In 1979, a grassroots effort to engage Columbia University students swept across Morningside Heights. With a focus on meeting the needs of the neighborhood's most disenfranchised individuals, the group-- then called the Columbia University Community Services-- began providing assistance, building a bridge between the student and resident populations.
Almost 15 years later, in 1993, the group became an independent non-profit, changing its name to the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). With an expanded mission and scope of work, CUCS set out to "rebuild the lives of homeless and disadvantaged individuals and families." Remaining steadfast in these efforts, CUCS continues to leave its mark as an impressive and comprehensive human services agency, now one of the nation's largest providers of housing and social services to homeless and formerly homeless people.
CUCS was among the Department of Homeless Services' (DHS) first community partners. Operating the Lafayette Street Shelter for women, the organization provides mental health, housing placement, and general support services to 43 residents daily. The shelter is one of more than 30 CUCS programs that help families and individuals return to self-sufficiency in the community. Its various affordable and supportive housing initiatives serve low-income individuals and families and are often tailored to assist veterans, persons with serious health and mental health issues, and those involved in the criminal justice system. CUCS' programs reach more than 35,000 people annually.
While CUCS has demonstrated a clear commitment to New Yorkers in need, it also has a substantial national program –The CUCS Institute-- that trains staffs and provides assistance to organizations helping homeless individuals across the country. The CUCS Institute offers a broad curriculum with a sharp focus on evidence-based practices, and has worked with hundreds of organizations and thousands of practitioners over the past 20 years.
Since its inception, CUCS has been on the frontlines of delivering services to homeless clients - evolving into a particularly unique organization that combines direct services, housing development, training and research to shape strategies that address homelessness and poverty at the local, state and national levels.