New housing development puts focus on veterans
by Chase Collum
Nov 12, 2014 | 3035 views | 0 0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Establishing a new model for affordable housing, L+M Partners on Monday unveiled Utica Place, its latest 87-unit development in Crown Heights.

Originally, St. Matthew’s rectory occupied the location that is now Utica Place, and that was remodeled into a school in 1912. That school shut down in the 1970s.

A four-story community and commercial space building next door complements the new 12-story residential building.

In order to ensure that vulnerable veterans aren’t left out of the affordable housing model, L+M Partners teamed up with Jericho Project and set aside 26 of their units for former soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

“It was very difficult leaving the military and becoming a civilian again,” Hinds said. “In the military, you get used to everything being organized and structured. When you get out, it's very easy to get lost and confused. The skills that I had in the military prepared me, but in the civilian world I didn't have the credentials to get a job.”

After struggling for three years to integrate into civilian society, Hinds heard about Jericho Project’s supportive housing model and secured an affordable, furnished studio apartment in one of their facilities in the Bronx where he now lives with 74 other veterans.

Recognizing that veterans of all eras have a diverse range of special needs, Jericho Project developed a model to provide a safe environment that is conducive to healing and integration into the civilian world.

Executive director of the Jericho Project, Tori Lyon, said that her 31-year-old organization began focusing on providing supportive housing to veterans about five years ago because they wanted to do something for veterans.

“We assembled a veteran’s advisory council to ensure our services would be valuable. Our goal was to create a community in which all veterans can share their common bond,” Lyon said. “Today at Utica place were proud to be part of a new version of our model.”

To ensure the veterans living at Utica Place will have every available opportunity to succeed, Jericho Project will be providing them with their own full-time case worker who will work in the building and assist them with all aspects of navigating the civilian world, including education, job placement, and healthcare.

Rents at Utica Place will range from as low as $494 per month for a studio up to $1,175 per month for a three-bedroom unit. Renters were chosen using the Open Lottery System, which closed on May 13 with over 38,000 applicants.

Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna called the housing model “a turning point” in the city’s struggle to provide 200,000 affordable housing units to low-income New Yorkers in need.

“We have families that are being displaced faster than we can provide housing for them,” Reyna said. “This is exactly the form that we want to be innovative with. This is the model we want to continue with.”

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