Apartments Will Serve Chronically Homeless Individuals with HIV/AIDS
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a $5.6 million supportive housing development for chronically homeless individuals living with HIV and AIDS. The new 26,000-square-foot Albany Damien Center will provide 20 permanent supportive apartments - 18 studio apartments and two one-bedroom apartments - for 22 chronically homeless people living with HIV/AIDS.
"Affordable housing is a is critical to protecting the most vulnerable among us and with this new supportive housing development in Albany, we help protect the Capital Region residents that need it the most," Governor Cuomo said. "The Damien Center will give chronically homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS access to critical care resources they need to live healthy lives."
The project involved the renovation of an existing historic building and construction of a new addition in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood. The Damien Center was one of the first drop-in centers in the nation for people living with HIV/AIDS, providing services to those who are not accessing proper medical treatment and have limited social support. The center had been operating at a temporary location after its former site on South Lake Avenue was destroyed by a fire in 2013. The new building opened on November 6.
"Stable housing is the key to effective treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, providing continuity of medical care and increasing the percentage of people whose virus levels are no longer detectable," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The Damien Center has turned tragedy into triumph following the fire of 2014 with this new facility that will provide supportive apartments and programming. With the help of organizations like the Damien Center, New York is making significant progress in our battle to end this epidemic. I was here for the groundbreaking of this new building last year and am honored to now take part in opening its doors so we can continue transforming lives."
The new Damien Center on Madison Avenue now offers supportive housing services, something that it previously lacked due to limited space, and will house the staffing and programs that help more than 400 people living HIV/AIDS each year in the local community. The expansion of services has brought 23 new jobs to Albany.
The center includes two drop-in living room areas, a full-service kitchen, a food pantry, counseling and support group rooms, a fitness room, a pet washing station for the center's PAWS program, a computer room, a healing room and a specialty pharmacy that will provide medication services to the larger community and in-house for the center's members and tenants. The building is LEED Gold Certified complete with solar panels and a generator.
The $5.6 million project was supported in part by $4.3 million from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program and a $269,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of New York.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "Governor Cuomo continues to lead the way in assuring our most vulnerable New Yorkers have access to safe and affordable housing. Projects like the new Damien Center not only give chronically homeless individuals a place to call home, but also access to support services needed to live healthy and stable lives."
Gerrard P. Bushell, President & CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York said, "DASNY understands the critical nature these funds play in providing affordable housing in communities throughout New York State. We are proud to support Governor Cuomo's efforts to help those in need of housing or medical care and ensure no one gets left out in the cold."
Senator Neil Breslin said, "Supportive Housing is a proven, highly effective strategy to assist some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The new 26,000 square foot Albany Damien Center will help provide the assistance and support services necessary to chronically homeless people who are living with HIV/AIDS. I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner Sam Roberts of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance for their tireless efforts in making sure this housing development becomes a reality."
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "I'm thrilled to see the Governor's commitment to supportive housing development for chronically homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS fully realized here in Albany with the beautiful new Damien Center. This new center is an incredible intersection of taking care of our most vulnerable, effective public investment in proven solutions, and inspiring renovation and construction in historic neighborhoods."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "We must do everything we can to provide assistance to those living with HIV/AIDS in our community and it sends a strong message that this ribbon cutting for the Albany Damien Center is being held on World AIDS Day. Thank you, Governor Cuomo for understanding the need for this center and for what it means to members of our community...compassion, friendship and support."
Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan said, "This project was truly a community effort, and it wouldn't have been possible without the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. This new facility will allow the Damien Center to expand its reach throughout the Capital Region -providing supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS. Congratulations to Perry Junjulas and the entire team at the Damien Center."
The Albany Damien Center Executive Director Perry Junjulas said, "This investment in our community will help us in our goal to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State. For people with HIV/AIDS, housing is health care and the Albany Damien Center is committed to providing this foundation to ensure each person receives unfettered access to the care and support they deserve."
For people living with HIV/AIDS, the greatest unmet need in New York is housing. A 2014 survey of Damien Center members revealed that 80 percent had experienced homelessness at least once since their HIV diagnosis. Supportive housing is a key element of the Governor's plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State.