Stephan Russo Residence FAQ

Success Stories

Patricia survived decades on the street before moving into our supportive housing. “Goddard showed me how to be productive in society,” she says. “How to live a normal life.” Watch her story intertwined with the stories of four other people who’ve benefited from our programs.

See how our Homeless Outreach teams work with our housing program to help people exit street homelessness and chart a new course in life.

Where is the building located? How will it impact the community?

The Stephan Russo Residence will be located at 235 West 107th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway. We are currently working with our future neighbors to answer any questions they might have. 

Supportive housing is permanent housing, not a shelter. Each resident will have their own room and will not be required to leave for any part of the day. Residents will have access to physical and mental health care, case management, harm reduction, recreational and wellness activities. The building will have 24-hour front desk security. All units will be rent-stabilized.

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. 

When will construction start and how long will it last? 

Construction began in June 2023 and is expected to last approximately 18 months. The property’s 84 individual units will be reconfigured so that each has a private bathroom—currently, only half of the existing SRO units have private bathrooms; the remaining have shared bathrooms. This reallocation of space will bring the number of homes in the building down to 68, plus one superintendent’s unit. 

Each floor of the six-story building will be outfitted with two communal kitchens and dining areas which will each be shared by between six and seven tenants. In addition, the first floor and cellar will be renovated to create a community room and dedicated space for crucial case management and social services. Passage to and from the building’s east and north courtyards will be improved so residents can fully enjoy these outside areas, and the entire property will be made ADA compliant. ConRock Construction is the General Contractor for the renovation.

Who will live in the building and how do they get a room there? 

Our 54 supportive housing units will be rented to people who have completed an application and screening process through the city’s 15/15 supportive housing program. Each prospective tenant will undergo a thorough assessment before being matched to our residence. Of the 14 affordable housing units, eight are reserved for tenants already living in the building and the additional six will be filled via the affordable housing lottery.

The Upper West 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 homelessness. Studies have found a full-time worker making the minimum wage cannot afford a modest two-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 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 on the street because they feel safer or more independent or prefer conditions there to being in a shelter.

What is Goddard Riverside? 

Goddard Riverside is a nonprofit social services organization headquartered on the Upper West Side with dozens of locations in Manhattan and one in Queens. Goddard provides programs for all ages, including Early Childhood Education, After School, youth programs, homeless outreach, mental health, job training, supportive housing, and Older Adult Centers. We’ve been a proud member of the Upper West Side community since 1959, and our roots in New York City go all the way back to 1853. Last year we announced a strategic alliance with the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in Yorkville to better serve our communities.

Who is Stephan Russo?

Stephan Russo joined Goddard Riverside as a youth worker in 1976 and became executive director in 1998. He helped create the homeless outreach and supportive housing models, which are now widely recognized as key tools in addressing homelessness. In 1988 he founded the organization that became the Supportive Housing Network of New York. Russo stepped down in 2017 but has remained an active member of the Upper West Side community.

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 also run a Safe Haven in Elmhurst Queens—a form of transitional housing that is often a first step for people moving off the streets. This model provides people with housing, not a shelter, while they receive supportive services, gather documentation such as IDs, and apply for supportive housing.

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 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.”