Settlement Housing Fund developed the St. John’s Place Family Center in 1990 as an alternative to welfare hotels. Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Center provides excellent temporary housing, day care, infant care, and other services to 97 families, assisting them in their search for affordable housing. In 1994, we added permanent housing for 33 low-income families in an adjacent building including ten families who relocated from the Center, and in 2004, we opened a new building across the street for 35 families. Under the leadership of Executive Director Louis Rodriguez and Board Chair Fran Levenson, St. John’s Place is a well regarded 23-year-old neighborhood organization that receives funding for youth and adult programming from both New York City and New York State government agencies, as well as from foundations and corporations. The agency has a strong track record of working with other community groups in Crown Heights and, for the past ten years, has co-sponsored an annual street festival with community leaders and has provided meeting space for local groups.
Through the St. John’s Place Family Center, HDFC (Housing Development Fund Corporation), we have begun the gut rehabilitation of a vacant, city-owned building located immediately adjacent to its facility. The three-story abandoned building has been an eyesore for more than twenty years. Once renovated, the structure will serve as a new Career and College Access Center, to help Family Center residents, unemployed young adults, and other community members obtain better employment opportunities. The Center is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2013 with the help of rehabilitation funds awarded by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City of New York, and grant support from The Lavanburg Foundation, The Brooklyn Community Foundation, and National Grid.
With support from a 2010 Housing for Everyone Grant from TD Charitable Foundation, we completed two projects to further revitalize St. John’s Place. In March 2011, we successfully renovated the basement of 1615 St. John's Place into office and classroom space that now houses our DREAMS/Youthbuild program. With funds from two Article 8A loans from the City, we also completed energy-efficiency improvements and building repairs at St. John’s Place Family Center and 1610 St. John’s Place. The buildings received new heating plants including energy-efficient boilers, hot water heaters and storage tanks; roof replacements and repair of the parapets and copings; masonry repointing (replacing brick mortar) throughout the buildings’ façades; and all new windows. In addition, we replaced all child guards and concrete walkways and installed a centralized surveillance system to provide real-time, web-based surveillance of all public areas. This work, completed in Summer 2012, lowered energy costs and improved the comfort and safety of 130 very low-income families, the majority of whom have been homeless.
Louis Rodriguez, Executive Director
St. John’s Place Family Center
1610 St. John’s Place
Brooklyn, NY 11233