MOUNT HOPE — A long-vacant building in The Bronx is on its way to becoming permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence.
The nine-story tower, which will be known as The Morris, was completed in 2010 but never occupied. It was originally constructed as an affordable condominium building, but the 2008 financial crisis made finding buyers extremely difficult.
The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development hoped to find a developer to take over and reuse the property. The agency proposed the idea to New Destiny Housing, a New York City nonprofit founded to provide housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and their children.
New Destiny is now converting the site into an affordable rental building with 39 units, 19 of which will be for domestic violence survivors and 19 for low-income residents. The remaining unit will be set aside for a live-in super.
The building was appealing to New Destiny because It was close to other projects the organization had worked on and included some relatively large apartments, said the group's executive director Carol Corden.
"The building contained 11 three-bedroom units, which are extremely unusual in New York City," she said, "so there was the possibility of actually providing housing for slightly larger families."
Most domestic violence survivors coming out of shelters are families, mainly women and children, Corden continued. Some can wait years to get into permanent housing in the New York City Housing Authority system.
Bank of America provided a roughly $8 million investment for the project. Jill Edwards, a senior vice president at the company, said she felt the building would be very good for Mount Hope.
"These are families, and many domestic violence survivors are just like any other person in the community," she said. "They work. They take care of their children. So I think it will be a great addition to the neighborhood."
New Destiny plans to include an on-site tenant support coordinator with the project and, if money allows, a recreation specialist for children who would work on programs like field trips, tutoring and after-school activities.
"If they’ve been in very dangerous or violent situations, they often are very frightened themselves," Corden said of the children, "so you’re really trying to help them just get involved in age-appropriate activities that allow them to just be kids."
The nonprofit hopes to open the building this fall and expects it to be fully occupied by the end of the year. It is working on landscaping, creating an office for social services staff in the basement and making a couple of the bathrooms handicap accessible, among other efforts.
Corden stressed that the building would provide permanent housing for domestic violence survivors, not just a temporary place to live. On average, people stay in New Destiny's buildings for four or more years.
"This is not a shelter," she said. "This is affordable rental housing where people get a lease and stay there as long as they fulfill the obligations of tenants. It's a really huge need for this particular population."