By Carol Tannenhauser
On Tuesday night, at a joint Community Board 7 Housing and Health & Human Services committee meeting, Roderick L. Jones, executive director of Goddard Riverside Community Center, announced that financing has been secured for the creation of a permanent supportive residence on West 107th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. Goddard Riverside is partnering with Rockabill Development, a developer and consultant to nonprofit owners of affordable, supportive and transitional housing.
“This is not a shelter,” Jones told the committee members, emphatically. “We do not do shelters. Shelters for us are a bit too transient. This is permanent housing with supportive services.”
The “Stephan Russo Residence,” as it is called, will replace The Morningside Inn, which was operated by the previous owner as an illegal hotel. Goddard and Rockabill bought the property in 2021. The transaction returns it to its legal residential use, and preserves its classification as an SRO (Single Room Occupancy) property, “a housing type that at one point constituted more than 10 percent of the city’s housing stock,” according to a Goddard Riverside press release.
The residence is slated to open in late 2024 or early 2025, and will comprise 54 rooms, with private bathrooms, for men and women exiting street homelessness. The difference between these candidates and those who go into transitional safe havens is that these people are considered “housing ready” by the city, in the sense that they have all their required documentation. An additional 14 rooms will provide affordable housing to low-income tenants, including a handful of people currently living in the building. The building will be permanently rent stabilized, and every tenant will have a lease.
“Each floor of the six-story building will be outfitted with two communal kitchens and dining areas, which will be shared by six and seven tenants,” the press release explained. “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, which will be managed by Goddard Riverside. 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.”
The residence is named for former Goddard Riverside executive director Stephan Russo, an innovator in the fight against homelessness who helped create the supportive housing model. WSR profiled Russo when he retired from Goddard Riverside in 2016. Curbed provides a history of SROs.
This is a homeless shelter with extra steps.
When is this going to end?
Yes. There already is a “homeless shelter with extra steps “ on 108th street between Amsterdam and Columbus Ave – can’t they space out these shelters a bit instead of concentrating them all in a few blocks!
No, it is NOT a homeless shelter. This is permanent housing for formerly homeless people who are now able to live independently with the help of supportive services. This is a major step forward for these folks. There is nothing to fear.
No, it’s supportive housing in a building that’s been an SRO going back to the 1960s at least.
Supportive housing is a necessary and successful way of keeping marginal people properly housed and it’s been around for decades.
When the complaints don’t just stay in this comments section
This made me laugh – every time this sort of thing gets voted on, it’s overwhelmingly popular but NIMBYs in the comment section have convinced themselves they’re some silent majority
As long as Gale Brewer and Co are confident they are never going to be voted out.
They state emphatically that it is a permanent residence and not a transient shelter. Did you read the article or are you against both the homeless AND the poor?
You are not correct. Either you didn’t read the article or you do not understand the difference between supportive housing and homeless shelters. This is exactly the type of facility we need in order to ameliorate the homeless crisis.
It ends when the city stops its right to shelter policies. The homeless industrial complex doesn’t want that. This is a multi billion dollar business.
The Right To Shelter policies are due to a court order. You can’t just willy nilly decide not to follow the court order.
What would you like the city to do with homeless people instead of trying to find them homes?
Offer the existing tenants in the SRO’s that are being converted to supportive housing a decent buyout instead of forcing them to ‘mainstream’ an unfair majority of formerly homeless persons. At least in this building they won’t be sharing bathrooms with the new residents like at the Dexter House situation on 86th Street.
Open supportive housing facilities on the Upper East Side. The Upper West bears an unfair burden.
And yet prices here are higher than on the UES.
Why are people who cannot afford to live in a particular city – automatically the city’s responsibility? Why wouldn’t they move to a place they can afford to live?
There’s almost nowhere that low income and particularly disabled low income people can afford to live now. I am formerly homeless and disabled. I literally looked up and down the Eastern seaboard when I was trying to find housing for several years to no avail. It’s almost impossible to even rent a room now let alone a whole apartment and even if you could afford it there is a huge bias against you renting.
Landlords just don’t want you and your housing vouchers. They don’t care why you were homeless or why you have a housing voucher. They just assume the worst and deny you for any reason that they can think up that won’t sound like it’s about the voucher and your status as homeless.
I became disabled and went homeless after a natural disaster. I don’t drink, don’t smoke anything, and the only pain drug I take regularly is arthritis Tylenol. I’ve got health issues that preclude my drinking or doing drugs and a family history of addiction that makes it a very unattractive thing to me anyway. Before I became ill and disabled I worked for years as a retail manager and did child and elder care on the side. Later I got re-trained to do photography because I loved it and I had to work around my health situation and taking care of my then elderly and ailing Dad. I almost never wasn’t working at least two jobs, if not 3.
“Lazy” wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary.
When after my Dad died my own health situation escalated and a tropical storm damaged my house to the point where I couldn’t afford the repairs nobody cared. I got scammed into taking a bogus job here in NYC twice and paid the price for that too. It killed what was left of my health and I nearly died in 2018 from a massive bout of blood clots, landed in a shelter, and like so many I could have very well ended up ending it there.
I am two years in my own little studio on the UWS and I am entirely TOO grateful for affordable housing because if I did not have that and was not on disability now I’d likely be dead. That’s what being homeless inevitably is for a lot of people. It’s a one way street to the grave to be blunt for many people.
Yeah some of that is of course due to addiction but ill health and bad circumstances also play a huge part, particularly when you are talking about older homeless and disabled homeless people. Places like this they truly save lives.
I am proof positive of that.
I’m also a person who has called NYC and in particular the UWS home twice now for several years. It’s HOME. It’s always been where I am happy. NYC isn’t perfect and the UWS is 10X as expensive as I remembered it being but it’s still the place where I spent my youth and it’s still HOME so needless to say I was thrilled to be back after a couple of decades away. It was worth it all, all the pain and suffering I went through for six years, just to be back here, where I feel I belong.
You would never look at me now and realize that for six years I was homeless. That I slept on beaches and subways and ate in soup kitchens and that. I’m finally “normal” again and I’m immensely proud of that. It took a LOT of strength and will to survive all that.
Walking around the UWS though I hear the disdainful comments about my neighborhood being too full of “ex-street people” and how it’s a huge drag to everyone else here. Fact is the people in these buildings are mostly not the problem. We’re far too busy getting our act together and trying to have a normal life again to be a bother to anyone. I’m not saying there aren’t a few bad apples. There are but for the most part we’re not the “homeless” you feel are causing a ruckus. To keep our housing we have to comply with a lot of rules. We simply don’t have the luxury of being a problem if we want to stay.
My #1 priority is keeping my roof over my head.
But it does bother me when I read negative comments on here or hear things on the streets around here because I know how hard it is to stay housed. Something like 2 out of 5 people will return to being homeless. It takes dedication and hard work to get out and stay out. People like me I think they’ve earned a little respect. Unless you have been in my shoes you just haven’t a clue as to what it takes to be here.
NYC is not just the playground of the rich.
It’s my home too.
Just because I’m not paying 5K for an apartment here doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to live here.
When I was sleeping on the subway the only thing that kept me going some days was the sun coming up over the skyline. I just wanted to stay and be a part of this great city that I’ve always loved again.
Now I finally am.
I really wish you all the best but please don’t begrudge me that? I’ve been so far down and so ill. I’ve survived so much just trying to stay here. I think I deserve better. We all do. We deserve your compassion and if we succeed at least a minimum of your respect.
We’re not just ex-homeless.
We’re PEOPLE just like you and many of us are your neighbors.
Give us a change and don’t blanket condemn people. A lot of us simply want to thrive and be the best New Yorkers that we can be. That’s not so very much to ask. 🙂
Exactly. They can be housed and cared for at a much lower cost somewhere other than one of the most expensive cities in America. And this is not being a NIMBY. It is using money intelligently. Many of them have no ties to NY.
Also, I would be much more accepting of this if more of the residents of places like this were making some effort to work and contribute to society. There are plenty of jobs out there that are available and need to be done. They might not be fun, but such is life. If they were making some effort to do something and pay for their homes rather than just hanging out, people would be less opposed. And again, if there aren’t jobs here, I know there are lots of jobs in places outside of New York.
I have served on community advisory boards for supportive services for decades, You make assumptions that are actually untrue. Many of these folks have jobs.They are making every effort to be contributing citizens, How do you know they are not? Many work minimum wage jobs. Minimum wage jobs, while necessary for the functioning of business doesn’t allow people to pay rent, feed themselves and put food on their table. Some are dealing with past problems but the fact that they are now eligible for this kind of housing means they are able to live independently. This is a good thing.
The ‘send them elsewhere ‘mentality is half of the problem!
And people shouldn’t assume they’re able to work — many might be disabled.
I have asked a few of the regular street beggars why they don’t get work in the neighborhood. They show up everyday. They engage with passersbys. They carry on conversations in ways that make you think they are capable of holding employment. My question was not well received. I was told in both cases that begging is their job. They receive a host of tax paid services so they can live with dignity and they still choose to beg for money. Money that goes unreported, tax free, and it doesn’t affect their benefits that they get for being unable to work. Isn’t this so they won’t have to be a beggar?
Don’t hate the player, hate the game
If nobody gave them a dime, they wouldn’t panhandle. I really really wish they would get off the streets and all get the help they need. Just sayin’
When we start taking care of people so they don’t end up homeless in the first place.
Not OUR responsibility.
I’m an atheist, but even I would fear the wrath of God for saying that I had no responsibility for the poor in my city.
What would Jesus do?
We live in a society, not a vacuum.
Seriously? You’d rather they go untreated, unsupervised, and be on the streets?
I’d rather that they be given shelter, food, medical care and mandatory treatment/pharmaceuticals in a secure facility (with locks, keys, and guards), far, far, far, far, far away from me and my family. Somewhere upstate. Somewhere out of state. Somewhere with a lower cost of living, and a lower likelihood of recidivism, and fewer innocent people to serve as targets when they inevitably relapse and/or re-offend.
“The difference between these candidates and those who go into transitional safe havens is that these people are “housing ready,” in that they have all their required documentation.”
What documenation? Documenation of WHAT?
This is flim-flam, shim-sham, double-speak semantics of the BS variety.
Why not find out?
The material referenced sounds very promising. Here are the excerpts:
“ To be NY/NY I and II eligible (or eligible for supportive housing created by these agreements), individuals have to be homeless and have a serious and persistent mental health condition. For example, Major Depression, Bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia are just a few of the diagnoses that could help someone qualify for supportive housing. ”
Just the right kind of folk to be placed in the midst of residential area next to schools. Clearly shelter providers don’t stop at anything to make their buck. Our reps don’t do anything to stop this.
So to be mentally is a requirement?! Great. Who thinks that housing mentally ill and severely so (bipolar, schizophrenia) right in the middle of a residential neighborhood is a great idea?!
It’s a city, what neighborhood accessible to the subway and social services isn’t “residential”. You make it sound like we’re living in Mt. Kisco
This program is decades old. You likely have one nearer to your home than you think. Odds are you walk past some regularly.
I have one, with about 290 residents, a block away. Doesn’t affect me in the least and doesn’t affect the prices on the 10 million dollar condos just across the street.
Just a new name for shelter
Fantastic, glad to see more housing options being made available to those who would otherwise be on the streets
I applaud this. Permanent supportive housing is on of the few tools we have to reduce homelessness. It’s a far better use of this facility than an illegal hotel.
Agreed. The first step in breaking the cycle of homelessness is to get people off the street into somewhere they feel safe, with a sense of permanence. Once you’ve fulfilled the psychological need for safety you can address the other problems – mental health, addiction, etc.
When we vote in administration that cares about local families instead of pandering to the homeless industry, real estate developers
and hotels lobbyists.
The most insulting thing that all these deals are sold to the public as acts of compassion and caring. They are not. They are dirty business deals at the expense of local families who actually pay for them.
Do you know that supportive housing developments were created under Koch, Giuliani, and Dinkins?
The building on Broadway, 85 – 86, was opened under Koch, 290 units. Thousands of people a day walk by, use the subway entrance on the block, shop the grocer, drop off at the dry cleaner, eat a slice of pizza. And a block west condos have sold for 10 million and up..
The notion that this is something new or foisted on us is pretty tired nonsense and that is what’s “insulting.”
Oh, by the way, were you here when this building was an unregulated SRO in the ’60s, with residents panhandling on the corner?
Everyone is complaining all the time about how more and more people are sleeping in the streets in their neighborhoods blah blah blah and the shelter system is so bad blah blah blah…so this is an alternative to sleeping in streets/shelters right? The commenters who are not into this housing are entitled to their opinions, but it sure would be nice to have them voice some productive ideas along with their negativity.
You can refer to the previous discussion threads. Dozens of the ideas that don’t involve the most densely populated residential area that in addition is very expensive.
I read all of the discussion threads, thanks. As I said, would love to hear some productive ideas. Totally willing to listen to what you or anyone else would advise, as well as why you consider less-populated areas to be more ideal (since otherwise it sounds like you mean pretty much just not your neighborhood). And remember that low-income people with all of their documentation in place as explained in the above article have a right to housing in a place which offers it, regardless of where this place is located. I sincerely hope that you are not suggesting otherwise.
It is not an alternative. It is an option. Same amount of homeless will still be sleeping in the streets. Even more because new residents of SRO will join the local homeless population too.
This seems like a good way to get people off the street. I hope it works!
With new supportive housing that is ADA accessible maybe the City will terminate “open streets” on Amsterdam and Columbus – and return normal M7 and M11 bus access which people deserve
So we got:
*Safe Haven (which is not a shelter we are told)
*New SRO (another non-shelter)
*Hotels dedicated to migrants
*Schools accepting the entire population of refugee children in the area
Anything for law-abiding, tax-paying middle class citizens? Anything at all? Any discount housing for lower middle-class? New schools to help with long waiting lists for the local kids, and maybe, God forbid, a backyard?
Stop the madness!
And where do you propose “refugee” children go if not be admitted to schools?
Look up the word refuge.
And where do you propose local children go when waitlisted?
A backyard? We already have the best one on the planet, it’s called Central Park
And Riverside Park!
Sure, let’s coral all school children to Central Park during the recess.
As a law-abiding, tax-paying middle class citizen myself, I applaud the government looking for workable solutions for those less fortunate. I am aware that I live in a democratic society and part of the social contract is that all people within our nation’s borders deserve a decent place to live and food to eat. Life isn’t equal, but we should at least we do what we can to help others. Kindness and humanity.
My great-grandparents came here from Germany 120 years ago. Were it not for the opportunities afforded them, I doubt I would be where I am today.
We are not discussing helping others, so your example of your grandfather is irrelevant. We are discussing how to help the homeless in an efficient manner and not at the expense of neighborhood safety.
We are discussing helping others.
We are discussing WAYS of helping others, not the fact of helping itself.
Your post mentions both migrants and refugee children….so what’s your point?
My point is that we ARE discussing “helping others”. We live in a society, whether you like it or not.
I’m not denying that we need to help others. I don’t want to reiterate all the points already very well articulated in the comment section, you can re-read them.
We are discussing the best ways to help, not at the expense of families, yet you manage to twist the actual issue portraying it as unwillingness to help.
A backyard? Try Scarsdale
Are you against our children having a playground for recess? Ps 199, Anderson, etc. have them.
As far as Scarsdale is concerned, it would be more appropriate place for SRO as it has more space and is cheaper.
Amazing how some people go out of their way to virtue signal, even at the expense of the local children.
I grew up on the UWS during a much more ‘dangerous’ era statistically – and we played in the parks. In the playgrounds. Never had trouble finding places to play or complained about the amazing parks in the area (Riverside, Morningside, Central) which beat the hell out of a boring little lawn.
The kids have plenty of places to play. Try the red herring up the river they might buy it
As if the parks were safe back then. If your parents decided you could do that, it was up to them. Now you can get arrested for that.
Also the issue was about school children spending most of the day indoors during school.
As well I’m sick and tired about the survivors of the dangerous times. We want better lives for our children.
EXCELLENT. Supportive housing has long been a feature of this northern portion of the Upper West Side and is honestly what keeps it mixed up, class and race-wise. Beats the southern portion of the ‘hood for many many reasons.
Now to open up that half-block on 88th and Amsterdam that’s been warehoused, along with the buildings on broadway and 103-4….
Yet another homeless shelter on the UWS?! When will this end? One on 108th, now one more on 107th. Please stop. Crime, drugs will go through the roof.
Rockabill Development is not providing these SROs out of altruism.
This development project is receiving massive aid from NYC (ie NYC taxpayers) and massive tax breaks.
This project will be extremely profitable for Rockabilly.
This is a textbook example of the corruption behind the homeless and “affordable housing” industry.
The developers get wealthy and UWS residents get a crime ridden building full of homeless people.
Also, keep in mind Mark Levine and Gale Brewer are big proponents of this project.
Gale Brewer is behind many projects that hurt our community. Honestly I don’t know a single one benefiting our neighborhood that she is supporting.
Everyone wants to be liberal, until it affects them.
This neighborhood will continue to be the homeless & drug addicted refusge for the entire city until people do more than complain here. People have to complain directly to Gale Brewer & any other city council person and the mayor. Just because years ago there were many SRO’s here – that does not mean we have to have the majority of the homeless & drug addicted. We are all for helping our fellow human beings, I am all for helping our fellow human beings, but the rest of Manhattan and other boroughs need to take their share now FIRST.
BUT, we never complain more than here which is why the city knows – put them all on the UWS. Gale Brewer will be happy to take it. No one does anything to stop it.
I would love to see more housing for people who
work in the neighborhood but can’t afford high rents. People who don’t require wrap around supportive services or have debilitating mental or physical health issues but just don’t make enough to afford market rents. They don’t qualify for supportive housing. Yet they commute long distances every day to get here for work. Why can’t we offer housing for these folks? Why only if you are living on the street or are deemed debilitated? Our system effectively forces ppl to not be able to take care of themselves or want to work since they don’t qualify for assistance. If they land in one of these places, where is the incentive to address the issues that qualify them for the subsidies they are getting? I have heard of people losing them for being above an income threshold or being able to work. This system breeds govt dependency. And knowing how hard it is to find affordable housing, this is where you stay even if you could be more independentt.
I totally agree. While we have to help people who can’t help themselves, we need to think of other groups who will benefit greatly from subsidised housing, people who work but can’t afford live close to their employment (police, firefighters, teachers)
And again – why the homeless have to be housed in the most expensive area? That doesn’t make the slightest economic sense other than enriching the service providers.
“why the homeless have to be housed in the most expensive area? ”
UWS isn’t even up there with the most expensive area of the city. It’s always been mixed income. It’s really transparent when people worry about THE POORS because of their property value.
We live in a society. Societies take care of everyone. The indigent, the ill, the incarcerated. Or they used to, pre-Reagan. Some of us aren’t too happy with Neoliberal York City like the “new people”
How wonderful. The city needs more affordable housing.
I think if someone has the key to a door and a place to hang his or her hat, the crime rate will go down not up.
I’m not familiar with the population that go into these “shelters”. Are they required to work to be a contributing member of the society and eventually get out?
Excellent! Nice work Goddard-Riverside!