ABO Developments - Summer 2011 - (Page 8)

THE DOE FUND Building Affordable Housing in (and Despite) New York City BY S T E V E N C U T L E R T he Doe Fund, established in 1990, is one of the more visible non-profits operating in New York City. Their street-cleaning teams of “men in blue” — formerly homeless graduates of the fund’s Ready, Willing and Able life-retraining program — have become a familiar sight. A Better Place for formerly homeless men and women living with HIV or AIDS. The program’s mission is simple, yet profound, as anyone who has talked to one of their eminently approachable workers on the street has probably learned: to empower homeless, incarcerated and drug-addicted citizens to reinvent themselves as self-sufficient contributing members of society. The Ready, Willing and Able program, which has helped more than 4,500 men and women become drug-free and employed full time, utilizes a multifaceted holistic work and job skills program. The work it pays trainees to do, like cleaning the streets, along with an educational component and support program, prepares them for fulltime employment in the general marketplace. But from the beginning, Doe Fund Founder and President George McDonald knew an essential element of the program would entail equipping trainees to obtain their own self-supported housing — a potentially steep hurdle in a city with a dearth of affordable housing. Their solution: build the housing they need. “Housing has always been a cornerstone of our program,” says McDonald, an ABO member since 1988. The Fund has developed several transitional and permanent residential projects to house trainees at various stages of their progress. The Doe Fund’s first project was a transitional facility on Gates Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, which houses 70 program participants. HPD provided funding for the acquisition and renovation of an abandoned building into a single room occupancy facility. The building crew was recruited from hundreds of homeless people who applied for the job. Forty-five applicants became the first trainees working for The Doe Fund, in 1990. Next, McDonald transformed a cityowned 70,000-square-foot former school in Harlem into a facility to house 200 men. The property was upgraded with $1.5 million raised through individual donors and improved by the city, which replaced the roof and fixed the façade. McDonald’s third building, the Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity, a transitional facility in East Williamsburg, is state-of-the-art, he boasts — “the best thing since chopped liver” — thanks in part to the construction by ABO co-chair Jeff Levine’s Douglaston Development, which came in, according to McDonald, intoning that sacrosanct five-word accolade, “on time and under budget.” A 75,000-square-foot former textile factory converted into a 400 bed transitional residence, The Peter Jay Sharp Center won the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce “Building Brooklyn” award for its positive impact on 8 | A B O D E V E LO P ME NTS • www.abogny.com http://www.abogny.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABO Developments - Summer 2011

A Letter from the Executive Director
Commissioner Wambua at ABO Luncheon
The Doe Fund – Building Affordable Housing in New York City
Builders Roundtable – Commissioning New Development
Revitalized RAM Program Gets New Membership Coordinator
Index of Advertisers/Advertisers Dot Com

ABO Developments - Summer 2011