Connie Tempel Retires from CSH
Connie Tempel -- a legend in the world of supportive housing -- retires from CSH.
Connie Tempel – one of the godmothers of supportive housing and a mainstay of the movement in New York City for the last twenty five years -- is retiring as Chief Operating Officer for CSH today. Ms. Tempel has made an enormous impact on our movement, including what she deems one of her proudest achievements, being present at the first meeting of the SRO Providers Group (the Network’s name for most of its early life) and co-chairing the group early in its existence. Ms. Tempel was a major force behind convincing the New York State Office of Mental Health to embrace supportive housing as an intervention to end chronic homelessness and laid the foundation for what would eventually become known as the NY/NY agreements. Another of Ms. Tempel’s game-changing achievements was shepherding the nine-year process of proving supportive housing’s cost effectiveness in what has become known as the gold standard of cost-benefit analyses, the University of Pennsylvania’s 2001 report known in shorthand as the Culhane Report.
Ms. Tempel helped design models and evaluations for a number of new populations, expanding the model’s reach and sustainability. She helped create the first service funding for supportive housing for families and youth -- the Supportive Housing for Families and Young Adults program. She helped imagine and implement the FUSE model and evaluation proving the programmatic and cost effectiveness and of re-entry housing, and, with the late Alan Epstein, imagining and implementing the use of 4% tax credits in OMH housing development. She also designed and implemented the first Moving On demonstration.
Ms. Tempel joined CSH in 1992, having worked previously at Catholic Charities, where, alongside now-Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch, she helped develop the first supportive housing project under the first NY/NY Agreement, Monica House, named after Governor Mario Cuomo’s mother. Ms. Tempel also worked with Bill Traylor then of HPD (now of Richman Housing Resources and the Network’s Board Chair) on the first NY/NY tax-credit project.
Some of her hundreds of former colleagues and admirers share their thoughts:
“Connie was the co-chair of the SRO Providers Group with me when it was created back in the 1980’s so she and I have spent years in the trenches developing affordable housing for folks who are homeless. Connie is smart, caring, committed, and persistent. Another thing I always admired about Connie is her downright competence. She’s been a real visionary in this field.” -Stephan Russo of Goddard Riverside Community Center.
“Connie embodies four qualities critical to the development of quality supportive housing: intelligence, imagination, commitment and empathy. It's no wonder that she has always been a leader in the field and no surprise that we will miss her.” -Benjamin Warnke of Alembic Community Development.
“The best boss I ever had. She taught me the importance of the long game and personified the fortitude it requires. In her unique and quiet way she skillfully orchestrated time and again the diverse energies, interests and abilities of others towards the achievement of a greater goal – more supportive housing and better supportive housing everywhere.” -David Gillcrist of Project Find.
“In the decades-long struggle to end homelessness in New York City and nationally, there are few that have done more and yet have been more unsung than Connie Tempel. One of those rare people who was trusted by advocates and government alike, Connie has been the backbone of the movement. As one of my first mentors, she ingrained in me that good policy must be grounded in programs and practice, and must above all put first the interests of people who these programs are intended to serve. In all her achievements, she tread humbly and quietly. And quiet though they may have been, her shoes will be no less hard to fill. I wish her the best of luck in her well-earned retirement.” -Richard S. Cho of Council of State Governments Justice Center
“Since our beginning years together at CSH, Connie has dedicated herself with great heart and soul to advancing supportive housing as a means of strengthening communities and the lives of those most in need. Congratulations on this milestone!” –Julie Sandorf of the Revson Foundation
“Connie deserves all the accolades we can bestow on her. From the original Culhane report to SHFYA to tens of thousands of supportive housing units developed with the help and guidance of CSH, there are very few things that happened in supportive housing over the years that didn’t bear her imprint. I can say without reservation that supportive housing would not have become the success it is today without her and her quiet but determined leadership. And of course, personally, I owe much of my career to her and her support. She should take pride in a job well done.” –Ted Houghton of Gateway Housing
“As cities across the US continue to struggle with homelessness, those who are really trying to solve the problem can find no more effective role model to emulate than Connie Tempel who I had the privilege of working with for 15 years at CSH. Connie dedicated her tremendous talents as a leader and advocate over a lifetime to champion access to housing and critical services for the poorest people in New York and across the United States. Not content to only run successful programs, she fought for policies and structural change that will impact us all for decades to come. Connie's life and accomplishments are a model for all who are not about rhetoric, but about delivering practical results.” –Carla Javits of REDF
“When I started in supportive housing in the late eighties Connie was there. She was an incredible mentor whom I have relied on throughout my career. She envisions a project or problem like no one else in the industry and she does it with a smile. Through her leadership in the NY/ NY housing work she has probably touched almost every supportive housing residence in the city. She is an inspiration to us all and will be sorely missed.” – Laura Mascuch of the Supportive Housing Network of New York
“Connie has dedicated her career to advancing innovation at the levels of policy and practice, taking supportive housing from what started as a pilot intervention in the 90s to what is now a mainstream solution. I have learned so much from her over the years and wish her the very best in the years ahead.” -Janice Elliott of Melville Charitable Trust
“Connie’s deep commitment to finding solutions through supportive housing began here in New York at CSH 22 years ago, and her innovation and determination have improved the lives of thousands of people across the entire country. Her leadership, thoughtfulness and vast knowledge reshaped the way we address the needs of vulnerable people, most especially the chronically homeless. We all wish her the happiest retirement!” -Kristin Miller of CSH
“Connie has been my personal guiding star for a lot of my life in supportive housing, most especially during my years at CSH. She always insisted that the numbers on which we based our advocacy be rock solid, that in my fervor to get out the message about supportive housing’s wonderfulness, I not cut corners on stone cold statistical accuracy. I am blessed to have worked with her on releasing the Culhane report, on NY/NY II and on spreading the word about the extraordinary supportive housing community in New York City. Plus, she taught me how to garden and introduced me to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Members Only sale, a gift of a lifetime. She is truly one of the movement’s leading lights and I am very lucky to have worked with her.” -Cynthia Stuart of the Supportive Housing Network of New York
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