Over the next five years, the NYC Health + Hospitals system plans to leverage its land to create nearly 650 affordable homes for vulnerable New Yorkers.
The effort is part of a comprehensive initiative to serve the public hospital system’s large patient population experiencing homelessness. Last year, NYC Health + Hospitals provided care for 43,500 single adults experiencing homelessness—about 6% of the more than 725,000 patients it served.
“We have a unique history with the city of New York, and we have access to land,” says Leora Jontef, head of housing for the health system. “Redeveloping our underutilized publicly owned land adjacent to our health care facilities creates a true nexus between health and housing.”
By taking this action, hospital leaders are emphasizing the connection between housing and health care. People who are struggling with homelessness cannot address their chronic health issues without stable housing.
In addition to improving health outcomes, the Housing for Health initiative is also expected to save money and resources by reducing reliance on expensive emergency and hospital care. Adults experiencing homelessness have three times more hospital and emergency department visits than the general population, said officials.
NYC Health + Hospitals already has 1,600 apartments in 10 buildings on its land. What’s new is the health system is building on that earlier work and developing a steady pipeline of new housing to support patients on their journey from homelessness to housing, Jontef says.The hospital system typically provides long-term ground leases to developers, who then assemble the necessary capital stack and build the housing.
The most recent financing is the second phase of the Woodhull Residence on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. Nonprofit Comunilife is developing a 93-unit affordable and supportive building adjacent to a companion building that opened in 2019. This project closed on $41.5 million in financing in November 2022.
On the horizon, the Bowery Residents’ Committee is working on plans with the city and NYC Health + Hospitals to create 200 affordable housing units, 60% of which will be supportive housing, on a parcel at 1727 Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan. If approved, the aging building on the site will be demolished and replaced by the new housing.