Construction is underway at Homeward Central Harlem, a $22 million LGBTQ-inclusive affordable housing development for LGBTQ young adults in Manhattan.
The nine-story building at 15 West 118th Street in Harlem will feature 50 furnished studio apartments equipped with energy-efficient appliances, low-cost Internet, and on-site social services. The facility, slated to open in 2023, will serve young homeless individuals from the ages of 18 to 24 years old and provide them with counseling support alongside courses to help build life skills.
Governor Hochul, who announced that the building was under construction, praised the project as a step toward combatting the homelessness crisis.
“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 said in a written statement. “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.”
Homeward NYC, an organization serving homeless populations, is spearheading the on-site services at the development. Homeward NYC recently secured a major deal on the development with KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment and two other affordable housing firms in New York City. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development will also assist the project.
The program will select young adults from the Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Program and the Administration for Children’s Services Foster Care. Prospective residents are required to be between the ages of 18 and 24, though folks can remain there past the age of 24.
Homeward NYC CEO and executive director Jeannette K. Ruffins said this program provides LGBTQ young adults with the required tools for permanent and stable housing.
“[In] 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,” Ruffins said in a written statement. “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.”
Carmen Neely, president and CEO of Harlem Pride, touted the building’s significance for queer youth at a time when they continue to face elevated rates of homelessness.
“Despite the great progress the LGBTQ civil rights movement has made in the past decade, many LGBTQ young people still experience homelessness as a result of family and community rejection, including here in Harlem,” Neely said in a written statement. “I commend Governor Hochul for investing in our community’s youth, so they have an opportunity to be themselves and support themselves while surrounded by an affirming community.”
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