18th Annual Supportive Housing Conference Brings 1,500 People to Share, Learn and Innovate
The 18th Annual Supportive Housing Conference was a celebration of New York’s unique leadership in development, financing and services in supportive housing.
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!
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