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Women and Children's Homeless Shelter Welcome on the UES, Pols Say

By Shaye Weaver | March 24, 2017 5:04pm | Updated on March 27, 2017 8:49am
 Students from P.S. 527, across the street from the future WIN facility, said they were happy to welcome the families who will be moving in.
Students from P.S. 527, across the street from the future WIN facility, said they were happy to welcome the families who will be moving in.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

YORKVILLE — The Upper East Side is rolling out the red carpet for a supportive housing facility that will cater to 17 homeless moms and their children.

Students and faculty from East Side Middle School and P.S. 527, five local elected officials and representatives from the city's Department of Social Services and Human Resources welcomed Women In Need — a nonprofit agency that houses and provides social services for families — to the neighborhood during a press conference on Friday morning outside its future home at 316 E. 91st St.

"Affordable housing helps the community and aids families during hard times. It is a dream to many people and we support that dream," said East Side Middle School student Jack Zimmerman.

The seven-story building between First and Second avenues will rent 17 two-bedroom apartments to single mothers with children until they can get back on their feet and be independent, WIN officials said.

The current building on the property, which has served as a factory, a performing arts studio and a church since it was built in 1931, will be demolished and replaced with a brand new $6.3 million building built by RiverOak Investment Corp. and Azimuth Development and designed by Kossar & Garry Architects, city records show.

Known as "supportive housing," the facility will provide social services to its residents including employment assistance, case management, and child care. A Sunshine Early Learning Center will operate in the basement and first floor and will give priority to the building's families, but will be open to the general public too, officials said.

The children living at the facility will be able to go to nearby schools, including East Side Middle School and P.S. 527, which is important because many children start missing school when they move to a homeless shelter, officials said.

Rents for the apartments will be market-rate, but WIN will provide rental assistance to the residents through supportive housing contracts with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. No tenant will pay more than 35 percent of her income out of pocket for rent, according to a WIN rep.

"Sometimes when facilities like this open on blocks where there's schools, people aren't happy about, but these will be women and children who live in this building, they're going to be your classmates," said Christine Quinn, WIN's President and CEO.

"East 91st Street is not where people think things like this usually get built because it's too affluent, but you're proving today that the way we end the homeless crisis and site all the supportive housing we need, and meet the mayor's challenge to open more affordable housing... is by not making assumptions about each other and not by judging people who need help, but by coming together."

Quinn said the building is "critically important" because there are currently 60,000 people in shelters, 70 percent of whom are families with children. Roughly 92 percent of them are headed by single women, she added.

Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to open 90 new homeless shelters and cut the city's homeless shelter population by 2,500 over the next five years.

Officials pointed to the mayor's shelter plan as a win for New York because it's reinvigorated discussion on how to solve the homelessness crisis.

"We have a whole community standing together saying, 'We get it,'" said State Sen. Liz Kruger. "We understand as New Yorkers the crisis we are facing of a lack of affordable housing and the failures at every level of government to make sure we are providing the right level of resources that people need. Every community needs to do its share of making sure we work for equity, fairness, justice, affordable housing, and supportive housing."

WIN will present its plans to Community Board 8's Health, Seniors and Social Services committee on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 E. 93rd St.