Many new, exciting programs and developments are in the works here at CUCS. We recently sat down with Hadaryah Morgan, our Deputy General Counsel who has played a tremendous role laying the foundation for these new projects. She gave us some insight into her past legal work with housing and homeless services and what she likes most about working at CUCS.
Tell me a bit about your background.
Before coming to CUCS I was the Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Social Services. Previously, I was the Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). I worked at DHS for over thirteen years, having started as the Legislative Counsel, which enabled me to learn about homeless and housing policy issues across populations. There I handled the legal services in support of DHS’s programs and later on, its back end functions. I was part of the team that structured a lot of the programming that goes into things like rental assistance and homelessness prevention.
How did you get involved with CUCS?
I wanted to get experience working for a service provider. There are limited direct service opportunities with DHS as they generally contract their services out to nonprofit organizations. CUCS is a great provider with a great reputation and the staff is well known and admired for the standard of care they bring to their clients. When I saw there was an opening I applied and am now CUCS’s Deputy General Counsel. I primarily work with the back end functions like contracts, funding, and legal matters, but I also assist programs on legal issues when they arise.
What sparked your interest affordable housing and homeless services work?
As a native New Yorker, I’ve always had a passion for housing issues, and having a legal degree allowed me to get immersed in the structure of these issues and the laws impacting them. While housing costs have always been part of the conversation in New York, the homeless crisis really highlighted the City’s need for affordable and extremely low-income housing. The work I do gives programs that create affordable housing and better homeless services the tools they needed to function. A good contract lays the foundation for a good program and allows it to consistently deliver services on a broader level.
What are some of the projects you have worked on that have been exciting to you?
I like working on projects involving CUCS and Janian. I think Janian is very interesting and I love how it interacts with CUCS. I have done a lot of work on our new project Paul’s Place, and been involved in the planning for our West 127th Street supportive housing program, and the new Kelly transitional housing program.
I am really looking forward to seeing how these develop. One of the things that happens when you are working on the foundation of something is you start to imagine walking through the finished product. I can’t wait to see our staff help clients at Paul’s Place Drop-In Center and Safe Haven, and families move into West 127th Street.
What is your favorite part of working at CUCS?
When I first got here what really hit me was the focus on mental health. We do really important work in providing supportive housing services and protecting people from becoming homeless again. You cannot put people in housing without support because often they will end up on street again. They need help to get stable and CUCS provides that.
I also love how committed CUCS is to the work we do. We put a lot of care and thought into how we work with clients and are committed to improvement. CUCS is an incredibly humane place because our staff really attends to clients. They are patient, extremely helpful, and kind. They are innovative and always thinking of ways to better help people. That is amazing.