Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Veterans' Services Commissioner Loree Sutton today announced that 16 formerly homeless veterans have moved into 16 units of affordable housing just in time for the holidays. Members of the community lined the streets to greet the veterans holding welcome signs while also spreading some holiday cheer. The Mayor and members of the Administration helped the veterans settle into their new homes by providing home goods and moving some of their belongings in their apartments.
“Today, 16 formerly homeless veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving our nation have received a home just in time for the holidays,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in life should not be living on the streets or in shelters, which is why we’ve made it our mission to do the proper outreach to ensure veterans get the services they deserve. I want to thank the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for working closely to help end veteran homelessness.”
“With warm, safe, beautiful and affordable new homes, these veterans and their families can celebrate the holidays with the peace of mind that stability offers and plan for a truly prosperous new year,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, who oversees the Department of Veterans’ Services. “I commend the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for providing this essential service and for making monumental progress in curbing veteran homelessness this year.”
Loree Sutton, Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services, said, “We couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved in finding these veterans permanent, affordable housing. In the last year alone, over 1,600 homeless veterans have been housed, an incredible accomplishment that could not have happened with just one agency or one funding stream. Today is the perfect example of the interagency collaboration, resource allocation and the sheer determination by my hardworking staff and colleagues that has led us to this point of nearly ending veteran homelessness in the City.”
HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said, “No one who has sacrificed for our country should find themselves out of a home. That is why HPD has made housing our City’s veterans such a top priority. We appreciate the efforts of our partners at the City, State and Federal levels, as well as Omni, Samaritan Village and so many others who brought 655 Morris Avenue online and provided our veterans with housing and the support they deserve. We are pleased to welcome these 16 veterans home for the holidays.”
Steven Banks, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, said, “The City’s success in ending chronic veterans’ homelessness and substantially reducing veterans homelessness overall shows how effective cooperation between the City and the federal government can be. The Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services are proud to be part of this continuing effort to provide homes for those who have served their country.”
This brand-new, 176-unit building, located at 655 Morris Avenue, was financed by HPD, HDC and Bank of America, but to make a project like this work it also needs subsidies. To that end, the veterans are coming in with a combination of City and Federal rent subsidies, household donations and furniture allowances from both the City and private donors. As with all homeless veterans in the City, each veteran moving in today had the support of a DVS Veteran Peer Coordinator or shelter case manager as well as countless people behind the scenes at DSS, NYCHA, HPD, VA, DVS and the shelter provider, Institute for Community Living.
The 16 apartments being provided to veterans represent two of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top priorities: to preserve or develop 200,000 units of affordable housing for New Yorkers and to effectively end veteran homelessness in the City. The City has already ended chronic veteran homelessness, an effort recognized by President Barack Obama last December.
Since Mayor de Blasio’s 2015 State of the City commitment to effectively end veteran homelessness in the City, the Administration and its partners have housed 2,533 homeless veterans, a 64 percent reduction in veteran homelessness. In addition, the City had reduced veteran homelessness by nearly 90 percent in the past five years. The national average is 47 percent during this time period.
About the Veterans
Samuel Rosado is a 68 year old disabled veteran who served in the military for 30 years. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Samuel joined the Army in 1968 when he was 19 years old, serving in the Army, National Guard and the Reserves in many roles, including paratrooper, infantryman, scout, mortarman, combat engineer and communications specialist. He was medically retired in 1998 and returned to his wife and daughters in Puerto Rico, remaining with them until his wife passed away after 33 years of marriage.
He since moved to New York to be close to his young son. Yet without a stable job or savings, he found he was unable to afford rent and was shocked to find himself living in a shelter.
“I never lived in a shelter in my life. I’ve always worked. I was always the first person to volunteer for any job, no matter how crazy it seemed. But I had to be here in New York City to see my son – I want him to be raised to be a good man, put him in a good school. I want to raise him right,” said Samuel Rosado.
After living in a shelter, Samuel will move into permanent, affordable housing.
“I am happy to move into such a beautiful place, and I want to thank the city for my new home," said Samuel Rosado.
John Carothers is also moving in to 655 Morris Ave. He is a disabled Vietnam veteran, who served from 1964 to 1966 in the Army Medical Corps. Following his time in the Army, he spent a career in medical services, working primarily as a radiologist. He entered the shelter system after his home was foreclosed in 2015.
"I am so grateful to DVS for helping to steer me through this process. This is a beautiful apartment in a brand new building and in an ideal location. I am very much looking forward to moving in," said John Carothers.
Michael Scanlon is another one of the veterans moving in today. After a very difficult few years he couldn’t be happier about his new apartment.
“I was in the US Navy from 1981 to 1996 serving in many roles, from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Maine working on submarines. I left the service as a single parent to three children and worked on tug boats and as a taxi driver. I was also forced to rely on odd jobs for work,” said Michael Scanlon. “Eventually, I couldn’t afford rent anymore and had to couch surf. I ended up sleeping in the garage I used to work at. It got to be too much, and I entered the shelter system and finally began taking advantage of some of the programs available to me as a veteran. I am so happy and grateful for the services and programs made available to me by the City, and especially thankful for the help putting a roof over my head.”
The individual apartments have a bedroom, full bathroom, living room with a kitchen and two to three closets. All units are equipped with a dishwasher, heater and air conditioning.
The units were made available through an affordable housing real estate development company, Omni New York LLC (Omni), co-founded by Maurice “Mo” Vaughn, a former Mets player. Vaughn co-founded Omni to revitalize and develop various neighborhoods in New York City, and it now owns and manages over 13,000 affordable housing units in 10 states. The veterans are the first group of tenants to move into this new 176-unit development at 655 Morris Avenue in the Bronx, which will be managed by Omni affiliate, Reliant Realty Services, LLC with social services provided by Samaritan Village.
Mo Vaughn, co-Founder of Omni New York, LLC, said, “This is our first new building in New York City, and we couldn’t be more excited to have a group of Veterans as our very first tenants. This is especially meaningful to our company, as Omni and its affiliated companies have a long history of employing Veterans and former NYC Police Officers. Reliant’s Managing Director, Mathew Holladay, is a West Point graduate and Army Veteran, and its CEO Fermin Garcia served in the Navy.”
“Samaritan Daytop Village is delighted to partner with the City and Omni Development to provide support services to the deserving veterans and their families who will be moving into new, high quality apartments today and in the coming weeks. We are grateful for Mayor de Blasio and his commitment to increasing affordable housing. We are also thankful for the sacrifices our veterans have made, and honored to do our part,” said Tino Hernandez, President and CEO of Samaritan Daytop Village.
For more information about NYC’s Department of Veterans Services, visit nyc.gov/vets, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 212-416-5250.
If you are landlord or broker interested in providing a rental apartment, please call the Mayor’s Home Support Unit at 929-252-7244 to speak with a Home Support specialist.