Ali Forney Center, a non-profit organization that operates programs and provides housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York City, plans on starting a new project with nonprofit developer Ascendant. The project will see the construction of a 10-story, 36-unit building that operates on the single-room occupancy model. The building will be divided into sections and tenants will share kitchens, bathrooms, and entertainment areas. The building’s model will be specifically implemented to provide low-income housing to young people that need it. The building will be constructed on East 106th in Harlem.
“The residents have both the opportunity to have independence and also avail themselves of community spaces and community programs,” said Alex Roque, Ali Forney Center’s executive director. “It will help young people exit homelessness.”
The residential units would likely be occupied by beneficiaries of Ali Forney Center programs. The low-income tenants of the building would have to pay a portion of their rent while the rest of it would be subsidized by city and state housing grants. To make the building an environment suitable for those who reside in it, support services will be provided including mental health services and an on-site gym which will be available along with a courtyard.
New York City is experiencing a housing problem and this project is seen by the Adams Administration as a viable solution to the problem. The project involving the Ali Forney Center and Ascendant was greenlit by the city’s Department of Housing which is looking to build 310 units of similar forms of housing under a project dubbed ShareNYC. ShareNYC includes two other housing projects in the city.
The Ali Forney and Ascendant project will go before the Manhattan Community Board 11 soon with Chairperson Xavier Santiago saying the plan will be voted on by the full board. According to Christopher Cirillo, Ascendant’s executive director, the project could take off next year and be available for occupancy in 2026.
The single-room occupancy form of housing is reminiscent of the old dormitory style that was available in New York City in the early 20th century. According to Gothamist, the available 200,000 dorm-style apartments played a vital role in the prevention of homelessness. However, the buildings were soon tainted with racist stereotypes of crime and poverty attached to them. New construction projects of the dorm-style apartments were banned in 1955. Since then, a significant number of the housing projects have either been demolished or gentrified.