In the early days, we adopted a “housing first” model, prioritizing access to stable housing before addressing other goals like income, employment, and health. Our first tenants were formerly incarcerated women who had completed their sentences but could not find supportive housing that would accept them. Ever since, HousingPlus has helped women navigate the structural barriers encountered when re-entering the community following imprisonment—public benefit/entitlement services, the foster care system, and seeking living- wage employment.
In 2009, we created the country’s first Family Alternative to Incarceration program, “Drew House,” in which women with first-time felonies could serve their sentences with their children outside the confines of an institutional setting. In 2015, we expanded our criminal justice work as the lead agency in the Women’s Community Justice Project (WCJP), a partnership between HousingPlus and three nonprofit organizations--Greenhope Services for Women, Hour Children, and Providence House--that provide community-based housing and services for women who would otherwise be unnecessarily detained at Rikers Island.
In 2011, HousingPlus expanded services to add permanent housing specifically for female veterans. At the time, these women were being sent to facilities designed for, and populated by male veterans. With inaugural support from the Robin Hood Foundation, we launched Ruby House to address this service gap for female veterans, giving them a stable home and services needed to address PTSD and other traumas resulting from their military service. HousingPlus has three permanent housing programs serving 69 veterans and their families.
HousingPlus is partnering with private developers to create new affordable housing in the neighborhoods we serve. Our most recent achievement, a project in partnership with B&B Urban, L+M Development Partners, and MHG Architects, created 100 new units of affordable housing in East New York through the Linwood Park Apartments, which opened in May 2020. HousingPlus provides on-site social services and rental assistance to 30 units of family housing in this project that serves formerly homeless families and justice-involved women and children. In the next three years, we will nearly double our housing portfolio, from 150 to 300 units of affordable, permanent supportive housing for women and children who have experienced homelessness.