New Yorkers are increasingly driven into homelessness by domestic violence.

A recent report released by New York City comptroller Scott Stringer reveals that 12,541 people entered a Department of Homeless Services shelter due to domestic violence in fiscal 2018. That includes more than 4,500 women and 7,000 children, more than half (56%) of whom were under 6 years of age. During the year, domestic violence accounted for 41% of the family population entering homeless shelters—by far the single largest cause of homelessness for people entering the system and an increase of 44% in five years.

Designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, The Jennings is located close to public transportation and a range of services, including day careand after-school programs.
Ben Gabbe Designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, The Jennings is located close to public transportation and a range of services, including day care
and after-school programs.

Few organizations understand this better than New Destiny Housing Corp., which has been providing housing and services to people who have experienced domestic violence for 25 years.

The nonprofit recently opened its latest development, The Jennings, which features 42 affordable units, including 23 units set aside for homeless domestic violence survivors. In addition to providing one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, the Bronx development offers on-site services from counseling and case management to children’s programs and job readiness coaching.

“Domestic violence victims must often choose between living in dangerous situations or becoming homeless,” says Carol Corden, executive director of New Destiny. “This beautiful new building will provide a safe beginning for families fleeing domestic violence. And, the availability of on-site services will ensure that tenants have the tools they need to build secure futures for themselves and their children.”

In addition to securing housing, domestic violence survivors may still be suffering from trauma and may face a number of other difficult challenges, including navigating the legal system for a divorce, a child custody battle, or an order of protection. In many cases, the New Destiny team is able to provide important referrals so residents can get assistance for different problems.

The residents are referred to New Destiny by the domestic violence shelter system. The organization then prescreens the candidates to understand their situations and know that the individual or family is safe, says Joan Beck, director of housing development.

While the nonprofit focuses on assisting domestic violence survivors, it also serves others in their housing developments. At The Jennings, 55% of the units serve domestic violence survivors. However, the nonprofit also serves others in their properties to create a diverse community. As a result, the remaining 45% of the apartments serve other households earning up to 80% of the area median income. It’s a model that has worked for the nonprofit.

The Jennings was several years in the making. It took about two years just to assemble the multiple layers of financing needed to develop the $26.5 million project, according to Beck.

The financing includes approximately $14 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from Enterprise Community Investment. TD Bank provided an $8 million construction loan. The New York City Retirement Systems will provide a $3.3 million permanent loan, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided a $3.4 million second mortgage, and the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp. provided $5.1 million in funding. The Corporation for Supportive Housing provided an acquisition loan that made it possible to buy the property, which previously housed a one-story commercial building.