Mental Health Supportive Housing

Posted on 12/10/2010 by The Bridge

Mental health supportive housing is critical for the treatment of, and recovery from serious mental illness. Supportive housing is a type of affordable housing that provides on-site services to people who need professional assistance to live more independently, including the former homeless, those with HIV/AIDS and people with mental illness or individuals with a history of substance abuse.

In some New York City neighborhoods however, support for building these residences has been scarce. There is, in some cases, a prevalent misconception that the mental health supportive housing developments would decrease property value. Recently NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy released a large-scale study disproving this misconception by evaluating the impact of supportive housing on property value based around home sale prices. The study confirmed that well run supportive housing can help both formerly homeless citizens and the neighborhoods in which they are built.

The Furman study evaluated the impact of 123 mental health supportive housing developments, opened between 1985 and 2003, across the city's five boroughs. The finding showed that in the 5 years after the residences were opened, prices of buildings nearest to the supportive housing development experienced steady growth, appreciating more than comparable properties that were slightly farther away. Mental health supportive housing apartment buildings cost substantially less than shelters, jails or beds in psychiatric hospitals. They are also often visually handsome and replace neighborhood eyesores or empty lots.

Our experience at The Bridge is consistent with the Furman study. In the past 25 years, we have developed 12 buildings in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and the Bronx. In every instance, property values have risen dramatically on the blocks in which we have developed. An example is our building on 105th Street between Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue. When we took over the abandoned building, it was a drug den and source of criminal activity. There were a number of other buildings on the block that were either abandoned or in very poor condition. Our construction became the anchor for development on the block. Within 10 years, there were no longer any abandoned buildings and the quality of life on the block improved dramatically. This experience has been repeated in virtually all of our other projects.

This study is significant because it proves beyond a doubt that people who were once homeless can be good neighbors and citizens. The findings refute fears that supportive housing developments will depress the value of neighboring properties over time.

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