20 Apartments Will Be Built to Serve Homeless People Living with HIV/AIDS
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of construction on a $5 million supportive housing development for chronically homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Albany. The new, 26,000-square-foot Albany Damien Center will have 20 permanent supportive housing apartments, in addition to serving as a home for the agency’s programs.
“Increasing access to supportive housing for those living with HIV is an essential component in the fight against AIDS,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new development will help these individuals find a safe place to live and provide them with life-saving health services they need. This project builds on the progress we’ve made in fighting this disease and supports this administration's efforts to end the epidemic in New York once and for all.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and other state and local officials joined the Damien Center for a groundbreaking ceremony in Albany today.
“Today's event further symbolizes Governor Cuomo's commitment to not only provide supportive housing for people in need across the State, it also works toward his goal of eradicating AIDS in New York," said Lieutenant Governor Hochul. “The funding we have awarded will enable the Damien Center to greatly expand its mission by providing housing, along with its full range of services at its new facility.”
The new Damien Center, which includes the renovation of an existing building and a new addition in Albany’s Pine Hills neighborhood, will provide supportive housing to 22 people living with HIV/AIDS who are chronically homeless. The center, a well-known organization in the Capital Region, serves individuals who are affected by HIV/AIDS and provides services to those who are not accessing HIV medical treatment and have limited social supports. The center is currently at a temporary location, after its former location was destroyed in a fire in 2013. The new site will now include permanent supportive housing, something that it previously lacked and is desperately needed. It is expected to open in August 2017.
The project is supported with $4.3 million from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program. The funding was allocated by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team housing initiative. A portion of Medicaid saving are redirected into initiatives that further reduce Medicaid costs, including housing for single homeless adults who are high-cost Medicaid users. Supportive housing has played an important role in these efforts, helping rein in costly Medicaid expenditures while more effectively managing the chronic conditions of individuals. The balance of the construction costs will be covered privately by the Damien Center.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented $10.45 billion homeless action plan, 84 community-based providers recently received funding to support a total of 121 projects. The Damien Center was among the organizations selected and will receive $360,000 annually to help with operating costs for these apartments.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “Governor Cuomo has long been a leader in the development of supportive housing and this project demonstrates his commitment to addressing the homeless crisis in New York State. Supportive housing brings together housing and the services necessary to help people improve their health and stabilize their lives.”
Senator Neil Breslin said, "The new Damien Center will provide much needed assistance to individuals who are affected by HIV/AIDS and who are chronically homeless. We have a duty to help those in need and providing supportive housing is critical to this effort. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his investment in the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Homeless and Housing Program."
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “The Albany Damien Center is the leading provider of services in the Capital Region to individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and New York State, the center will now be able to provide supportive housing to help ensure people get the care they need. Congratulations to Perry Junjulas and all at the Damien Center on this hard-earned and tremendous development.”
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “Tragedy hit the Albany Damien Center three years ago when the building burned down but the Center’s rebirth will provide the support and a new permanent home for chronically homeless people living with HIV/AIDS in our community. We know that housing for people with HIV or AIDS means healthcare and by addressing homelessness, we are helping people get the medical care they need.”
Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan said, “This funding commitment from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance confirms Governor Cuomo’s continuing advocacy for supportive housing. And by providing housing to the chronically homeless, the Damien Center once again demonstrates it is on the leading edge of compassionate care in the Capital Region.”
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.”
The cost of homelessness can be quite high and this investment will produce long-term savings for local and county government, as well as the state. Research has shown that a lack of stable housing is a formidable barrier to consistent engagement in HIV care and effectiveness at each point in the HIV care continuum.
Supportive housing is a key element of the Governor’s plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State. For people with HIV/AIDS, the greatest unmet need in New York is housing.