A HOLIDAY STORY ON WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
NEW YORK: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Manhattan, Queens) joined a coalition of community groups today to announce the formation of the 23rd Street Partnership, a community improvement project that seeks to reduce homelessness by providing job-skills training and employment in community-improvement projects for low-income men and women. Maloney said of the Partnership, "If anyone ever tells you that a small group of people working together to make a difference doesn't have an impact, tell them to check out the 23rd Street Partnership where a few good people are helping to change a neighborhood and improve lives."
Housing and Services Incorporated (HSI) - the organization that manages Kenmore Hall - has partnered with the Gramercy Park Block Association (GPBA), the Association of Community Employment Programs (ACE), and the 23rd Street Association to create the 23rd Street Partnership that employs Kenmore tenants and other homeless persons. The program prepares once homeless men and women to re-enter the workforce through community enhancement projects in the 23rd Street area, including environmentally focused neighborhood cleanup projects. Others at the event today included: Claire Haaga, President, and Larry Oaks, Director of Property Management - HSI; Arlene Harrison, President of the Gramercy Park Block Association; Sharon Ullman, Executive Director, and Steve Dore, President - 23rd Street Association; and Henry Buhl, Founder and President of ACE.
Maloney said, "The 23rd Street Partnership is another step in a tradition of allied community improvement at Kenmore Hall and in the Gramercy Park neighborhood."
BACKGROUND: In the eighties and early nineties, elderly and mentally ill tenants at the Kenmore were preyed upon by drug dealers, loan sharks, and others engaged in criminal activities. At that time, the Kenmore had more than 500 building code violations, it had been the scene of multiple tenant murders, and it was, in short, uninhabitable. After repeated failed attempts to convince the owner to clean up the hotel, Maloney asked the Justice Department to step in. Under the direction of Attorney General Janet Reno, the Kenmore was seized in June of 1994, becoming the largest asset forfeiture in the history of the federal government. Two years later, HSI commenced a complete renovation of the premises transforming the building into what is now Kenmore Hall. The 641 single units were converted to 326 studio apartments, each with a private bath, kitchen, and air conditioning. The tenants are now served by a 35 person staff that includes front desk personnel, maintenance and repair staff, social workers, and a full time on site manager. In addition, HSI brokered agreements with local health providers so that there are nurses, psychiatrists, and a myriad of other service providers offering on-site assistance to tenants in need.