New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was in Albany Thursday to have a look at ongoing construction of a new housing development for families facing homelessness.
“Behind us you’ll see a building rising. But the project is more than a building. It is a place where we’re going to help to build human potential,” said Frank Pindiak, executive director at St. Catherine’s Center for Children, who gave Hochul and other officials a short tour of construction of the $6 million project.
Hochul, a Democrat, says the three-story apartment building at 543 North Pearl Street in Albany will provide supportive housing for those most in need.
"No one wakes up as a child and says 'boy, I wanna be homeless when I grow up.' No one sets out on a path to a place that would lead them to a beautiful home like this, but life intervenes. Life happens. Whether it's mental health challenges, something in their own upbringing, abuse... there's so many things that happen in people's lives, and to think that there's going to be 12 families and children who otherwise would fall through the cracks and perhaps end up on these very streets, to know that all of this community has come together in such a profound way to say 'no, not here, not now.'"
Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Mike Hein says the development, funded through the state's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, will specifically offer permanent housing and supportive services for youth and families where the head of household is diagnosed with a serious mental illness or substance use disorder.
"Homelessness in our state takes so many forms, so many different ways, no one-size-fits-all solution, so an event like this, a project like this, tailored specifically to a community, makes all the difference in the world."
The North Pearl Street Apartments replace a vacant former adult home, which had fallen into disrepair and was torn down over the summer.
St. Catherine's will provide residents with case management, care coordination, nutritional training, workforce development, parenting classes, and mental health/substance use treatment. Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the development will lift people up.
"Many of the families here, who are going to live here, they need those support services because of the trauma that they've experienced in their lives, whether it's domestic violence, whether it is the stresses and challenges associated with poverty. Systems that we're still learning may have been set up with the best of intentions, but still cause stress and strain and too many hurdles, too much red tape for people to be able to navigate, and so they're gonna have that navigation right here, to help them, to lift them up, and to move them towards independence. And we do need more of this, not less. Housing forms the basis."
The North Pearl Street Apartment building should be ready to welcome its first residents in 2021. It is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $20 billion, five-year housing plan to create 100,000 units of affordable housing across New York.