

| What's New, New York City


Project Renewal’s Super-Green Bedford Green House Groundbreaking

11.28.2017


Breaking ground for Bedford Green.

Fifty city, state, federal, and private sector partners gathered on the construction site of Bedford Green House, an extraordinary new affordable/supportive housing development for the Bedford Park section of the Bronx that will feature, a living green façade, an interior green wall, and a rooftop aquaponic system to raise fish and produce in addition to a teaching kitchen, a community playground and a landscaped garden. The 13-story Bedford Green House will be built in two phases, with 118 units going up now and 90 units later. But that’s not all that’s new and exciting about the project, as Project Renewal CEO Mitchell Netburn pointed out in his welcoming speech: “Bedford Green House continues the organization’s 50-year history of “firsts” including the first outreach to homeless alcoholics, the first non-hospital detox, and the first shelter for LGBTQI young adults. Bedford Green House will be Project Renewal’s first project to serve families.”

On hand to celebrate was Lynne Patton, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey who quoted project consultant Jonathan Rose: “today we stick shovels in the ground to build gardens in the sky.”

HPD commissioner Maria Torres-Springer pointed out that the project embodies the Mayor’s newly released Housing 2.0 Plan, both by creating much needed affordable and supportive housing and through its dependence on a mission-based nonprofit as its developer/owner.

Assembly Member Jose Rivera strongly supported the project and the mission behind it, telling attendees that he too had been homeless when his family first came here, “and, if it wasn’t for people like you…”

Also deeply moved was Chris Johnson, the CEO of Hollister, the contractor for Bedford Green House, who told participants that the project was an embodiment of the precepts his mother instilled in him: “You have to give to live.”

Fred Harris of Jonathan Rose quipped, “If it takes a village to develop affordable housing, it takes a medium sized city to develop supportive housing.”

Luminaries included Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) Commissioner Sam Roberts, NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin, Bank of America’s Todd Gomez, Bronx CB 7 Chair Adeline Santiago, Deutsche Bank’s John Kimble, and CSH’s Jen Trepinski.

On site services will include primary medical care, mental health treatment and support, substance use disorder counseling and treatment, conflict resolution, domestic violence counseling and support, family reunification services, horticultural therapy, nutritional counseling, healthy cooking workshops, occupational therapy, STD / HIV prevention, treatment, and support, and respite / alternative caregiving.  On site services will be funded by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Human Resources Administration.

Bedford Green House was financed under HDC’s Extremely Low- and Low-Income Affordability (ELLA) program and HPD’s Supportive Housing New Construction program. The total development cost for the project is over $58.8 million. HDC provided volume cap bonds, recycled tax-exempt bonds, and nearly $7 million in corporate reserves. HPD provided $8.85 million in City subsidy, inclusive of $2 million in HUD HOME funds and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), Bank of America served as tax credit investor and provided the construction letter of credit. NYS OTDA provided funding under the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP). Additional grant funding was provided by TD Bank and Deutsche Bank Foundation. CSH provided predevelopment loans.

Bedford Green House’s development team is led by Mitchell Netburn and Sam Wells at Project Renewal, and consulting services were provided by Jonathan Rose and Dale White at The Jonathan Rose Companies. Hollister Construction Services is serving as the general contractor. Architectural design services are provided by Andrew Knox of Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects.

| What's New, New York City, Groundbreakings


Network/CUCS trainings announced for 2017-2018

11.27.2017

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.

| What's New, New York City, Network Events


Partnering with Churches to Develop Supportive and Affordable Housing

11.22.2017


Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch and the panelists at our event on working with mission-driven nonprofits to develop supportive and affordable housing.

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.

| What's New, New York City, Network Events


FIRST NYC ESSHI-FUNDED PROJECT OPENS ON STATEN ISLAND!!!

10.24.2017


Cutting the ribbon at 411 Vanderbilt.

On an unseasonably warm sunny morning in late October, some fifty friends, staff, partners and well-wishers gathered in the front yard of 411 Vanderbilt to celebrate the long-awaited opening of Project Hospitality’s (PH) first single site supportive housing residence in its 35 year history of serving homeless people on Staten Island. The project was also the first New York City project funded through the state’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (and only the second supportive housing residence to open on Staten Island). Both Project Hospitality’s first Executive Director -- now CEO – Rev. Terry Troia and its new Executive Director Carrie Bloss were on hand to do the honors, as they helped cut the ribbon on 16 beautiful new apartments for formerly homeless individuals.

Project Hospitality Board Chair Rabbi Gerald Sussman told the story of the organization’s twenty five year effort to build 411 Vanderbilt, which included multiple owners reluctant to sell, a long stretch in which the building was inhabited by squatters, and a fire that pretty much destroyed the building. Through the vision and tenacity of Project Hospitality and the project’s architect Amie Gross, its contractor Mammoth Construction, as well as important funders, 411 Vanderbilt literally rose from the ashes.

Kimberly Smith of the Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) was not the first or last speaker to acknowledge the difficulties in developing this project. Ms. Smith and OTDA’s Dana Greenberg presented Project Hospitality with a certificate of recognition from Commissioner Roberts as well as greetings from the Governor.  Project Hospitality, for their part, gave out plaqued bricks to significant project partners including CSH, Capital One Richmond County Savings Foundation and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

CSH’s Kristin Miller – whose organization had loaned PH the money to acquire the property -- noted that it had taken 25 years to make a loan for supportive housing on Staten Island, and predicted the next loan would not take as long.

Capital One’s Heather Gershen pointed out that it “takes a village” not just to support our most vulnerable neighbors, but to support the groups that support them as well.

Arthur McCarthy of Mammoth Construction told listeners that he never forgot where he came from – a modest upbringing -- and that his “heart goes out to people who haven’t been as lucky.” He then proceeded to offer a check for $2,500 in his recently passed father’s name to be used to fill the refrigerators of the 16 people who would be moving into 411 Vanderbilt over the next few days.

Also on hand were representatives from Richmond County Savings Foundation, HUD, OASAS, the Staten Island Foundation, the Network and HSU.

411 Vanderbilt was funded by HUD, OTDA, CSH, Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the aforementioned foundations. Service funding will come from the NYS Department of Health. 

| What's New, New York City, Openings


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