Creating Safe, Supportive Housing for At-Risk LGBTQ+ Youth
MAKING HOME POSSIBLE IN NEW YORK
Freddie Mac, KeyBank and Homeward NYC are working together to construct new affordable, supportive housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth and those at risk of homelessness or aging out of foster care.
New York City has long served as a beacon for the LGBTQ+ community, drawing young people from across the globe — many of whom leave home in search of a sense of community and acceptance. Without the support of their families, however, this population faces a higher risk of homelessness.
“They are often put out of their household due to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jeannette Ruffins, CEO of Homeward NYC. “When your family tells you that who you are is fundamentally wrong, it fractures your sense of self and safety. They become homeless younger, and they are often homeless longer.”
In New York City, around 1,000 young adults age out of foster care each year, and about 20% of them become immediately homeless. With 40% of the city’s homeless youth population identifying as LGBTQ+, the city has a clear and immediate need for safe, affordable housing that serves this demographic.
To help address the needs of this vulnerable population, Freddie Mac Multifamily provided forward commitment financing to help build Homeward Central Harlem. Forward commitments are an innovative solution that allows Freddie Mac to support affordable housing by agreeing to purchase loans after construction or significant rehabilitation with certain financing terms locked in today. This can provide greater certainty and limit the risks of executing complex multifamily deals in volatile markets.
Homeward Central Harlem’s 51 units are available exclusively to very low-income young adults ages 18 to 25 who identify as LGBTQ+ and earn less than 50% of the area median income.
“It is affordable housing with built-in support services,” Ruffins said. “What we hope is that once our young adults are in a safe and affirming space, they can start to explore what they want for the future.”
Beyond affordability, the new Homeward Harlem development will offer built-in support services designed to meet the specific needs of LGBTQ+ youth. On-site counselors will help residents navigate life on their own and gain critical life skills, from cooking to job training.
Just 2.5 miles from Manhattan’s central business district, Harlem is home to the city’s largest LGBTQ+ community and is centrally located to a wide range of social services and public transportation. With the benefit of a safe and stable place to call home, residents will find the surrounding neighborhood provides no shortage of opportunities to continue their growth.
“They can find a career path, they maybe will return and finish their education,” Ruffins said. “They can develop new relationships that will help them move forward and create a family of choice, so that they can have a place where they can really belong.”
By providing innovative multifamily financing options like forward commitments, Freddie Mac is able to advance its mission to expand housing opportunities in underserved communities.
To learn more about Freddie Mac’s commitment to creating affordable housing that is both safe and sustainable, visit the Our Mission page.