When people picture New York, they think of looming buildings, busy folks and bustling traffic. In stark contrast to these images stand magnificent green spaces. Parks like Central and Riverside play a crucial role in the well-being of city dwellers, who utilize them for a reprieve from the city that never sleeps. The positive impacts that green spaces have on wellness have been researched expansively and CUCS ensures that at each of its buildings, there is ample outdoor space for clients to benefit from.
July marks 24 years since CUCS became an independent nonprofit. What began as a small, interdisciplinary project at Columbia University, named Columbia University Community Services, turned into one of the nation’s leading supportive housing service providers – serving over 50,000 people a year! In honor of CUCS’ 24th birthday, we sat down with Tony Hannigan, President, CEO and founder of CUCS, to discuss the history and some of the greatest challenges and successes the organization has seen over the years.
Helping people exit homelessness is at the heart of all that CUCS does. Our housing programs help individuals and families find communities and stability. Within these housing programs are many stories of recovery and success. Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Maxine, a resident of The Lee supportive housing residence, about how she recently celebrated her successes.
In 1988, CUCS began providing services to the women living at the 350 Lafayette shelter in Lower Manhattan. Over the course of the last 30 years, our 350 Lafayette program expanded to 43 beds and has transitioned nearly 2,000 women into permanent housing. We transformed what was a struggling shelter into a safe community where women with histories of homelessness and mental illness could find safety and stability.
In December 2016, CUCS received two grants to support the Home to Stay Program, one from the Durst Family Foundation and the other from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation. Each foundation asked that the funding be used to provide whatever support or assistance necessary to ensure success for families moving out of shelter and into their own apartments. Although CUCS’ Home to Stay Program will be closing its doors at the end of June, we were able to provide a lasting gift of support to many of the families in the program thanks the generosity of the two foundations.