NYC Health + Hospitals And Others Announce Housing For Formerly Incarcerated Needing Specialty Care

NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) today announced Just Home.

A project to house New Yorkers with complex medical needs after they leave jail. Patients with medical needs such as congestive heart failure, stage 4 cancer, and end-stage renal disease which make placement in the City’s homeless shelters unfeasible will be eligible for this program.

The project will also offer much-needed affordable housing. Just Home will create approximately 70 studio apartments and a two-bedroom apartment for a live-in superintendent in a vacant building at 1900 Seminole Avenue on the NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi campus in the Bronx. Correctional Health Services, a division of NYC Health + Hospitals and the direct provider of health care in the City’s jails, will identify patients based on clinical and other needs. Just Home will address their needs through intensive, on-site social services provided by licensed clinical social workers, dedicated peer workers, and specialists, as well as close access to the health services at Jacobi Hospital. The Fortune Society will act as the developer, manager, and social service provider for the project. Fortune’s Castle Gardens residence, which opened in 2010 and has become an integral and valued part of the West Harlem community, will serve as a model for Just Home.

NYC Health + Hospitals, HPD, and Fortune have engaged local elected officials, community organizations, and community members about the project. They look forward to continuing this work over the next several months, including community briefings with Council Member Velasquez and Bronx Community Board 11 in September, to ensure Just Home can best serve its tenants and neighbors.

“Every New Yorker deserves a permanent home,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Today’s announcement is a step in that direction and demonstrates the city’s commitment to providing care and delivering services to every person including those with a criminal justice history. Thank you to the teams of social workers, healthcare professionals, and all those involved in this work.”

“Every New Yorker deserves a safe home where they are able to live with dignity, and this includes our justice-involved neighbors,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “We are excited to partner with Health + Hospitals on Just Home. These 70 apartments will provide New Yorkers facing complex health issues with a home adjacent to the necessary health support they need from Jacobi Hospital as well as onsite social services. As we strive to create a more equitable and affordable New York City, we are proud to advance the Just Home project and look forward to working with all New Yorkers to build even more housing in order to provide everyone a home that works for them, their family, and their personal circumstances.”  

“Just Home aligns with NYC Health + Hospitals’ mission to deliver high-quality health services to our patients and to improve the health and well-being of all New Yorkers – especially the most marginalized, such as our patients who have come into the care of Correctional Health Services,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “We know that stable, affordable housing is critical to our patients’ health and well-being and that supportive housing projects like Just Home can improve residents’ health outcomes and prevent hospitalizations.”

“New York City has a dire need for supportive housing for our most vulnerable citizens, and few are more vulnerable than those exiting the justice system with serious health conditions,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Fortune Society has a long, proven record of helping justice-involved New Yorkers reintegrate with their communities, while NYC Health + Hospitals has the expertise to ensure residents receive the level of care and attention we all deserve.”

“The need for supportive, affordable housing for our medically frail, unhoused patients was evident as soon as Correctional Health Services became the direct provider of health care in the City’s jails in 2016,” said Patsy Yang, DrPH, Senior Vice President for NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services. “To see Just Home start to become a reality is remarkable. The opportunity to live in permanent housing in a dignified setting with close access to health care and social services will be a life-changing – and potentially life-saving – experience for some of our most vulnerable patients.”

“We are excited and honored to have been selected by HPD to serve as the not-for-profit developer for Just Home. The Fortune Society has provided New York City with nationally recognized services for people with criminal justice history since our founding in 1967 and has developed and operated highly regarded housing models for the last 20 years,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society. “Our shared vision for the building is clear: to provide safe, affordable housing and robust social services to medically complex homeless individuals, mixed with affordable housing for the larger community. We look forward to serving as good neighbors to the local community, as we have done with our other housing and service locations.”

“At a time when our city is facing a housing crisis and people are being released from jails and prisons right into the shelter system, the need for Just Home could not be clearer. We are grateful for the opportunity to develop Just Home because it is the kind of housing our city needs now: with affordable units as well as supportive apartments for people with serious medical needs who are being released from jail,” said Stanley Richards, Deputy CEO, The Fortune Society. “Housing is foundational to a person’s well-being, especially for people in the process of reentry from prison or jail. We know from our decades of safely housing people with conviction histories that they can be good neighbors. The neighborhoods that are home to our developments can attest to that.” 

“The Bronx needs supportive housing for people with serious health conditions. Providing a stable residence is an important step toward ending the cycle of homelessness and recidivism. Investing resources on individuals who return home from incarceration with supervision and appropriate medical care raises the level of health in our neighborhood, which promotes community safety,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark. “At this early juncture in a long process, I believe we must enlist the support of community residents and stakeholders alike to ensure long term success. Further, I will continue to urge the city to create supportive housing for those who are homeless and navigating mental health challenges. We must exhaust every opportunity to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community.”

“After someone is released from city custody, it’s critical we do not abandon them or ignore their needs, especially medically. Supportive housing can be a medical necessity for anyone living with serious health conditions, and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers face additional unique barriers,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Just Home will provide an invaluable service to our neighbors with complex medical diagnoses, guaranteeing supportive housing, protecting some of our most vulnerable, and ensuring consistent health care. These kinds of support structures are vital to public health and public safety.”

“Access to safe and affordable housing is a determinant of health and critical to advancing health equity. The Just Home program is an important step towards building a healthier and safer City for all,” said Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, President of The New York Academy of Medicine. “Outdated housing eligibility requirements have limited options for people who have been incarcerated, many of whom are older adults coming out of the justice system. With thanks to NYC Health + Hospitals, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and The Fortune Society, this program is poised to save lives and improve public health.”

“Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) believes that stable, quality housing is critical for anyone to achieve their highest level of health. The Just Home initiative is a turning point in aligning public health and justice reform with affordable and supportive housing to address the complex and often unmet health needs of people experiencing incarceration,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “The justice system disproportionally impacts black, Indigenous and People of Color, and this initiative also addresses long-standing racial inequities.”

“A safe, affordable home is a basic right for everyone, and the fact that so many vulnerable New Yorkers currently do not have access to affordable housing exacerbates historic inequality and perpetuates a cycle of incarceration and poverty,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “The new Just Home initiative is a meaningful step in the right direction for our city, and will help demonstrate that there is a better model out there – and that it starts with housing. We applaud New York City, The Fortune Society, and everyone who made this possible for their work on this vital initiative.”

“No one should be deprived of a home because of their health conditions or past involvement with the justice system,” said Baaba Halm, Vice President and New York Market Leader at Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise applauds The Fortune Society and NYC Health + Hospitals on the Just Home initiative, which will provide much-needed permanent, supportive housing for formerly incarcerated, homeless New Yorkers with complex medical needs.”

“Stable housing is one of the most important determinants of optimal health, particularly for medically complex patients,” said Anthony Shih, MD, MPH, former President of the United Hospital Fund. “I am excited about the potential of the Just Home initiative to transform the lives of one of New York’s most vulnerable populations – homeless persons released from jail with serious medical need.”

“This project will serve some of our most vulnerable neighbors in a Council District that has built just 58 units of affordable housing since 2014, and where opportunities to build new housing in the district are consistently opposed,” said William Thomas, Executive Director of Open New York. “Though this project is not a shelter, Community District 11 in Harlem is currently the only district in the Bronx without a Department of Homeless Services shelter, further proving that Morris Park and the surrounding areas are not doing their fair share to provide housing or shelter for their fellow New Yorkers. We are excited to support this project and will do what it takes to see its passage.”

“The Fortune Society has been a strong community neighbor since moving into our district over two decades ago,” said Manhattan Community Board 9 in Harlem District Manager Eutha Prince. “Its model is one that can be—and should be—replicated not just across the city but across our country.”

“This proposal is a humane and cost-effective initiative to help those in need, as well as an amenity for our community with affordable housing and community partnership,” said Friends of Pelham Parkway founder Roxanne Delgado. “People who are sick deserve medical care and a permanent home for comfort in their suffering. As founder of an organization that advocates for environmental and social justice, I believe the good in us outweighs the bad in us, and no one should be deprived of their dignity and rights because of their past transgressions.”

Just Home will be modeled on Fortune’s Castle Gardens residence, which opened in 2010 and has become an integral and valued part of the West Harlem community. Castle Gardens is a state-of-the-art green building with approximately 110,000 square feet of mixed-use space. It provides 114 units of permanent mixed affordable and supportive housing, including 63 supportive housing apartments for formerly incarcerated and formerly homeless tenants, 50 units of affordable housing for members of the community, and one apartment for a live-in superintendent. The building has 24/7 front desk coverage and robust on-site social services. It also features a green roof space and garden, community meeting spaces, a library, and a computer lab.

Just Home will ultimately require a ground lease between NYC Health + Hospitals and Fortune. Following a public hearing, the ground lease will need to be approved by the NYC Health + Hospitals Board of Directors and the New York City Council. Given the need for a succession of approvals, raising of capital dollars, and actual construction, it is estimated that the building will open for tenancy in approximately three years.

NYC Health + Hospitals:

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthandHospitals or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.

NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development:

Established in 1978, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promotes the quality and affordability of the city’s housing and the strength and diversity of its many neighborhoods. HPD works to achieve this mission by preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants, developing new affordable housing, enforcing the Housing Maintenance Code, and engaging neighborhoods in planning.

The Fortune Society:

Founded in 1967, The Fortune Society has advocated on criminal justice issues for over five decades and is nationally recognized for developing model programs that help people with criminal justice histories to be assets to their communities. Fortune offers a holistic and integrated “one-stop-shopping” model of service provision. Among the services offered are discharge planning, licensed outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment, alternatives to incarceration, HIV/AIDS services, career development and job retention, education, family services, drop in services and supportive housing as well as lifetime access to aftercare. For more information, visit www.fortunesociety.org.

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