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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jean Newburg, Chief Executive Officer
(212) 866-6040, Ext. 220


WESTON UNITED TO EMPOWER THE HOMELESS
WITH NEW PERMANENT HOUSING FACILITY
Full-Service Program Provides Health and Vocational Support

NEW YORK, N.Y., November 10, 2003 - Weston United Community Renewal, Inc., a non-profit organization offering housing, rehabilitation and support services to the homeless and mentally ill in New York City, announced today the opening of a permanent housing facility, the first of its kind in the organization's 15-year history.

The new building, called "Casa Renacer" (renacer means "to be reborn"), will also provide health care, social services support, skills training and job placement. The comprehensive services furnish the residents with the tools and support they need to get back on their feet. The facility will help those extremely challenged participants that are considered chronically homeless and need permanent housing as well as comprehensive medical and vocational services.

"Casa Renacer addresses one of the most challenging issues with the homeless situation in New York and across the country, the need to empower those who need more than temporary housing," said Jean Newburg, Chief Executive Officer of Weston United. "We provide programs that encourage consumers, as they prefer to be addressed, to achieve their highest potential by providing assistance in a very therapeutic and rehabilitative environment. This creates an atmosphere of respect where individuals flourish and reach goals they never before thought possible."

The tenants and program participants will gain access to a full-time staff comprised of a medical doctor, a licensed practical nurse, program and central intake coordinators, a case manager, and life skills, peer and entitlements specialists. The six-story building measures more than 60,000 square feet and features 60 living quarters, a 24-hour security desk, a garden, a community room, a laundry room, a commercial kitchen and a dining area. Weston United plans to use the commercial kitchen as a ground for job training in the culinary arts as part of their job training programs.

The efficiency apartments are fully furnished and include a full size bath; a kitchenette with a two-burner gas stove, a small refrigerator and a microwave/convection oven; closets with dividers; an air-conditioner; a captain's bed and chest of drawers; and a table with chairs. The program also provides a start-up kit of linens and kitchen and bath supplies.

"What's also unique about Casa Renacer is that it provides a sense of independence while we support, treat and train our consumers," Newburg added.

Weston United was established in 1988 to fill a gap in social services delivered to the fastest growing homeless population in Manhattan: disenfranchised people, particularly African American and Hispanic, with a history of homelessness, co-occurring disorders of chemical dependency, and mental illness and major medical issues. The organization has helped thousands of individuals and is highly regarded for their special therapeutic programs using arts and music. Weston United also runs Gallery M and Visionary Bookstore, two business ventures where they employ program participants.

The organization currently operates transitional and permanent housing for individuals with diagnosed severe mental illness; permanent scattered site housing for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS; clubhouse programs; participant-operated businesses; a self-help program for adults with severe mental illness; a cultural arts program; and a blended-case management program.

All tenants at Casa Renacer are homeless and mentally ill and are currently chronically homeless, living in shelters or, formerly homeless and living in the community.

Weston United is a designated minority-owned organization and is committed to the delivery of culturally competent services to address the disparities the target population face when assessing and utilizing services in the community. Casa Renacer receives funding under the NY/NYII Agreement. The capital funds were provided by NYC Housing Preservation and Development and from the Federal Home Loan Bank via Carver Federal. Operating support comes from U.S. HUD Shelter Plus Care; the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and the NYC Department of Homeless Services. More information can be obtained by calling (212) 866-6040 extension 220.




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