InvisALERT Solutions – ObservSMART

Suffolk Agency Expands into Brooklyn

After over 25 years of developing primarily small, scattered site projects in Suffolk County, Concern for Independent Living is pleased to open The Rochester Avenue Apartments, our first Single-Site Supportive Housing program in Brooklyn. Using New York New York III funding, this 65-unit apartment building provides safe, affordable housing and on-site supportive services for individuals recovering from mental illness. Fifty-five percent of the residents came from OMH-operated psychiatric centers. The remaining 45% are chronically homeless single adults with a severe and persistent mental illness. Residents enjoy their own studio apartment with private bathroom and kitchenette. The building includes a fitness center, computer room/library, laundry facilities, several lounges, roof-top patio and community garden.

The Rochester Avenue Apartments began as an outgrowth of Concern’s successful conversion of three adult-homes in Suffolk County. In 2004 some advocacy groups asked us to get involved in an impending housing crisis on Long Island. Since the beginning of 2004 over 12 Long Island adult homes, which housed over 800 people with mental illness, have closed. While the adult homes have never been great places to live, they were a home for the people that lived there.

Concern recognized that this crisis was an opportunity to create new housing that would be far superior to the existing institutions that were closing. Known as Pollack Gardens, our first OMH-licensed 50-unit Single-Site Supportive Housing program is located on Main Street in West Sayville. The building is the site of the former Family Lodge Adult Home where 64 individuals once resided in 32 rooms. With the support of the Town of Islip and the Town of West Sayville, construction was completed in 2007. Three years after the opening of Pollack Gardens, this project continues to enjoy the support of its neighbors. Planning Department Commissioner Eugene Murphy stated, “we have not gotten one complaint about that facility [Pollack Gardens] since it opened.” He continues to state that Concern “provided the opportunity to dramatically upgrade the building” and that the “genius” of Concern is that we “perform.” “Right down to the architectural touches on the building, they [Concern] perform in a humane way for the people that live there.”

Riding on the success of Pollack Gardens, Concern continued to develop Single-Site Supportive Housing programs in Suffolk County. Our second adult home conversion transformed the Henry Perkins Adult Home in Riverhead into Concern Riverhead in 2008. Prior to its tenure as an Adult Home, this building was a cornerstone of the Riverhead community. Known as the Hotel Henry Perkins the building was a place where politicians, attorneys, judges and reporters were regulars. The hotel was eventually turned into an adult home in the 1970s where as many as 120 individuals resided at one time. As an adult home the building fell into disrepair. As Concern Riverhead, residents each enjoy their own private studio apartment. Residents are encouraged to socialize in the building’s many amenities, including a fitness center, lounges, computer room/library, and communal dining room. Concern was able to restore this blighted building located on Main Street back to its former magnificence and won a downtown revitalization award from Vision long Island in 2010.

Our third adult home conversion, Concern East Patchogue, included the razing of the South Country Adult Home, where up to 170 individuals resided at one time. Concern East Patchogue, which provides housing and supportive services for 50 individuals with mental illness, opened in 2009. As stated by a Concern East Patchogue resident, “I grew increasingly depressed living there [Suffolk County adult home]…Living at the Patchogue SRO has allowed me to reestablish independent living.”

Drawing on our experience converting adult homes into beautiful Single-Site Supportive Housing apartments, Concern applied for, and was awarded, funding from the New York State Office of Mental Health through the New York New York III Agreement in 2007. Using this funding, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits issued by NYS Homes and Community Renewal, and various grants and loans, Concern has developed 190 Supportive Housing and 30 low-income housing units in Brooklyn. Included in these unit counts are The MacDougal Street Apartments and The Concern Heights Apartments.

The MacDougal Street Apartments began as a vacant building in Brooklyn. Scheduled to open in October 2011, this OMH-licensed program will provide housing and supportive services to 65 adults with psychiatric disabilities. Thirty percent of residents will be chronically homeless single adults recovering from mental illness. Sixty percent of residents will be adults residing in OMH-operated psychiatric centers. The development of this program included the demolition of the existing building and the new construction of the MacDougal Street Apartments utilizing modular construction. This project is the first Single-Site Supportive Housing program in New York State to utilize this construction technique.

The Concern Heights Apartments will be Concern’s first mixed-use housing program. The construction of this building began on a vacant lot located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in 2009. The project is scheduled for completion in October 2011. This program will serve 60 individuals with psychiatric disabilities and an additional 30 low-income individuals and families from the community. The Concern Heights Apartments will mark the first time that Concern will provide housing to low-income persons without disabilities.

For over 25 years Concern has developed housing for persons living with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, the development of this type of housing often meets with intense community opposition. All of our Suffolk Single-Site Supportive Housing projects were completed with the support of the local community. Additionally, two of our Brooklyn projects received the strong support of their respective Community Boards. All of these programs transformed blighted structures into beautiful residences. These programs are seamlessly integrated into their neighborhoods and residents of these programs are active members of their communities. With the successful completion of these projects, 310 individuals recovering from mental illness will be able to live with dignity and pride in the community. Over 45 jobs were created and filled mostly by persons from the community.

Capital funding for these projects was provided by New York State Homes and Community Renewal, New York State Office of Mental Health, Fannie Mae, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation, The Enterprise Foundation, National Equity Fund, Richman Housing Resources, The Community Preservation Corporation, and Bank of America. Ongoing operational support is provided by New York State Office of Mental Health and Suffolk County Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services. Grants from the van Ameringen Foundation, McCarthy Foundation, Capital One and The Cetrino Foundation have strengthened these programs and our ability to develop and operate high quality housing.

Concern for Independent Living, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 1972 by a group of concerned parents and friends of persons in Central Islip State Hospital. Our mission is to provide housing and services for persons challenged with psychiatric or other disabilities and those with very low incomes in a manner that enriches their lives and the communities we serve. Concern currently provides housing and supportive services for over 600 individuals and families in Suffolk County and Brooklyn with over 200 units in development including a project for homeless veterans and their families.

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