On a beautiful spring-like morning October 25th, West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) held a joyous opening of their new supportive/affordable complex ‘WSFSSH at West 108’ with more than 100 partners, staff and well-wishers. The new complex is co-located with the new Valley Lodge shelter and provides 199 apartments for a mix of individuals and families, including 119 supportive.
The project, long in the making and over stiff opposition brought several resources to the Upper West Side community including a new federally qualified health clinic run by the Institute for Family Health, parking for Central Park Medical Unit’s ambulances and a much-needed comfort station for the adjacent children’s playground, allowing the park to house community programming. Social services staff at ‘WSFSSH at West 108’ offer programming like art classes in the building’s activity rooms and outdoor exercise and recreational activities in the building’s backyard and elevated terrace.
WSFSSH Executive Director Paul Freitag emceed the event, who noted that the residence had actually opened during the pandemic and shouted out the incredible WSFSSH staff who made the process safe and smooth.
Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz then spoke, noting the sheer number of people in the very large room: “have you EVER seen this many people for a ribbon cutting?” She noted her role heading up HPD’s Supportive Housing Loan Program at the project’s inception, in saying yes to all the additional needs the project was asked to fill, and asked that attendees all pause to celebrate this amazing project.
WSFSSH Board Chair Shelly Fine spoke next noting the contributions of founder and former Executive Director Reverend Laura Jervis who was in the audience.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine exclaimed exuberantly, “WE DID IT!” and pointed out that the fight for 108th Street had been the “toughest land use fight I’ve been in.” He added that “the City needs to hear what we did here, not only creating 199 deeply affordable homes but improving the neighborhood. We need to do this all over the city.”
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión, Jr. commented “Wow. Amazing. Inspiring,” and gave special kudos to architect Dattner and Associates and contractor Procida-Butz, having grown up with the Procida family as neighbors.
‘WSFSSH at West 108’ tenant Lynette Spencer spoke about the vital role WSFSSH had played in her life, which fell apart following the death of her husband at the start of the pandemic and the loss of her job due to the COVID shutdown. She described being totally traumatized by the twin disasters and it wasn’t until she met longtime Valley Lodge Director Karen Jorgensen that her life began to turn around. Now she has a safe place to live, people to lean on and even a “gentleman friend,” and sent “all hopes and blessings” to Director Jorgensen and Executive Director Freitag.
New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance’s (NYS OTDA) Assistant Director Brenda McAteer noted that it was a special delight to be there as she’d been the project manager for the residence, noting “there is no finer investment for any community” than quality affordable and supportive housing.
New York City Human Resources Administration’s (NYC HRA) Administrator Lisa Fitzpatrick quoted Commissioner Gary Jenkins oft cited emphasis on the importance of “serving with care and compassion” commending WSFSSH for doing just that for nearly fifty years.
New York City Department of Homeless Services (NYC DHS) Administrator Joslyn Carter spoke about the new purpose built shelter, Valley Lodge, as “raising the bar” on what shelters should look like, and applauded Karen Jorgensen “a shelter director like no other.”
Lastly, Executive Director of Chase’s Community Development Banking Jane Silverman noted that she had paid regular visits to the site during construction since her daughter attended school in the neighborhood.
The project was financed by NYS OTDA Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP), New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) and Extremely Low and Low-Income Affordability (ELLA) tax exempt bonds, and New York City Housing Preservation and Development (NYC HPD) Supportive Housing Loan Program (SHLP).
The architect is Dattner Architects and the general contractor is Procida-Butz.
Media Coverage of ‘WSFSSH at West’ 108 Event:
- West Side Spirit, 10.27.22: New Supportive Housing for West Side Seniors
- West Side Rag, 10.27.22: Affordable Housing That ‘Elevates Everyone’; A Joyous Dedication on W. 108 Street
- 6sqft, 10.26.22: 199-unit supportive housing complex for seniors and families opens on the Upper West Side
- City Life Org, 10.26.22: ‘WSFSSH At West 108’, Supportive Housing Complex On The Upper West Side
- 1010 WINS, 10.25.22: Link to segment
- City & State NY, 10.25.22: First Read
- New York YIMBY, 10.24.22: WSFSSH At West 108th Street Supportive Housing Complex Debuts On Manhattan’s Upper West Side