Categories: New York City, Openings
ACMH opened TWO supportive housing residences in September: the East 144th Street Residence in the South Bronx and Markus Gardens in Jamaica, Queens. The residences are part of NY/NY III and provide housing to a mix of individuals struggling with homelessness and behavioral health challenges and very low-income people from the neighborhood.
ACMH opened TWO supportive housing residences in September: the East 144th Street Residence in the South Bronx and Markus Gardens in Jamaica, Queens. The residences are part of NY/NY III and provide housing to a mix of individuals struggling with homelessness and behavioral health challenges and very low-income people from the neighborhood. And both offer housing options to young adults coming from institutional settings. Both openings also put tenants front and center quite literally. At both ceremonies it was tenants who stole the show at the podium and who held the classic giant scissors.
First came the South Bronx opening, September 12th -- some fifty well-wishers and partners gathered on a gloriously sunny afternoon to celebrate the completion of a new residence that will provide 42 apartments for adults and young adults with special needs and 18 apartments for individuals and families from the community (at 30-40% of AMI).
ACMH CEO and master of ceremonies Dan Johansson gave effusive praise to the teams who played a part – the team of housing staff at OMH; the team of housing specialists at Homes and Community Renewal; the teams at Bank of America, at the Bronx Borough President’s office, at Harden Van Arnam Architects and at Mega Contracting. Also celebrated were partners Richman Housing and Deutsche Bank. The Network too got a mention (thank you, Dan).
The featured speaker, Dr. Anne Sullivan, commissioner of the State Office of Mental Health was introduced by ACMH Board Chair (and longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Sullivan’s) Amy Hoffman. Dr. Sullivan spoke movingly about how much the world for mentally ill homeless people has changed in her lifetime, “A building like this wasn’t even the realm of possibility.” She also remarked on the feel of the organization and the residence: “you can tell this was a labor of love.”
But the stars of the event were two of the building’s first tenants, Braden Holiday and Janus Budde. Mr. Holiday described his first few days in the building as being the pioneer/guinea pig but said now, “It feels like a home to me.”
Ms. Budde followed by celebrating the “very special people in the world who remind you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it…it is because of all your hard work and dedication that on August 18th I was able to unlock one of those doors, that of my new apartment.”
East 144th Street received capital funding from HCR and Bank of America. OMH is providing services and operating costs. Predevelopment funding was provided by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and CSH provided the acquisition loan. Harden Van Arnam were the architects; Mega Contracting the builder. Richman Housing syndicated the tax credits.
Exactly a week later in Jamaica, Queens, ACMH opened Markus Gardens, one of a handful of supportive housing residences in that borough, and a spectacularly beautiful one at that.
Markus Gardens has 60 apartments for adults coping with behavioral health challenges and 16 shared units for young adults coming out of psychiatric settings.
Terrell Villa, who had moved in only a week prior, was overcome by emotion, saying that he felt that his life had just been saved.
Tenant Danil Werlin quoted from Abraham Lincoln’s paean to democracy, the Gettysburg Address, “four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
ACMH CEO and master of ceremonies Dan Johansson gave heartfelt thanks to all the partners who worked together to bring Markus Gardens into existence. Dan thanked the team of housing staff at OMH, Richman Group, NYSERDA, A. Larovere Consulting and CSH. Capital funding was provided by OMH and LIHTC equity. Generous seed money was provided from private donors including the Estate of Rita Markus.
The residence was designed by Ting and Li Architects and constructed by Mega Contracting Group.
Dan also gave generous words of thanks to the Network for our assistance – smoothing out bureaucratic delays and facilitating good relationships with neighbors. He also made special recognition of Alan Epstein, beloved former Network board member and supportive housing advocate, who passed away last year.
Congratulations to the Board, staff and tenants of both E.144th Street and Markus Gardens!