Gail Wolsk went above and beyond for supportive housing providers during the COVID-19 crisis, but according to those who know her best, this was not unique to the pandemic – going to great lengths to serve providers and tenants is part of who Gail is.
As Senior Director of Housing Services at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gail and her team provide oversight and technical support to more than 200 supportive housing programs that provide services and permanent affordable dignified housing to more than 9,800 individuals and families. Gail has long served as a lifeline for providers, who seek her out for her deep understanding of how to operate supportive housing in order to best serve tenants.
“Gail totally gets that each resident is unique, and that supportive housing providers sometimes need to slightly tweak their operations to make sure that each resident has a chance at whatever success looks like for him or her,” said Paul Freitag, Executive Director of the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing.
Dr. Hillary Kunins, Executive Deputy Commissioner of Mental Hygiene at DOHMH, described how working alongside Gail uplifts our community. “New Yorkers were so lucky to have had her experience in disaster mental health; this pandemic put her skills to the test,” she said.
Gail worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that supportive housing residences and providers were as safe and supported as possible. She made herself available at all hours of the day and night to provide input and guidance, but not before checking in personally with her peers. “Our Friday night calls always started with her taking the time to ask me how I was, truly wanting to know if I was taking care of myself,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive Director of the Network.
Her impact on our community cannot be understated. “With the support of gifted individuals like Gail, I am confident that the supportive housing community will not only survive but will thrive,” said Freitag.
For her tireless support and empathy, we are proud to honor Gail as a COVID Hero.