Walton House supportive housing will serve vets, LGBTQ

At the ribbon cutting were (l-r) Don Shacknai, Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Lakesha Miller, New York City Housing Authority; Gary Vizioli, Wells Fargo Bank; Karen Wharton, U.S. Air Force veteran; Mark Kopinski, Jeircho Project board president; Tori Lyon, Jericho Project CEO; Senator Gustavo Rivera; Alan Bell, B&B Urban principal; Dr. Loree Sutton, U.S. Army retired brigadier general and commissioner of Department of Veterans’ Services; Ronald Oddo, The Home Depot; Julie Irwin, VA NY/NJ Health Care Network; Natalie Abatemarco, Citi Community Development and Citi Inclusive Finance and Michael Gelfand, MHG Architects.
Photo courtesy of Jericho Project

A new building is expected to serve two deserving yet often underserved communities.

A ribbon cutting was held on Tuesday, July 17 for a new affordable supportive housing residence called Walton House that is home to both young people and veterans in University Heights.

The ten-story, 89-unit building at 2065 Walton Avenue includes a set aside of 56 apartments for veterans, many of who are formerly homeless or low-income, as well as 33 for young adults, about 40% of which identify as LGBTQ, according to developers.

The project was developed over roughly four years as a joint venture between Jericho Project and B & B Urban, said Tori Lyon, Jericho Project CEO, adding that it is the first that Jericho has done as a joint venture.

Jericho Project was introduced to Alan Bell, B & B Urban Development principal, through one of their board members, when B & B was in the process of purchasing the lot, she said.

Jericho Project is dedicated to providing support services and housing for those in need, and has been serving veterans for the past decade, said Lyon.

Lyon acknowledged that the pairing of young adults with veterans, many of whom are older, was not the most obvious match, but that the plan was well researched.

“We decided on a unique design: we have three floors dedicated to young adults and then we have six floors dedicated to veterans,” said Lyon. “Although it is all one community, there are separate community spaces for young adults and veterans.”

To the best of her knowledge, this is the first pairing of veterans and people just starting their adult lives in a single building, though she said her organization did study other intergenerational housing arrangements, she said.

“We think it is a little bit of an experiment, but we think the intergenerational aspect will be interesting,” said Lyon.

The principal of B & B Urban, whose mission is to build new, energy-efficient and high-quality affordable housing, acknowledged that Walton House was a challenge.

“Completing Walton House has taught us that developing high-quality affordable housing for New Yorkers in need remains a very difficult but rewarding challenge,” said Alan Bell.

The building will also include support services for the two different cohorts of residents, said Lyon, with a veteran mentor that can connect the former service members to healthcare and life coaches for the youth focusing on educational and job assistance, said Lyon.

“Walton House will not only provide our homeless veterans and young adults in the Bronx, including those who identify as LGBTQ, with a real affordable place to live, but it will also connect them to the necessary supportive services that will help them on their path to self-sustenance and stability,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera, adding he commended the mayor and all the partners.

Walton House was the first project to be funded under de Blasio’s supportive housing initiative called New York 15/15, a plan to build 15,000 units over 15 years.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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