Special NYC Shelter Battles Surge of Homelessness Among Young Adults

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

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Moussa Konate, 21

 “Nestled on a residential block in Harlem, Create Young Adult Residences looks like any other apartment building; a fire escape snakes up its rust-colored facade.” writes New York Times reporter Emily Palmer in this special Neediest Cases story published today and excerpted below featuring Create, a transitional housing program for young men 18 to 25 affiliated with Catholic Charities NY. 

Throughout the day, young men who live in the building, on West 128th Street, come and go, heading to and from school, jobs and neighborhood restaurants.

Create, a 50-bed transitional housing program, serves men 18 to 25, many of whom have recently aged out of the foster care system. Its residents are encouraged to study or to work, and to find permanent housing within nine months. The support system has proved invaluable to many.

Since 2009, Create, which is affiliated with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, one of the eight organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, has been home to nine recipients profiled over the years during the fund’s annual campaign. Combined, they have received almost $3,000.

One recipient this year, Moussa Konate, 21, a college student, shares a third-floor room that overlooks the back garden. Mr. Konate, who is Muslim, keeps an aqua-and-yellow prayer mat, a parting gift from his mother when he left Mali, at the head of his bed.

“This is the only shelter where I feel like I am home,” said Mr. Konate, who has stayed in two other city shelters. “I leave for work and come back to sleep. And when I’m back, I feel like I’m home.”

Create provides tenants with services like job-skills training, educational support and the opportunity to gain work experience.

G. Stephanie Ali, the vocation coordinator at Create, says the program provides a unique space to enable young men to gain their footing and transition into a permanent setting. Aspiring painters, novelists, basketball players, engineers, rap artists and producers have passed through the halls over the years, she said.

“Oftentimes at this age, young men feel they should be doing more,” Ms. Ali said, adding that overwhelming possibilities can hinder residents from focusing on goals. “So we’re there to help them see the broader scope of what’s out there and get them engaged in education and employment to meet that ultimate goal of housing.”

Soon after Idi Diallo, 21, a soccer player from Ivory Coast moved to New York, he found himself sleeping in the prayer hall of a mosque. After coming to Create (and helped by Catholic Charities NY, The New York Times Neediest Cases fund and donors who read his story), he later moved into his own apartment in the Bronx. He is now enrolled at Long Beach City College in California, studying business accounting.

“I can’t even describe how much Create and all the wonderful people there have helped me,” Mr. Diallo said recently. “Today, I look back on it as my new start. Moving there was the beginning of my success.”

Read Emily Palmer’s full profile of Create Young Adult Residences in The New York Times

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