Where is the building located? Is it new construction? How will it impact the community?
This new 7-story building will be purpose-built as a Safe Haven at 419 East 91st Street, between First Avenue and York Avenue. We are currently working with our future neighbors to answer any questions they might have.
A Safe Haven is transitional housing, not a shelter. Our Safe Haven will not require residents to leave during any period of the day or night. Their space is their own private space for the duration of their stay with us. The Safe Haven will offer three meals a day plus snacks, and a rooftop recreational area. It will provide housing specialists, case management, harm reduction, recreational and wellness activities, and primary and psychiatric care.
The building will have 24-hour security as well as an external security guard for the 12 busiest hours of the day.
Goddard Riverside has operated housing for formerly homeless people on the Upper West Side for decades. Our housing blends in to the community. We keep the sidewalks shoveled and our buildings in good condition, and we have positive relationships with our neighbors.
Who will live in the building and how do they get a bed there?
East 91st Street will house individuals who have completed an application through the Department of Homeless Services with the help of an outreach team. Goddard Riverside operates homeless outreach in the neighborhood already and will be one of the organizations referring individuals. Therefore, we’re in a great place to ensure that people living outdoors in the Upper East Side know about and apply for the Safe Haven.
The Upper East Side already has programs for homeless people. Why do we need more?
As rents have risen in NYC, homelessness has too. We need more housing in every neighborhood to keep pace. Well-run housing—the kind Goddard runs—does not impact the community negatively and in fact can add to property values. We work hard to maintain good relations with the neighborhood and contribute to community life.
Why do people become homeless? Why do some choose to live in the streets?
Lack of affordable housing is a main driver of homeless. Studies have found a full-time worker making the minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom rental in any state in the nation. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are one illness, accident or job loss away from homelessness. Domestic violence, substance use disorders and mental illness may also play a role in people becoming unhoused. Additionally, some people develop substance use and mental health challenges due to the trauma of homelessness. People may choose to live in the street because they don’t want to follow shelter rules or are concerned, rightly or not, about the conditions in shelters.
What is Goddard Riverside?
Goddard Riverside is a nonprofit social services organization headquartered on the Upper West Side with 22 locations in Manhattan and one in Queens. We provide programs for all ages, including Early Childhood Education, After School, youth programs, homeless outreach, mental health, job training, supportive housing, Senior Centers and older adult housing. We’ve been a proud member of the Upper West Side community since 1939, and our roots in New York City go all the way back to 1853.
How much experience does Goddard Riverside have working with homeless and formerly homeless people?
Goddard has been at the forefront of the national anti-homelessness movement for decades. In the 1980s we helped pioneer the concepts of homeless outreach and supportive housing. We have operated supportive housing residences on the Upper West Side continuously for more than 30 years while maintaining a strong positive relationship with the community.
What types of housing does Goddard Riverside currently provide?
We operate four Permanent Supportive Housing residences for people who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. These buildings provide long-term rental assistance and a range of services to help people get mentally and physically healthy, reconnect with family and community, find work, and have fulfilling lives.
We’ve just opened a Safe Haven in Elmhurst Queens, so East 91st Street will be our second Safe Haven. We’ve also operated “stabilization beds” and other forms of transitional housing in the past.
All of our residences operate on the Housing First model: our goal is to move people into permanent housing as soon as possible, with the support they need to succeed.
What is the Housing First model?
Housing First is the most successful approach to housing people experiencing homelessness. It moves people quickly into permanent supportive housing, where they have the best chance of thriving and recovering from any issues they had while they were homeless. Supportive housing provides the services and programs residents need to stay housed and reconnect with the community. It has a long-term success rate of more than 90 percent. Studies have shown repeatedly that Housing First works because it provides a safe and stable environment to recover from challenges such as substance use disorders. As homelessness expert and NYU professor Deborah Padgett writes: “Regardless of one’s problems, having a home is the route to a better life.”