Westhab is just a few days away from welcoming its first clients at the brand-new Queens Boulevard Rapid Re-Housing Center in Queens. A few years ago in 2021, Queens Boulevard was a commercial property but has since undergone a substantial renovation to become a 175-bed transitional shelter that will be the first NYC shelter not only operated but also owned by Westhab.
Queens Boulevard will be one of the first “purpose-built” shelters in New York City, meaning the site was constructed to specifically serve shelter clients. The City’s new program with the Department of Homeless Services gives providers (like Westhab) a pathway to owning shelter buildings. Before this, private landlords leased most shelter spaces to providers. Through the Department of Homeless Services’ new debt service funding model, Cigna provided a $35.9 million loan to cover the acquisition and renovation of Queens Boulevard.
Thanks to these recent initiatives to foster nonprofit ownership of shelters, Westhab was able to custom-design Queens Boulevard’s layout for optimal programming. In addition to three floors of residential space, the shelter has two floors of social services for residents, including employment, housing, and case management services. Providing shelter clients with supportive services greatly increases the likelihood that residents will attain and, equally as important, retain permanent housing. The ability to custom design the physical space for programming gives providers like Westhab a new advantage in the fight against homelessness in NYC.
The opening of Queens Boulevard will add to the substantial growth Westhab has experienced in recent years and strengthen its role as a significant partner in New York City’s efforts to address homelessness. Richard Nightingale, President & CEO of Westhab, shared his excitement about the potential for purpose-built shelters and the opening of Queens Boulevard. “No one knows how to create safe and effective shelter spaces better than the teams who serve these vulnerable populations daily. Westhab is proud to continue expanding our services to those most in need in New York City. We are dedicated to the communities we serve and look forward to building communities and changing lives here in Queens.”
Westhab developed the property in partnership with Slate Property Group, which serves as the general contractor and Aufgang Architects and Skyline Engineering, who developed the project’s design. In the future, Westhab’s plan includes building a permanent, affordable housing development adjacent to the shelter.