With cold weather abound in the city, a lucky sum of homeless young adults in Harlem, New York, are excited to see a new home on the horizon. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the beginning of construction on the $22 million supportive housing development to be known as Homeward Central Harlem for formerly homeless young adults. Most notably, the apartment is LGBTQ-affirming and will consist of fifty apartments with on-site services arranged by Homeward NYC.
"Every New Yorker deserves to have a safe place they can call home, and Homeward Central Harlem embraces this mission for young adults who need a secure place to live," Hochul stated of the project. "My administration is committed to expanding supportive housing opportunities for vulnerable populations, especially LGBTQ youth who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness. With affordable housing and access to services in place for those who need them the most, we can help all New Yorkers thrive, grow and succeed."
The nine-story Homeward Central Harlem development will consist of fifty fully furnished studio apartments alongside one superintendent unit. Most residents will be referred by the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Youth and Community Development's Runaway & Homeless Youth program, and the Administration for Children's Services Foster Care, and must be ages eighteen through twenty-four in order to live in the development.
"This new development will provide 50 young people with the security, guidance and compassion they need to achieve their full potential and live happy, healthy and successful adult lives,” remarked HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “Far too often, LGBTQ individuals are met with discrimination and hardships that no young person should have to face. With affordable rents and tailored services, Homeward Central Harlem will provide residents with the safe environment and resources they need to heal. Our investment will reduce homelessness and enrich the LGBTQ community in New York City for decades to come."
To be built at 15 West 118th Street, the new building will include energy efficient heating, lighting, and cooling systems, as well as appliances and access to low-cost internet. Co-developers on the Homeward Central Harlem development are Type A Projects and Azimuth Development Group.
"We are grateful for the efforts of so many of our agency colleagues at HCR and HPD whose partnership and leadership throughout these first stages of our project has brought this development to fruition,” said Annie Tirschwell, Principal at Type A Projects. “Their dedication and support will immeasurably change the lives of so many of our city's young adults with the creation of permanent homes and stellar onsite service provision by our development partner, Homeward NYC."
The provider for social work services and on-site housing, Homeward NYC, offers services including case management for residents to access financial and health care benefits, group activities, skills-building programs, counseling, and connections to community resources. Homeward NYC also operates an Upper West Side intergenerational facility for older adults.
"Homeward NYC is proud to partner with New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Housing Preservation and Development, KeyBank, Hudson Housing and Enterprise Community Partners for financing, Type A Projects and Azimuth Development Group for development, and Kossar + Garry Architects, LLP for design,” Jeannette K. Ruffins, Chief Executive Officer of Homeward NYC, commented. “The partnership demonstrates the State's shared commitment to serving this vulnerable population as both smart policy and the right thing to do. Using a Housing First model, homeless young persons can take a breath, build skills, heal from trauma, and be empowered to move their lives forward. LGBTQ youth and young adults experience homelessness at a significantly higher rate than their peers. They often become homeless younger and remain homeless longer. Supportive housing (that's affordable housing with onsite support services) is a vital part of ending chronic homelessness."
Development financing from the state includes federal low-income housing tax credits that are expected to generate over $14 million in private equity and $2.5 million in subsidy from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Additionally, Enterprise Community Partners will be contributing $1.8 million in subsidy, while KeyBank aims to provide a $12.8 million construction loan.
"Enterprise was proud to provide a $1.8 million grant to Homeward NYC - Central Harlem, which will create 50 units of much needed permanent supportive housing for young adults and provide comprehensive on-site social services ranging from health and wellness services to job readiness in an LGBTQ affirming environment,” Baaba Halm, Vice President and New York Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners, said. “As New York City's housing instability crisis grows exponentially due to the pandemic and its economic fallout, these new affordable homes will make an immediate difference. We commend Homeward, Type A projects, Azimuth Development Group, the State, and all partners involved for moving this project forward at such a dire time for low-income New York City residents."
All supportive services in the development are going to be funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, while matching rental assistance will also be provided by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
"I am overjoyed and ecstatic to learn that construction on Homeward Central Harlem is underway to provide safe and affordable housing for young members of the LGBTQ community in our neighborhood,” remarked New York State Assembly Member Inez E. Dickens. “I clearly recall the horror stories of young people being thrown out of their homes, becoming part of the homeless community, physically assaulted, sexually abused and in some cases killed because of their sexual identity. Knowing that we will now house these beautiful young people in an environment where there will be support, warmth and understanding makes me proud to represent Harlem and continue to fight for funding for programs as such in the state legislature."