hero media helmsley

Helmsley Announces Housing for Health Initiative for New Yorkers with Complex Health and Social Needs

Accelerating the path to permanent, supportive housing

NEW YORK, January 16, 2024 – Today the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announces a major initiative to clear the longstanding hurdles standing between health stability, safe housing, and a population of people who are critically underserved: New Yorkers with complex health and social needs who are experiencing homelessness.

Housing and health are inextricably linked, and this initiative funds innovations designed for the growing segment of New Yorkers who need both a home and tailored medical care. With $17.6 million in awards to date, the initiative will anchor grantmaking by Helmsley’s New York City Program for the coming years.

“Stable housing is the first step toward stable health, especially for the population we focus on—New Yorkers who require complex care and are some of our city’s most vulnerable. We know that homelessness is a solvable problem, and our grants this year are focused on eliminating unnecessary barriers into housing, supporting the right care to maintain stability, and, with the expertise that will emerge from a new collaborative on housing for health, helping to strengthen the field of durable, responsive housing solutions. Together, with our grantees, we are ready to do our part to respond to one of New York City’s biggest health crises,” said Tracy Perrizo, Program Officer for Helmsley’s New York City Program.

Many people with a history of homelessness have major health problems – and major health problems can also lead to homelessness. A study of homeless adults in Manhattan found that 42 percent had serious medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic liver disease, and peripheral vascular disease[1]. In 2022, 21 percent of the national homeless population experienced severe mental illness and 16 percent had substance use disorders[2], and that percentage is much higher in denser urban areas like NYC. Co-morbidities are common, and as the homeless population ages, medical needs become more acute.

Research has shown that supportive housing—permanent, affordable housing with onsite services that provide easy access to ongoing help—can effectively get people back on their feet. Despite its success, most offerings and funding right now are too narrow to really help those who require the most complex care. Others involve onerous criteria and lengthy wait times with bureaucratic barriers, and as a result, thousands of units remain empty despite high demand. Helmsley aims to drive innovation that will close the gaps in support and simplify the process for finding homes that meet individuals’ varied needs.

Helmsley awarded grants to the following organizations in 2023:

  • Anthos|Home works to speed access to affordable housing for New York City residents with housing vouchers—particularly those with higher health needs. Backed by a three-year, $7.5 million grant from Helmsley and modeled on the nationally recognized Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool model, Anthos|Home streamlines each step of the voucher-to-housing process for New Yorkers who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. They utilize flexible funds to bring apartments online while applications are processed, match households to appropriate units, take on the administrative burden for both tenants and housing providers, connect tenants to community services, and provide ongoing supports to ensure housing stability and success. By speeding exits from shelter and reducing government workload, Anthos|Home also frees up critical government resources.
  • Breaking Ground launched Project Welcome Mat, backed by a $1.7 million, three-year grant from Helmsley. Administrative burdens in securing supportive housing can extend the time people remain in transitional housing or on the street. The three-year project will move 650 people from homeless to permanently housed on an accelerated timeline.
  • Convergent Impact will develop and convene a collaborative focused on housing for health with $4 million over three years from Helmsley. Based on a collaborative model that Helmsley has successfully deployed in the past, this effort will convene experts in the housing for health community to work together to identify and promote the most promising solutions towards health stability for homeless New Yorkers with complex health needs. Their work will range from increasing access to stable housing to building the capacity of providers to access private and public funding, to recommending opportunities for future investment.
  • The Corporation for Supportive Housing will develop best practices for delivering higher levels of needed care to supportive housing tenants with complex health needs, release an RFP to pilot models for possible wider adoption, and evaluate these pilots for effectiveness and sustainability. Helmsley will fund these efforts with a $3 million grant over three years.
  • FJC received a three-year, $600,000 Helmsley grant supporting the NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness, a collaborative philanthropic effort that invests in novel, evidence-based efforts to prevent young people and families from becoming homeless and to end the underlying conditions that give rise to homelessness. This grant builds upon a first grant to the Fund, in which Helmsley was an inaugural funder in 2020.
  • The Supportive Housing Network of New York received an $800,000, three-year grant to build a centralized, best-of-class training academy and community of practice for the network, to share expertise across programs and better equip supportive housing providers to train staff with the knowledge, tools, and resources to handle the growing number of challenging situations they face in their jobs. The project aims to improve job retention, job satisfaction, and more within a sector that struggles to retain skilled and trained staff.

This year’s initiative announcement and suite of grants build upon prior investments in homeless healthcare, as well as initial forays into housing for health grantmaking made prior to 2023, which namely include a tele-mental health aftercare program to support domestic violence survivors and their families housed with federal emergency housing vouchers at New Destiny Housing Corporation, and strategic planning support for The Health & Housing Consortium in NYC to deepen collaboration between the health and housing fields across New York City.

“We have a longstanding commitment to supporting people with complex health needs. We realized that their challenges too often include housing, and we’ve turned our attention to clearing the hurdles that prevent these New Yorkers from living in permanent homes,” said David Panzirer, Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Philanthropic dollars can give a big boost to programs offering a new kind of care or removing obstacles so that safety, security, and dignity can become a reality for our neighbors who have gone without for far too long.”

[1] Levitt, A. J., Culhane, D.P., DeGenova, J., O’Quinn, P., Bainbridge, J. (2009). “Health and Social Characteristics of Homeless Adults in Manhattan Who Were Chronically or Not Chronically Unsheltered.” Psychiatric Services 60 (7): 978.

[2] Sutherland, H., Ali, M. M., Rosenoff, E. (2021) Health Conditions Among Individuals with a History of Homelessness. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


# # #



Helmsley Charitable Trust, Michelle Tsai, mtsai@helmsleytrust.org