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1999 Best Practices
Success Stories

Program Name: The Kenmore Hall
Program Focus: Homelessness
Geographic Area: New York/ New Jersey
State:     New York  
City:     New York  

Executive Summary
Housing & Services, Inc., in partnership with federal, state, and local agencies and private businesses, has transformed a dilapidated old hotel, once a den of prostitution and drug trafficking, into a newly-renovated, livable community for low-income and homeless individuals. Their efforts have provided formerly homeless individuals in New York City with a permanent housing solution, and have transformed a neighborhood blight into a real asset.

The Kenmore Hotel, once a thriving hotel in the 1920s, had in most recent years deteriorated into a haven for drug and other criminal activity. The U.S. Marshals stepped in and seized the hotel in the 1990s. Following the seizure, the federal government invited nonprofit organizations to create a plan for renovating the hotel. Housing & Services, Inc., a private nonprofit, won the opportunity to transform the facility into a home for low-income and homeless individuals. Housing & Services was assisted in this effort by $11 million in loans from the city and state of New York, and a commitment of 300 Section 8 vouchers and $2 million in capital money from HUD. Housing & Services also received the support of the Department of Justice, as well as $1.8 million from Chase Manhattan Bank to bridge the gap for construction.

Housing & Services renovated the 641 single-room occupancy facility to create 326 studio apartments for single low-income individuals. The new apartments are twice the size of the old units, and have bathrooms, kitchens, and security intercoms. The renovations have dramatically enhanced the quality of life for existing tenants, as has the dramatic reduction in crime at the site. The resident population is about two-thirds elderly on fixed income, and one-third working poor, most of who were formerly homeless. As vacancies occur, homeless persons living in New York City shelters will move in (homeless individuals will occupy 60 percent of all the units). Housing and Services has renamed the Kenmore Hotel back to its original name, Kenmore Hall.

Kenmore Hall provides permanent, supportive housing for its residents. Human service providers are available on site, including substance abuse counselors, case managers, a recreational specialist, and a mental health counselor. A nurse is on-site everyday and a psychiatrist visits the facility weekly.

Housing & Services’ renovation of Kenmore Hall has received significant and well-deserved print media coverage, including an article in The New York Times. They have created a viable, long-term solution to help formerly homeless individuals improve their quality of life, while at the same time repairing a neighborhood blight and reducing crime. Their efforts are inspiring and may offer lessons for other organizations considering solutions to help homeless and low-income individuals.

Partners: HUD and Department of Justice

Financing: City and state of New York, Chase Manhattan Bank and other funding sources

Point of Contact: Steve Savarese, Phone: (212) 683-1212

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
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