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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eric Bederman (HPD) 212-863-5176


HUD, HPD AND DOHMH JOIN GEEL COMMUNITY SERVICES TO CELEBRATE THE GRAND OPENING OF GEEL GRAND AVENUE STUDIOS

A new supportive housing development in the Bronx offers a sense of community with
on-site supportive services.
 

(December 7, 2011)  BRONX, N.Y. — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and elected officials joined Geel Community Services, Inc. to celebrate the grand opening of Geel Grand Avenue Studios. Located at 2516 Grand Avenue in the Bronx, Geel Grand Avenue Studios is a 57-unit new supportive housing development that offers on-site supportive services for New Yorkers coping with mental health issues and chronic homelessness. 

“I am very pleased that HUD is an active partner in the City’s most recent addition to its effort to accomplish its New Housing Market Place goals,” said Regional Administrator Adolfo Carrión.  “In addition to contributing $1.1 million in capital financing under the HOME program, HUD is also providing $500,000 to permanently house 36 formerly homeless persons.   This is a wonderful example of a public-private collaboration that not only provides permanent housing, but also accomplishes the mission of the US Interagency Council for the Homeless’ ‘Opening Doors Strategy’ to end homelessness.” 

Geel Grand Avenue Studios were created under the Bloomberg Administration’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. The plan, launched by Mayor Bloomberg in 2003, is a multibillion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year. To date, the plan has funded the creation or preservation of more than 125,700 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. More than 38,000 units have been financed in the Bronx with more than 3,400 units in Community Board 7 where this site is located. 

“For those coping with mental illness or chronic homelessness a safe, affordable home is a critical resource that helps provide the stability needed to put their lives back into focus and back on track,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “Geel Grand Avenue Studios will offer that touchstone, allowing some of our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to reach their potential in a supportive environment that suits their needs. I would like to thank DOHMH, HUD, and Geel Community Services and all of our partners for their commitment to creating a stronger, more diverse, and sustainable New York.” 

“Having a place to call home and services that help give individuals a sense of self-worth is essential for those with mental health issues or who have been caught in a cycle of living in homeless shelters for years,” says Maria Matias, Executive Director, Geel Community Services, Inc. “Geel is very proud to offer New York’s neediest and most vulnerable, new, safe, reliable housing and quality, comprehensive on-site supportive services.”  According to Matias, Ninety three percent (93%) of Geel Grand Avenue Studio residents have been in the shelter system for more than a year, with shelter stays ranging from one to ten years. 

“Enterprise is committed to reducing the number and length of stay of homeless families in the shelter system, and we are proud to serve as a partner to Geel Community Services, Inc to help make these supportive, stable homes a reality for our most vulnerable Bronx neighbors,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “These homes are really an example of the great work that can happen when we partner across public and private sectors to bring community solutions to bear.” 

Geel Grand Avenue Studios has 57 studio apartments for single adults, with 54 of the studios already leased and occupied. The studio units are 270 square feet in size with individual bathrooms and full kitchen area. The units will be available to tenants earning not more than 60% percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or what is equivalent to an annual income of $33,300 for a single person. 

The units are furnished with a bed, nightstand and dresser for each resident, along with a dining table and chairs.  Each unit features a flat screen television and is pre-wired for cable and telephone access. Geel Grand Avenue Studios also provides residents with initial kitchen utensils, plates, pots/pans and linens.  Building amenities include a community lounge area with a full operable kitchen and an outdoor patio area and a laundry room with full size washers and dryers.  Residents have access to the building’s computer center that features full internet access and the opportunity to participate in vocational and educational workshops conducted by staff.  

Geel Grand Avenue Studios has been made possible by the hard-work, support and contributions of a number of organizations and individuals. The total cost of development was over $13.3 million.  HPD provided a City Capital grant of $5.1 million and $1.1 million in HOME dollars.  HUD provided a $2.4 million grant to be used as an operating subsidy.  A loan of $1.5 million was provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing.  DOHMH contributed contracts of over $500,000. The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York also contributed a grant of over $520,000 and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. contributed a grant of $25,000. Additional partners include The Richman Group, the New York City Department of Homeless Services, M & T Bank, community leaders, elected and government officials, Geel employees and many others.

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About the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at http://hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.  You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv. 

About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 125,700 affordable homes have been created or preserved. www.nyc.gov/hpd   

About Geel Community Services:

Since 1976, Geel Community Services, Inc. has provided counseling and services to mentally ill people in a dignified manner, maximizing their sense of self-worth and leading them on a path toward independence in their communities. Geel currently provides more than 280 supportive housing units in the Bronx and is named for Geel, a city in Belgium with an international reputation for hosting and compassionately caring for mentally ill people since the 12th Century. Geel Community Services, Inc. continues in the Geel, Belgium tradition with its network of supportive housing in the Bronx. www.geelcommunityservices.org




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