On November 3, Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals President Dr. Mitchell Katz announced a new initiative to connect homeless healthcare patients with affordable housing and support. The initiative, “Housing for Health,” plans to create nearly 650 new homes over the next five years, all of which will be affordable and situated near NYC Health + Hospital locations.
Housing for Health Key Features
Many homeless patients experience worse health outcomes due to inconsistent access to healthcare providers, which ultimately results in more costly hospital stays. By providing more opportunities for housing near hospitals and through collaboration with community organizations and government agencies, the City aims to provide New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with more consistent access to healthcare.
“Housing is fundamental to good health,” said Dr. Katz. “Patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension cannot manage their condition without a safe and stable place to live.”
Beyond location, Housing for Health will help fund social support services in permanent housing. This support can help ease the transition from homelessness for patients, as well as connecting them with ongoing benefits and resources like food pantries, employment services, and advice on continuing medical care.
For those who are not equipped to live on their own, NYC Health + Hospitals have dedicated land to the construction of affordable supportive housing. In 2019, Woodruff Hospital added 54 studio apartments for formerly homeless adults with special needs, followed by an expansion of its correctional health services. At the T Building, a converted former hospital on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens, 75 of 200 apartments provide supportive care.
Those not in supportive housing still enjoy access to case management, mental health and substance treatment, and financial resources coordinated by the non-profit Church Avenue Merchant Block Association.
“When I first entered the shelter system a couple of years ago, I was emotionally drained and so stressed out that I couldn’t sleep,” said Jesus Cerda, resident of the T building. “I had a mental break down, and I ended up the Psychiatric Unit at Harlem hospital. When I was discharged, my caseworker told me that I qualified for an apartment at the T building. In July, I was finally able to move in, and I couldn’t be happier. Now I have my own studio apartment. It is truly a fantastic feeling to have tranquility, the ability to cook my own meals, and focus on my next steps in life. I finally feel happy and in control of my life.”
Mayor Adams stated, “It’s time to look at the full picture of New Yorkers’ health challenges, and to treat these challenges holistically. It’s not enough to care for unhoused New Yorkers in the emergency room and then discharge them if they have no home to recover and heal in.”
“Health and housing are inextricably linked, especially for those experiencing homelessness, so we’re proud to support the Housing for Health initiative led by NYC Health + Hospitals,” said New York City Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Permanent, affordable housing is essential to putting our unhoused neighbors on a path to wellness and stable living.”
By: Kyle Hunt (Kyle is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)