Henry Street’s Homeless Shelter Celebrates 40 Years

Verona Middleton-Jeter, David Garza, and Margarita Lopez,

Verona Middleton-Jeter, David Garza, and Margarita Lopez,

Earlier this month, we attended a commemoration at Henry Street Settlement for the Urban Family Center, which was a trailblazing homeless shelter when it opened 40 years ago and continues as a valuable community resource today.  Henry Street Executive Director David Garza led the event at Abrons Arts Center.  Among the attendees: his predecessor, Verona Middleton-Jeter, and Margarita Lopez, a NYCHA board member.

Before the Urban Family Center was created in 1972, many homeless families were living in horrible conditions in welfare hotels. The facility, located at 130 Baruch Place,  houses 82 families in individual apartments.  The temporary housing is paired with an array of social services meant to help families get back on their feet.  The keynote speaker, Dr. Ralph Da Costa-Nunez of the non-profit organization, Homes for the Homeless, said Henry Street, in creating the shelter, showed city agencies a better way to deal with a pervasive problem. In part due to the organization’s early efforts, he added, “New York is still the number one place in the country for dealing humanely with the homeless.”

During the commemoration, special awards were presented to several people, including Danny Kronenfeld, founding director of the Urban Family Center and Henry Street’s former executive director.