New York City Housing Authority

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New Bill Aims to Replicate NYCHA’s
Grandparent Housing Initiative

Grandparent Family Apartments, the first ever housing development designed specifically for grandparents raising grandchildren, served as the backdrop for New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to announce that she is re-introducing legislation in the Senate that would provide support for families caring for young relatives, who might otherwise end up in foster care.

Janice Flood at home with grandson
Janice Flood cares for four of her grandchildren in the Grandparents Family Apartments
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

Senator Clinton, together with Congressman Jose Serrano and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, spoke about the Kinship Caregiver Support Act. This legislation proposes to establish programs that would provide financial and social services to "kinship caregivers," or family members that care for grandchildren, nieces or nephews when their parents are unable to care for them.

The Bronx site, in the Morrisania section of the borough, where Senator Clinton and others spoke about the need to provide assistance for kinship caregivers, is home to 50 grandparents and 97 grandchildren. Grandparent Family Apartments is a unique development that provides housing and social services to grandparents who care for grandchildren or other relatives.

Senator Clinton speaks with NYCHA executives
Senator Clinton (left) speaks with NYCHA Vice Chairman Earl Andrews, Jr. (center) and NYCHA General Manager, Douglas Apple (right)
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

To establish this unique form of housing the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) collaborated with two not-for-profit organizations, Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS), which provides on-site support services to the residents, and West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. (WSFSSH), which owns and manages the building. NYCHA leased the Prospect Avenue site to the developer for $1 a year in a 99-year ground lease, and will contribute a public housing subsidy which will keep the rents affordable. Additional funding was provided by New York State and private sources.

"This place was made possible by a great decision by the City," said Senator Clinton, in reference to Grandparent Family Apartments. "We hope to replicate this across the nation. We are trying to make the case that leaving families together is important. Instead of putting children in the system, give them to their grandparents."

Among the supporters of the Kinship Caregiver legislation is Janice Flood, a 65-year old widow who is raising four of her grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old in the Grandparent Family Apartments.

"I crossed my fingers and prayed that I could move here when this place opened," said Ms. Flood. "I lived a block away from here, but that was like another world. There are so many grandparents who have their grandkids and they deserve a way to raise them right. For me it was a dream come true. It was like winning the lottery."

Nationally, about six million children are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives, according to U.S. Census figures. In New York City 245,000 grandchildren live in grandparent-run households.

By Peter Moses
March 14, 2007