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A unique homelessness approach built for women

Words by Tess Becker

The US is in a housing crisis, and with a potential recession looming and the cost of living continuing to climb, it's becoming harder by the day to make ends meet.

People are ending up on the street, and as winter months loom that can be deadly in colder states.

To combat this, a New York City non-profit is taking a ‘housing first’ approach, especially for women in crisis.

What is HousingPlus?

HousingPlus has been around for about two decades. Its founder, Rita Zimmer, noticed that most homeless shelters were made with men in mind and saw a need for shelters focused on giving women a place to go and by extension their children.

 “When they’re homeless, the children are homeless,” Zimmer said. 

HousingPlus works a little differently than normal shelters. They offer everything from studios to 3-bedroom apartments at drastically reduced prices, being capped at 30% of an individual's annual income. They currently have leased out 150 such properties sprinkled throughout Brooklyn with another 100 under construction. 

Tenants pay their share to the organization which then pays the rest to the landlords of the locations. 

The goal is to provide stable housing so these women can seek help for other problems plaguing them like drug dependency or mental health conditions.

“Our first tenants were formerly incarcerated women who had completed their sentences but could not find supportive housing that would accept them," they say.

“Ever since, HousingPlus has helped women navigate the structural barriers encountered when re-entering the community following imprisonment—public benefit/entitlement services, the foster care system, and seeking living-wage employment.”

Rita’s work earned her the AARP Purpose Prize in 2022.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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