Housing with social services for formerly homeless New Yorkers

- A welcome sign hangs proudly on the door of Aidibel Moreno's new apartment. It is her sanctuary after years being on her own in shelters and on the street.

"I was broken, now I'm so strong. But I was broken," Moreno said. "It gives you identity because now you know you feel like a person. You are living like a human being in a beautiful setting."

Moreno is one of 34 women who will find themselves in new homes as part of the Win 118th Street permanent supportive housing residence, a home for homeless women and children in Harlem.

"A homeless child is twice as likely to be a homeless adult," Win CEO Christine Quinn said. "A homeless teenage child is three times more likely than a non-homeless teenage child to attempt or commit suicide."

Win currently houses 622 people. The vast majority are kids.

"When you've lived on the streets for so long, you need help," Assemblywoman Inez Dickens said.

In order to qualify for this special type of housing, the clients need to come from the shelter system and have histories that include mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence issues. They pay 30 percent of their income for rent and are also responsible for utilities.

"There are just far too many families who have to worry where they're going to sleep at night," Housing Preservation Department Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said. "And it is not just a professional obligation but for all of us here a moral obligation to do more, to do better, to do faster."

But what makes it so special is the access families have to support services in their building, including financial literacy, job training, work readiness, education counseling, and mental health needs.

"Statistics indicate that 30 to 40 percent of homeless families will really do better, succeed living independently, and not go back to shelter, which is the goal, if there are services on site," said Quinn, a former speaker of the City Council.

New York City currently has about 60,000 homeless people.

A comprehensive evaluation by the Health Department found that every person who can find and thrive in supportive housing saves taxpayers $10,000 per year on average.

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