AARP Eye Center
We develop and provide permanent housing in New York City for women and their families with a history of homelessness. Nearly all of them have encountered adverse childhoods, domestic violence, mental health issues including PTSD from military service, involvement with criminal justice, and/or substance abuse. Our additional wraparound services help the women get on their feet and improve their lives. In two decades, we’ve provided that all-important place to call home to nearly 500 women and their children.
The problem I’m trying to solve
Last year, 123,000 New Yorkers slept in a shelter at some point, plus an untold more crashed on friends’ couches or in their cars. While most people have an image of the homeless as an older man, families headed by single mothers, especially women of color, make up a large portion of this population. Not having a home impacts everything: It’s harder to find a job or stay sober, and your children move from school to school, reducing their learning.
The 180 units of housing we offer across the city, everything from a studio to a four-bedroom apartment, provide that home along with a community of other families through our parties, workshops and other programs. All our tenants are under the poverty line and we charge rent of just 30 percent of their income, whatever that is. Being able to pay for their own home affords our tenants the dignity they deserve.
The moment that sparked my passion
Early in my life I had my own bout with substance abuse, receiving a much-needed wake-up call when a work colleague left a pamphlet for Alcoholics Anonymous on my desk. I checked myself into a women’s treatment program and was saved because of other people’s faith and confidence that I could do it. I decided then that helping others, especially women, overcome their own challenges would be my life’s work.