New homeless housing approved for E. Houston site

Former Boys’ Club, Milliken Clubhouse, will be demolished to make room for the Common Ground homeless housing facility. Photo: Shane Tattan.

Twelve-story facility will house 263 former homeless and provide on-site supportive services. On June 29, 2006, HPD and Common Ground, a not-for-profit that provides housing services for the homeless, obtained City Council approval for a 12-story housing facility to be located on East Houston at Pitt Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The site contains the Milliken Clubhouse building, a former Boys’ Club of New York location, which has sat vacant since 2003.


Common Ground currently operates four housing facilities for the formerly homeless in Manhattan and has a fifth facility under construction in downtown Brooklyn. Its Times Square Hotel facility at West 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue houses 652 people and is the largest homeless housing facility in the country. All its facilities provide onsite social services, job training, and medical facilities, and target persons considered by Common Ground to be most at risk for homelessness, like children leaving foster care and substance abusers.

At the East Houston site, Common Ground proposed to demolish the Milliken Clubhouse and construct a 99,158-square-foot project for 263 persons, requiring a special permit to exceed the permitted floor area by 46,526 sq.ft. The 12- story facility will have 45 suites for formerly homeless youth and former foster care children on the second and third floors, and 207 individual rooms for adults with AIDS, mental illness and substance abuse problems on the fourth through twelfth stories. It will also house onsite job training, educational programs and physical and mental health medical facilities.

At the public hearing on June 20th before the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises, David Beer, Common Ground’s Director of Housing Development and Replication, explained that under the current zoning a community facility without a residential component could be built as-of-right with the same amount of floor area as the current proposal. Brian Coon, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s representative, urged the Council’s approval, emphasizing that Common Ground’s facilities are high quality, have low turnover rates and represent a low-traffic use.

The Subcommittee approved the facility without debate sending it to the full City Council, which approved.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: HPD,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 3, App’d, 30-2-1
Boro. President: App’d
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0

Council: Common Ground Community Residence ( June  29, 2006); CPC: Com- mon Ground Community Residence (C   060277    ZSM)   (May   24,   2006). CITYADMIN

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