BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A group of nearly two dozen formerly homeless veterans have a new residence in Brooklyn thanks to renovations from local and state organizations.
A newly renamed Bed-Stuy building from Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens debuted Tuesday with permanent housing for up to 22 veterans.
The Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Residence at 800 Madison St. also provides apartments for an additional 76 formerly homeless individuals.
“With so many homeless on the streets — including men and women who have bravely served our country — it is critical to provide stable affordable homes,” Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that many of these individuals now have a special place to call 'home,'” he said, adding that the need for affordable housing in New York City is “overwhelming.”
The supportive housing development previously operated as an all-boys school, all-girls school and a rectory, ran by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn and Sisters of St. Joseph.
The building was later converted into apartments for the formerly homeless and was known as Our Lady of Good Counsel.
The most recent addition of 22 new apartments, complete with full kitchens and baths, will help veterans like Darryl Harper, who have gone through the city’s shelter system.
Harper, 64, served as a cannon crewman in the U.S. Army from 1974 to 1980, spending most of his time at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, he said.
Upon returning to New York and completing a degree in early childhood education, he found it difficult to find a permanent home, he added.
Harper bounced between living with his parents and relatives, then moved to shelters in Manhattan and Brooklyn before settling with his sister in Long Island, he said.
“It wasn’t the best experience, but I have to try to look at everything as a learning experience," Harper said.
Upon learning of his placement at the Madison Street residence, Harper was elated, especially after having been previously let down by the possibility of permanent housing last spring, he explained.
“I was told before that I’d have a place to live, but it didn’t work out and it was heart-wrenching,” Harper said.
“Yesterday was very rewarding. A happy, joyous type of feeling, a fulfilling feeling. It’s affording me to have a base of operations.”
His newly furnished studio apartment will help him move forward with finding a volunteer position and eventually, a stable job, he added.
Other renovations to the building include improvements to the lobby, along with new common areas and meeting rooms for the residents.
The development takes it name after Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, who was a member of Catholic Charities and had a commitment to social justice and affordable housing, according to organizers.
The renovation received funding through the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, along with several other local and national agencies.
All formerly homeless veteran tenants are expected to move into their apartments by the end of November, Catholic Charities representatives said.