Castle Gardens in Harlem, NY has won a 2011 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Award in the Special Needs Housing category.
In 1998, the Fortune Society, a nonprofit working to promote successful prisoner re-entry to society, was able to build local support for turning a long-abandoned building overlooking the Hudson River into Fortune Academy or the “Castle.” This building provided transitional housing to 62 homeless women and men with nowhere to go after being released from prison. Many years late, the property directly behind the Castle became available and allowed the Fortune Society, with development partners Jonathan Rose Companies, to expand its efforts to provide 114 units of permanent supportive housing for the formerly incarcerated and other community members in need of affordable housing. The property currently houses 50 formerly homeless individuals and 50 low-income families earning up to 60 percent of AMI.
Castle Gardens has 20,000 square feet of service space, including a large conference room, computer lab, and community room. Offices for caseworkers and small meeting rooms house programs available to all building residents. Programming including case management and counseling, vocational and educational services, and health and wellness-related services boast 100 percent participation from all formerly incarcerated residents. Beyond this programming, Castle Gardens offers substance abuse counseling, life skills courses, and job-readiness workshops. Many activities, such as computer lab hours, holiday parties, and community-supported agriculture produce share, engage all building residents, not only those requiring the most extensive social services. All residents have access to the Fortune Society’s services offered at its main offices in Queens, including family services and Alternatives to Incarceration programs, free of charge.
The 11-story development is LEED Gold certified and features many resident amenities, including a green roof terrace, rainwater harvesting, and bicycle storage in addition to the use of healthy building materials and energy-efficient systems and appliances.
Castle Gardens utilized many funding sources to achieve its vision. In addition to over $16 million in 4 percent Housing Credits syndicated by Hudson Housing Capital, the property used tax-exempt bond financing and a subsidy loan from the New York State Housing Finance Agency, along with a subsidy loan from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Project-based Section 8 vouchers were secured for all of the property’s supportive units.