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You are here: Top Stories Women in Need and Supportive Housing
The word “homeless,” if you go back 30 years, once tended to evoke a singular image in the form of a lone down and out male. In the past, this perception might have matched the profile of homelessness in the New York City landscape. That has drastically changed; today most homeless are family units comprised of women and children. The not-for-profit organization Women in Need (WIN) – founded in 1983 – has been there for these women and children since it's inception, while remaining steadfast in an approach that views homelessness as the end result of a number of symptoms and breakdowns.

CEO Bonnie Stone would tell you that physical and mental health, employment, education and childcare needs, among other issues, overlap to culminate in the ever-present and personal tragedy of homelessness, a plight that has only worsened along with economic conditions.

As such, for single individuals in New York City, “Supportive Housing” has long been successfully employed to address this complex tangle of problems. Only now is this methodology beginning to be utilized for families. That’s not the case for WIN, who has been well ahead of the curve in supporting families from its inception.

For example, WIN opened Triangle House in 1999 to serve 12 families headed by women in substance abuse recovery programs. Building on that, WIN replicated their success by later establishing the Brooklyn Recovery Program, housing 15 families and the Bronx Recovery Program, which situates 22 families.

WIN also continues to stay out front in areas that fly under the radar of other organizations. Children aging out of foster care is one area that qualifies. WIN has over 600 shelter units and about 240 permanent supportive housing apartments today.  Almost 3000 people live in WIN housing every might and most of them are children

Abruptly thrown into the real world at 18 – and often far behind their contemporaries in crucial skills – children aging out of foster care enter the adult world minus the basic security of shelter. Many times there are further complications, as these young adults are likely to bring children of their own with them.

In accordance, Stone points out that 14% of all families in shelters are headed by young people who have “graduated” from foster care. WIN is being supportive by providing 62 scattered-site apartments in Brooklyn via their Women in Supportive Housing (WISH) program.

Serving 9,000 people every year, one of WIN’s major challenges is the dramatic policy changes that occur on average every six to nine months. Obviously, its resiliency and adaptability enables WIN to endure, but it is the generosity of WIN's numerous donors who are crucial to its mission. Because of them, empowered by a strong sense of mission, WIN is able to stay in position to continue securing victories on a daily basis – year after year, and family after family. 

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