Where a Catholic parish church once stood, Catholic Charities opened St. Augustine Terrace, an affordable housing apartment that includes 35 units of supportive housing served by Beacon of Hope.
“For us in the church, this is a no-brainer. It’s a duty. It’s something we are obliged to do,” said Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, about developing affordable and supportive housing. Some 100 friends, supporters, and church luminaries attended the opening on April 8th celebrating the long-awaited project which includes 35 units of supportive housing.
Reverend George Stewart, Pastor of St. Augustine/Our Lady of Victory Church, began the dedication of St. Augustine Terrace by praying over residents and recalling some history of the church that previously stood on the site. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, noted the enormous collaborative effort behind the project and how the focus of the day was really the building’s community of new residents.
RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner/CEO of NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), echoed others in her sentiment that St. Augustine Terrace “is an incredibly prime example of what we can call accomplish when government and the nonprofit sector come together to address issues like affordable housing, like homelessness, like mental health – issues that we see across the state.” She also expressed gratitude to the residents who had shared their stories: “When people like you tell your stories, it is a thousand percent what drives people like me and my counterparts in government to do the work that we do, day in and day out.”
“I am so moved, not by the building, but by the homes that these will provide to so many people who need them,” said Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City. “For New Yorkers living with serious mental illness it means stability and the freedom that comes with living independently, surrounded by the support that they need to stay healthy. And for every resident of St. Augustine Terrace, this is a home.”
Also present to share remarks were Stanley Grayson, Trustee for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Vanessa Gibson, NYC Council Member for District 16; James McSpiritt, CEO of Catholic Homes New York; Molly Park, Deputy Commissioner for Development, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD); Brett Hebner, Director of the Bureau of Housing Development and Support at the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH).
Rebekah, a tenant of St. Augustine Terrace since September 2018, was present at the event and featured in a video in which she said: “Being chosen for this apartment was pretty much a breath of fresh air. Just knowing that when I’m at work and my daughter comes home from school – that she will have some type of security around her, makes me feel 100 percent safer.” (Catholic Homes New York video available here and embedded below.)
St. Augustine Terrace is an environmentally friendly LEED-certified building comprising three-bedroom, two-bedroom, and studio units. Catholic Charities’ Beacon of Hope program is providing onsite services.
Cardinal Dolan concluded the official program with a ringing of a replica of the former St. Augustine church’s old bell, which now sits at the entrance of St. Augustine Terrace.
Funding for St. Augustine Terrace came from the HPD’s Extremely Low- and Low-income Affordability (ELLA) program; NYS Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA); NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR); the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; HSBC Bank; and JPMorgan Chase. Tax credits were syndicated by Richman Housing Resources. Rockabill Consulting advised on the project’s development, Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) Architects designed and MEGA Contracting Group constructed the building.