LGBTQ-Inclusive Affordable Housing for Young Adults Coming to Harlem

Homeward NYC has inked a multi-million dollar deal to build an LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing development for young adults.
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Homeward NYC, an organization serving homeless populations, has inked a deal to build LGBTQ-inclusive affordable housing units for young adults in Central Harlem.

The 51-unit affordable housing development, dubbed “Homeward – Central Harlem,” will serve homeless individuals from the ages of 18 to 25 years old at 15 West 118th Street in Harlem, according to Multi-Housing News. The housing development will also provide young residents with a range of services, including mental health and counseling support, job placement, and courses that will help build life skills in budgeting, building credit, and cooking.

Jeannette Ruffins, the executive director of Homeward NYC, said lack of family support, heightened risk for survival sex work, and other stressors make LGBTQ populations more vulnerable to homelessness.

A study from the non-profit LGBTQ homeless advocacy group True Colors United reveals that LGBTQ young people make up approximately 40 percent of the nation’s youth homeless population.

“Young people especially need affordable housing. Even when they have finished high school or are low-income or haven’t started their careers yet, many [young people] were laid off due to COVID because they were doing retail and restaurants,” Ruffins said. “This is the typical life of a homeless teen in general, but I think specifically for an LGBTQ teen.”

One of the major financial backers of the project, KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment, has provided $16.3 million in funding and will be working with the affordable housing development firms Type A Projects and Azimuth Development Group, which also constructs market-rate housing.

The development has also secured millions in funding from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s (HCR’s) Supportive Housing Opportunity Program and Enterprise Community Partners.

Eric Steinberg, senior vice president of KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment, said the company looks forward to making a difference in marginalized communities.

“Everyone needs a place they can call home, to provide stability for themselves or family,” Steinberg said. “When we have an opportunity to help with projects that will help an underserved population and also provide housing in some of the most expensive markets in America, that is something we want to be working on and helping where we can.”

Annie Tirschwell, the co-founder of Type A Projects, believes this funding will help fill the void in housing resources for the LGBTQ community.

“We acknowledged that LGBTQ young adults were a population in dire need of stable housing and services, so this was born out of a desire to fill a deep need that existed in our city,” Tirschwell said. “We hope we can further integrate this project into the fabric of the community so that stigmas around LGBTQ young adults are further eradicated.”

Affordable Housing Finance reports that the program will select young adults from the Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs.

The affordable housing development is slated to open in the fall of 2023. Homeward NYC also has affordable housing buildings supporting homeless LGBTQ young adults in West Harlem and the Bronx.

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