By Joy Bergmann
The Fortune Society has a message for Upper West Siders with concerns about its new permanent supportive housing program being created at 258 W. 97th Street: Ask us anything.
“We really have the formula for how we show up and succeed,” says Stanley Richards, Deputy CEO of Fortune. “And that’s being transparent, being partners with the community. Listening and being responsive.”
To show their program in action, Fortune invited WSR to tour its Castle Gardens residence at 625 W. 140th Street in West Harlem.
Opened in 2010, the 114-unit building is a living model of what Fortune aims to create on 97th Street: a permanent, affordable, mixed-use, supportive residential development. Its tenants are all low-income New Yorkers. Some are formerly incarcerated individuals.
A nonprofit founded in 1967, Fortune provides comprehensive services to over 9,000 justice-involved individuals each year, offering them the tools and opportunities needed to thrive as contributing members of society. But housing is key to their success. “We can do all the wraparound services, but unless someone has a safe, stable, affordable place to call home, it’s pretty hard to hold a job,” says Richards.
Securing housing in the private sector is often impossible. Rents are climbing and a New York City landlord can legally reject someone with a criminal conviction history. Reuniting with family living in public housing isn’t always an option either. NYCHA permanently excludes tenants convicted of certain offenses. Given all that, many recently released people go straight from prison to a homeless shelter — not an ideal setting for a fresh start. “We have to create legal pathways for people with criminal convictions to access affordable housing,” Richards says.
To see the impact of Fortune’s award-winning work and learn why other housing organizations are replicating its approach, check out this brief video:
WSR arrived early to Castle Gardens’ meticulously maintained brick building and decided to chat up two tenants we spotted outside.
Jerry, 62, spent 24 years in prison, but has lived successfully in his apartment since 2010; 42 incarcerated years left Edwin, 66, bewildered by modern life until three years ago, when Fortune showed him how to succeed. Both bubbled over with gratitude.
“They gave me a different outlook on life,” says Edwin. “I’m a part of society now. Everyone wants a sense of pride and dignity. We have that here.”
“We bring something to the community, not just take from it,” says Jerry, noting how the building serves as a Harlem community meeting space [for Community Board 9, among others], a polling place, a summer cooling center and a weekly fresh produce pick-up spot for locals facing food insecurity. “We’re here to help build something up.”
The men asked Upper West Siders to be open to their incoming neighbors. “Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes. The pandemic has proved that,” says Edwin.
“Make sure they know that, to live here, we have to show we can handle our business and be responsible,” adds Jerry. “Case managers walk us through every step of the way. We’re all works in progress, but we are breaking the cycle.”
Upon entering Castle Gardens, WSR was greeted by Patrick, one of its residential aides who monitor the premises 24/7 — staying apprised of tenants’ well-being while checking the building’s 64 security cameras.
Like many Fortune Society employees [including Stanley Richards], Patrick has a criminal justice history and came to Fortune as a program participant. With two years on the job, he now has his own off-premises apartment. “I love it here, interacting with residents, everything.”
Sherry Goldstein, Fortune’s VP of Operations and a 35-year resident of West 94th Street on the UWS, says the new 97th Street residence — which will be called Castle IV — will have equivalent security. “It will be staffed 24/7 and case managers will be on site, usually from 8am to 8pm, Mondays through Saturdays.”
The most important thing to know: Castle IV is not a shelter. Like Castle Gardens, it’s an apartment building. Tenants may stay forever as long as they adhere to their lease provisions [including paying rent] and abide by Fortune’s rules including “no violence.” If someone violates that trust, Fortune says they work to address the issue by offering appropriate services. If the behavior doesn’t change, they proceed with actions up to and including eviction.
Of Castle IV’s 82 units, 15 will be available to current residents who lived in the SRO during its “illegal hotel” days, and will include a live-in super; 9 units will house low-income folks who win spots through a NYC Connects lottery; 58 rooms will be occupied by Fortune tenants who are currently living in homeless shelters. “No one’s coming fresh from the penitentiary. These will be current Fortune participants – single men and women – who’ve shown they are ready for permanent housing,” says Goldstein.
Fortune understands why skeptical UWS residents might not be jumping for joy at their arrival, given past problems with other housing initiatives.
“We don’t want to discount the very harmful and intense experience the community has undergone. It was real,” says Richards. “We want to appreciate their experience and really articulate who we are and let them judge us on who we’ve always been.”
One thing Fortune has always been rigorous about is tenant screening.
Who will NOT be eligible to live at Castle IV? People with:
- Arson convictions
- Methamphetamine production on rental housing premises convictions
- Level 2 or 3 sex offender designation; any child molestation convictions
- Assessed current risk of violence
- Assessed need for more services than the housing model provides
“Anyone assessed as posing a current risk of danger to themselves or the community will be excluded,” says Richards, noting that a team of case managers and clinicians evaluates each candidate’s unique challenges and strengths. “We want stable tenants who know Fortune already.”
So, could someone with a murder conviction live at Castle IV?
“Yes. We have people living here who came out of prison after 48 years for a murder they did when they were 16 years old. The likelihood of them doing it now is zero,” says Goldstein.
People with mental health or substance abuse issues will have supportive services to keep their progress on track. Those requiring high levels of care in these areas will not be eligible for Castle IV.
Everyone who enters Fortune’s ecosystem has access to its programming promoting work readiness, educational attainment, psychological and physical well-being, and social engagement. In addition to on-site case managers, tenants at Castle IV will have easy access to Fortune’s classes and support teams in Harlem and Long Island City.
Community building and fun are also part of the mix.
“We have very talented tenants, so Music Cafe nights are very popular,” says Goldstein. As is Castle Gardens’ giant Halloween party attended by hundreds of local families. Tenants also regularly volunteer at local churches and synagogues; Fortune expects the same will happen on the UWS. “I spoke with Pastor Miller at the church on 93rd and Broadway this morning. They do so many good things for the community. We’re going to encourage our folks to get involved in that.”
Walking through Castle Gardens’ spotless hallways, stairwells, library, solarium, computer lab, community spaces, refuse rooms, laundry room and garden roof deck – each floor adopts its own planter – there was no indication that this apartment building is different from any other. Except perhaps quieter and better kept, a testament to the residents and Geewan, the super, who is raising his two kids here as a single dad. “We enjoy the opportunity to learn from all kinds of people,” he says.
The affection tenants have for staff and each other was palpable. A woman in a wheelchair scooted right up to Richards for a lobby hug; another tenant heard his deep voice and poked her head out of her apartment to embrace him. “When you treat people like they matter, they show up like they matter,” says Richards. “It’s about showing the love that’s in our hearts.”
Fortune Society intends to show the UWS that love as Castle IV moves forward with necessary renovations and program preparations.
“Nobody’s moving in for at least a year, so we have plenty of time to get to know each other and answer everyone’s questions,” says Goldstein.
People should expect to see the Fortune team around a lot. Not just in the coming months, but for the lifetime of the project. “We’ve been attending Community Board 9, Riverside Park and local NYPD precinct meetings for 22 years now,” says Richards. “We will do the same on the Upper West Side.”
Indeed, next Monday, February 28th, Fortune will present at CB7’s Housing Committee Zoom meeting at 6:30 p.m. To attend, register here.
Fortune will also attend the next 24th Precinct Community Council meeting on Wednesday, March 16th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Bloomingdale Library, 150 W. 100th Street.
“We’ll meet with anyone who wants to learn more,” says Goldstein. “We’re going to offer everybody a tour here to see what we’ve done.” [More on that in the coming days.]
The team is even open to answering questions right here in WSR’s comments, as appropriate.
Such candor and transparency, they believe, will lead to fulfilling a vision of success on 97th Street.
“Picture this,” says Richards. “People have moved in. They have been welcomed. They’re participating in the community, becoming part of its very fabric, its diversity, its strength. They’re volunteering. They’re adding value. They are going about living their lives and have a place they can call home for as long as they want.”
How ‘bout putting some supportive housing on the Upper East Side? The Upper West Side has way more than its share with at least a thousand beds. The UES? Four.
The fairness question pitting UWS against UES seems strange to me. I’d rather ask:
How is it fair to house people that have no reason to be in city (e.g. no expectation to work) in one of the most expensive areas in the world while regular people need to carefully budget when deciding where to live.
For those who do have prospects of getting job, are there incentives to graduate from this program, i.e. dead-line of say 5 years, so that this awesome opportunity can be made available to somebody else.
Agreed. Let’s also push out the elderly who are occupying valuable housing stock here and driving up rents for economically productive, working-age New Yorkers.
You raise a good point, Brandon. If a senior (say after retirement) is unable to afford to live in a place (despite tax and other subsidies), is it reasonable to expect her to move to a smaller apartment or a cheaper neighborhood? If the answer is no, what incentives does this create?
i wonder why that is. Maybe money is being spent to make that not happen — the big money is UES. But who are the people involved and who is getting lobbied? UWS may have wealthy pockets but clearly not “connected” people.
And, with blocks and blocks of tbese supportive buildings… I wish them well, but I wont venture anywhere near the 90s on the UWS. I wish the men well, but I don’t get why this is the only real estate available within Manhattan. Must is always be Manhattan? As someone mentioned, it would be great if our police or teachers could afford to live here too
In this particular situation, it looks as if the City acquired the building via legal proceedings and made available to the Fortune Society:
“…result of a $1.1 million settlement with illegal hotelier Hank Freid..The city’s lawsuit against Freid has generated nearly $2 million in penalties and resulted in the seizure of…258 West 97th Street and two other illegal hotels.”
Dear ml, Fortune purchased the building on the open market through a broker for $11 million. The sale closed on January 31, 2022. Financing will include funding from a number of government, philanthropic and private sources.
No. See first link in this story to read last week’s announcement of the project. Fortune bought the building for $11 million.
Because the UWS has so many old hotels and SROs, programs flock here to use the existing structures.
Exactly. This goes back to the 60s and 70s when landlords on the UWS walked away from half empty buildings and the City took them in tax foreclosure proceedings.
Most of the since rehabbed properties are back on the market, though usually as “affordable” housing, but some are used for supportive housing.
And people pay 3 million and up for 3 bedrooms on the same block as some of these.
Indeed, for all the comparisons, the fact is that with the exception of Fifth and Park Avenues, co-op and condo prices on the UWS are as high or higher than for equivalent units on the UES.
Thanks for the clarification.
In that case quite shocked that the Fortune Society had so much money to purchase a Manhattan building
Yes, there are neighborhoods other than UWS.
Not to mention that the idea of “affordable” in the middle of a very expensive real-estate seem to apply to formerly incarcerated and addicts only. The police and teachers, who deserve to live in the area where they work, don’t get such breaks.
Fantastic! Welcome to the UWS!
Can you explain how there is zero likelihood for a murderer to commit another murder? …..
Dear neighbor, Fortune is committed to running a safe building and protecting community safety, as has been our track record in the housing that we have run for over 20 years. Every applicant who has been involved with the criminal justice system will be very carefully screened by experienced Fortune staff. No one assessed as posing a threat of violence will be accepted to live in the building. These tenants will have access to Fortune’s services, including education, job training, job placement, counseling, etc. In fact, many of the tenants will already be Fortune clients. As Ms. Bergmann’s story says, Fortune has two decades of experience operating housing for people with criminal histories like Castle Gardens, a 114-unit apartment building where more than half of the tenants have justice involvement – and yes, some tenants have served time for homicide. I’d be more than happy to give you a tour of Castle Gardens so you can see, first-hand, how committed we are to ensuring that our buildings are safe and an asset to the community. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations at the Fortune Society. 347-510-3602
Hi… In what year did you become VP at fortune Society?
Recidivism drops off dramatically as people age into their thirties and older. Given what we know about the maturing of the brain, this should not be at all surprising. Do you do the same dumb stuff you did at 16?
Somehow, I think comparing murder, rape, etc as “dumb stuff” is a bit flippant.
Will the tenants be employed?
Will they clean up after their dogs (hopefully a lot better than current UWS residents do)?
Will neighbors be able to contact someone if they see something?
Dear Good Humor, Some of the tenants will have jobs. All of the tenants in our supportive units will have access to Fortune’s employment services program. Fortune’s goal is to make sure that our participants can live safely & independently.
No cats or dogs will be allowed in the building.
We are still more than a year away from moving new residents into the building. Once tenants begin to move in, we will let the community know whom to call in building management to voice concerns. There will be a 24-hour security presence in the lobby. In the interim, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations at the Fortune Society. 347-510-3602
Sherry, we have heard this same song and dance every time there is a new shelter or supportive housing coming. This area is beyond saturated with supportive housing. Can’t you understand why people are extremely skeptical of you?
Dear Bill, You should know that I am very familiar with what’s happening in the neighborhood. I’ve lived in this very community for 35 years. I raised my two daughters here. And yes, Fortune totally understands your skepticism. We are confident this building and our tenants will be a “positive” for the area. For the next year to 18 months – before any new tenants move in – we will meet with anyone and everyone who wants to, in to make sure that we address all the concerns you have. Please call me if you have any questions or if you want a tour of Castle Gardens. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations at The Fortune Society 347-510-3602
Bill, I urge you to take Sherry up on her offer. As I said in my comment below, I’ve visited their building in The Bronx — in fact, I helped someone who had been living in the Belnord move in — and was thoroughly impressed. The Fortune Society has a tough vetting process for tenants and they are proud to be living there. My friend now has stability after two years in the shelter system and is moving forward with his life.
This sounds like a commendable not for profit.
The issue is that this part of the upper west side already has more than its fair share of subsidized housing, supervised housing, and housing for the mentally ill. Some well managed and some not well managed.
Starting with the NYCHA Frederick Douglass Housing, then several buildings on Broadway between 96 and 101st, also on 101st between Broadway and Amsterdam, and 102nd between Broadway and Amsterdam
There is a conversion planned at 101st on the west side of Broadway as well.
This is a partial list but clearly something is not right that more supportive housing is being planned for a neighborhood that is already providing significant housing for this population.
Interestingly, Dennis Kozlowski, ex-CEO of Tyco, who served 6 years in prison, is the head of the board at Fortune Society.
This sounds like a fantastic organization — welcome to the UWS!
Perhaps there is hope after all. Every other shelter and supportive housing experiment has been disastrous for the neighborhood, but it appears that this operator truly has their act together and understands the very real concerns that we have. Let’s make sure everyone is held accountable.
Even better if Fortune’s competence and care influence how other UWS providers run their buildings. One can hope!
Agreed. They are being supported, which is good.
we do have time to get this right, and we are going to have all our mew community partners part of the discussion for UWS.
I would love and appreciate to be considered into The Castle Gardens community is there an application I could submit? I’ll leave my information below Please contact me 🙏
Hi Maura. I couldn’t see your contact info. Please call me and I will connect you with the right person at Castle Gardens. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations, The Fortune Society 347-510-3602
From 94th to 104th and Broadway area is saturated with supportive housing, accompanied by aggressive panhandling and violent shoplifters. Restaurants and ATM Banks on this corridor – Popeyes, McDonalds, and Chase – usually cannot be entered without avoiding solicitation or stepping around a homeless person.
As each supportive housing is brought the neighborhood is reassured by its political representatives that there is no need for concern, despite the declining safety of the adjacent area. I’m baffled to keep hearing the same sales pitch.
What a fantastic article and initiative. Proud that NYC can help Fortune and these folks. Congrats to all involved!
Fortune Society, Broadway in the 90’s is already overwhelmed with troubled individuals who currently have issues or unfortunately have bad intentions. The small businesses on Broadway have suffered from this tremendously the last 2 years including today. Many people avoid walking Broadway in the 90’s now so we have lost shoppers and continue to lose them. There are already 14 vacant storefronts from 96th to 104th. What is in place to make sure that those in the program who do not already have a job will be accountable and focused so not to add to the already untenable situation that we currently already struggle with? If there is a complaint, whether loitering, panhandling or shoplifting, what is done? These are not violent actions but cause substantial problems to the already struggling small businesses.
Dear Concerned Business owner, Every applicant who has been involved with the criminal justice system will be very carefully screened by experienced Fortune staff. Only those deemed able to live independently will be given a lease. These tenants will have access to Fortune’s services, including education, job training, job placement, counseling, etc. In fact, many of the tenants will already be Fortune clients when they move in. Supportive residents will each have an on-site case manager who is there to make sure that they have all the support they need to live as responsible neighbors. As we get closer to the move-in date (in approximately 12 to 18 months) we will let you know whom to call in building management to voice concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. Sherry Goldstein VP of Operations, The Fortune Society 347-510-3602.
Sherry, I appreciate your reply. I will look for additional information on what happens if someone is not using all of your services and finds his or her way into trouble. There are 2 shelters/assisted housing that have caused problems on that very same block, west of Broadway, with 2 shelters/assisted housing around the Riverside Blvd corner. That is a substantial amount in any immediate area and is the case for 94th – 97th streets. If there is a problem with one of the carefully screened residents, it is important to know now what would happen. If we voice concerns to the building management, what happens? Problems are reported to the other assisted housing on 97th and nothing has been done.
Hello again Small Business Owner, While it’s difficult to answer your question in a vacuum about what would happen with a problematic tenant, if someone creates a problem or disturbance in the building or in the neighborhood, we would work to address the issue by offering our on-site services or intensive services. If the behavior doesn’t change we would proceed with actions up to and including evection. Sherry
Does anyone actually know for a fact that the seeming homeless panhandlers on the UWS (or shoplifters) are all residents of supportive housing? Shoplifters for one seem like very mobile young kids. I would prefer to be hopeful that this particular organization that has a good track record it seems be given the benefit of the doubt. Lord knows that just leaving people coming out of prison to languish and find their own way with no family support is a recipe for more problems. The majority of people in tough situations are not criminals. That being said, I do agree that UES needs to pick up some of the supportive housing.
Great, just what we need, more dumping of social ills into the neighborhood. I guess our quality of life just wasn’t low enough.
How many people are on their PR payroll? Great article. Seems very much an ad. Sherry, here are my questions: (1) when the city acquired the illegal building and then made it “for sale” to Fortune Society, was there ever a bidding process? (2) How are eligibility criteria for placement at Castle IV different from the other Castles? (3) Are there any lawsuits or have there been against fortune society by its residents in the last 5 years? (4) Level 1 sex offenders cannot be placed near a school, notwithstanding the law. (5) You state “some” have jobs, but not all. How does someone pay rent to live there if they don’t have a job and are registered as homeless? (6) how did fortune society decide that this was a good location for their next castle, or was it just a matter of NYC approach them with an opportunity? (7) are all the residents American citizens?
Dear E.L. I’ll answer your questions in order: 1. Fortune actually purchased the building on January 31, 2022 directly through a broker for $11 million. Financing will include funding from a number of government, philanthropic and private sources; 2. The screening criteria for the supportive units at 97th St. will be similar to that of Castle Gardens; 3. It would be inappropriate for us to comment as to whether there are lawsuits by tenants against Fortune; 4. We will follow the laws as to sex offender residency near schools; 5. As to income of residents, Fortune encourages employable residents to obtain earned income through our robust job placement and training services, but we recognize that some of our residents will be elderly or disabled and will rely on such rental sources as public assistance or social security; 6. Fortune acquired the property on the open market; and 7. As with any other NYC apartment building, residence is not restricted to American citizens. And, to answer your previous question, I have been at The Fortune Society for 19 years. Sherry 347-510-3602
Sounds no different from the last 20 years of plans that have left the neighborhood overpopulated with undesirable residents. Call me whatever you like. I say truth.
glad to see something like this, every body deserves a 2nd chance in life
Welcome, and thank you for your work. A constructive practical approach to homelessness. If Fortune accepts donations, I’ll be proud to contribute.
Hi Marjorie. Thanks for your kind words. For more information about The Fortune Society, please visit our website at http://www.fortunesociety.org. Thanks! Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations 347-510-3602
Boyfriend lives next door to castle Garden on West 140 st. No problems there – a fine neighbor/neighbors
wonderful to read of the openness of the Fortune Society we need more of that in today’s society
This story is nothing more than a PR release. It’s completely one-sided. Did you talk to people in the neighborhood? Did you go through city records to see if there has been any violations? So many questions should’ve been asked. I’m not on one side or the other, but this is shabby reporting.
Thanks for reading. WSR will have upcoming stories about neighborhood impact and more. As you know, supportive housing is a huge issue on the UWS and requires multiple pieces exploring different angles.
So many nasty comments. Well that’s to be expected from WSR. We need to tackle and work on the homeless problems in our city which are over the top. Having supportive staff available is extremely important and I say we need to help get people into housing.
How much supportive housing can this sliver of the UWS support? How about setting up some in or CPW? There are valid concerns for the safety of this specific area that can’t be brushed aside so easily.
Thank you for this article. The Fortune Society, as others have said here, IS a fantastic organization. I have visited their new building in The Bronx and I can attest that the depiction of Castle Gardens also fits Washington Ave. In fact, I helped one of the residents of Washington Ave. — a formerly incarcerated man I became friends with when he was living in the Belleclaire Hotel — move in. I was so impressed with the help he has been given by The Fortune Society that I have become a financial supporter.
Many of you keep saying that the ‘UWS has more than its fair share of supportive housing.’ Can anyone provide a list of the different buildings/programs to back that up?
My only concern is whether residents with substance use issues will be soliciting cash on the corner, where we already have lots of that activity. This sounds like a well-run program, so I would hope they would take steps to prohibit that kind of thing.
While everyone is entitled to live in a home, not everyone is entitled to live in a place where the homes are 1.5 million and up.
This is a misguided use of societys limited reources. New York CIty is losing many of its upper income taxpayers because of the perceived and actual safety issue. So much more could be done for many more people in a more reasonable way in a more logical place.
The problem is you know as well as I do the suburbs are positively dreadful. I’d suggest all of the upper crust society families just head out since they seem so unhappy, but I know they won’t because the thought of having to live anywhere outside of the city scares them more than a working class person of color sitting on their street corner. So, unfortunately for you, the rest of our neighborhood who aren’t upper class blue bloods are here to stay. You can’t isolate yourself from the rest of New York, not anymore.
Sounds like Heaven. Wish developers making so much $$$$ here would ‘give back to the community’. How about similar affordable housing for low income seniors?
Why are these residences always on the UWS? Why aren’t they in other parts of the city, downtown, East side, Village, Brooklyn, Queens? The UWS is loaded with families and children and schools. This is not an appropriate area for this kind of housing. Already the pharmacies and stores are robbed daily. Now it will be out of control.
Because there are no families in Queens, Brooklyn, the village, downtown, or on the east side?
A really great article.
The Fortune Society is a stellar organization, and have done a lot for formerly incarcerated + justice-involved folks in NYC.
The holistic approach is not happening and many of the living facilities our UWS neighbors are complaining about.
A story about a 2020 Fortune Society tenant:
“Flooded, arrested, assaulted: A landlord’s horror story
“We are going to tear your house apart when we are finished with it.”
Dear West 90’s, dc, Carol & Elena, The Fortune Society agrees with you. This was an untenable and awful situation. Sylvia Cruz was a sub-tenant in an individual (scatter site) apartment where Fortune was the prime lease holder. From the start of her sub-leasing our apartment we knew she was a bad tenant. Fortune did everything we could to address the problems she and her partner caused, including, trying to move her out of the apartment, reporting her to the police and filing eviction notices. All of this was made worse by the COVID eviction moratorium and the subsequent backlog in housing court. Our hands were tied, and we could not remove her from the apartment for the duration of the moratorium and until our eviction case could be heard. Thankfully, after Fortune persevered for months in housing court, Sylvia Cruz is no longer living at the property. We deeply regret the hardship that the property owner endured. Fortune is currently repairing the damage caused by the tenant.
Currently Fortune houses more than 400 people successfully in our transitional and permanent housing. The Sylvia Cruz matter was an aberration. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations 347-510-3602
Horrifying story. The claim from Fortune that “Anyone assessed as posing a current risk of danger to themselves or the community will be excluded,” was clearly not the case in this situation. Very concerning for the safety of this community.
I would be interested in what Fortune Society has to say about what happened in that particular situation.
That is a horrifying story, if Fortune wants to live up to their promise of transparency they need to respond to the community regarding this story.
Wow, horrifying story.
I have been volunteering for the Fortune Society for some time, and the culture of the community there is filled with love and hope. Yes, murder is a horrible crime, and perpetrators must be held fully accountable. Yet many of the perpetrators grew up in violent neighborhoods, and were swept up in violence in their communities as kids. In prison, after decades of reflection, remorse, education, and hard work to improve themselves while taking responsibility for what they have done, they can become wonderful, contributing members of society. You would be amazed at the beauty within the people who may be your neighbors! Shelters can include people like this, too, but this is NOT a shelter. As they’ve said, the residents will be fully vetted and supervised. I will not be at all surprised if they become your most mindful, contributing, and GRATEFUL neighbors on the block. I understand your cynicism, but… give them this chance to build a new, meaningful life.
We Upper West Siders need to vote out our Democratic representatives. I am politically liberal, but enough is enough. Why isn’t enough being done to house the new working poor–law-abiding, working people? It’s bad enough we can’t take the subway in peace, now we’ll barely be able to walk the streets. The program should be for the new working poor–cops, firefighters, teachers, etc.,–people without incarceration records, people who will not raise potential dangers in a densely packed neighborhood with families, children, and an elementary school around its corner. We should all show up to our next community board meeting and fight this thing to the hilt. Or else, look for a more peaceful–and safe–place to live. Wouldn’t all the landlords love that?
50 ex cons moving in next door. Every parent’s dream.
Upper 90s is the city government’s toilet.
This is fantastic news! The community of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church welcomes you to the neighborhood!
As it is becoming obvious from the comments here, there is too much supportive housing in our neighborhood, specifically between 95th and 101st, not including the Douglass Houses. Our neighborhood is a magnet for supportive housing — yet the people who work in our neighborhood, teachers, shopkeepers, vendors, cops, firefighters — mostly commute from Queens, Bronx, and elsewhere. There is a shortage of affordable and market rate housing in our neighborhood.
It’s said here that the building was purchased for $11m in public and private funds — but purchased from whom? Why $11m? To whom will that money go?
I’m thinking of the 15 tenants who have lived in this building through thick and thin, in hazardous conditions that are perilous to life, who will probably have to endure another renovation and being sucked into a supportive housing environment; I’m thinking of the seniors that will be moving into this non-ADA-accessible building, of its tiny rooms and rickety elevator. Sure, the Castle building in the Bronx sounds like a dream — but the building on 97th is small, pre-war (is it landmarked?), it has no outdoor space (unless you consider making a gateway to the Lotus Garden?!!)… it will be a challenge to the SRO residents, to the folks who win the housing lottery, who do not have criminal histories and do not want to be treated as former offenders.
It sounds like the Fortune Society are good people — but why not take this project that you’re buying for $11m, sell it to a developer, and find a bigger property in an area not so densely packed with supportive housing?
I’m still waiting for someone to post the stats on supportive housing by zipcode — this must be public information, no? There are two supportive houses on 97th between West End and Riverside already.
We need more support for the people who work in the neighborhood, our teachers, cops, medical workers, make them affordable!
That’s what I’ve got.
Dear Jonas, The Fortune Society is committed to maintaining safety, security and a good standard of living for all 97th Street residents. The building will undergo renovations including minor exterior work. On the interior, you’re right, some of the rooms are too small to be permanent housing. So, we will take the existing 92 rooms and create 82 units of permanent affordable housing. Fifty-eight (58) units will be supportive for homeless people with prior justice involvement. The other 24 will be affordable housing units for people from the community – including the current 15 tenants who have leases and will stay in the building. The remaining rooms will be utilized for a live-in superintendent’s unit, to improve egress, accessibility, and to provide office space for Fortune staff. We will create a new full kitchen and community dining area where tenants can eat together, as part of our community building efforts, and receive life skills training from our staff. During renovations, we will work to ensure that our 15 current tenants experience as little inconvenience as possible. Because we are in a Landmarked District, our renovations will be submitted to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for approval.
Every tenant will be treated with dignity and respect. Other than having full access to Fortune’s full array of services, no one is treated like a “former offender.” Our successful housing model of mixing supportive apartments with affordable units works seamlessly at Castle Garden at W. 140th Street near Riverside Drive. Please take me up on my invitation to come to Castle Gardens to see how successful the building is and to meet the good people who work here. Sherry Goldstein, VP of Operations 347-510-3602
YES, and AMEN. Please people, attend the Community Board Housing Committee Meeting tonight and voice your opinions. The amount of problems your local small businesses have on a DAILY basis is something you can’t imagine. Just ask ANY of them. Broadway in the 90’s will become a barren wasteland because we can’t manage the supportive housing we have and all its issues.
It is NOT readily available public information the count of shelters/assisted housing/supported housing on the UWS or even just in the 90’s. Most likely on purpose. But 3 on one block (97th) with 2 around the corner (95th & 94th), should tell you all something.
I wish people would speak out for the businesses and your fellow neighbors on these blocks. Please help.
[…] of the upper west 90s expressed open-mindedness — laced with worry — about the new permanent supportive housing program being created at 258 W. 97th Street, which previously was an illegal […]