Guiding New Yorkers Homeward


© Photo Courtesy of Homeward NYC

Tonight, 58,000 New Yorkers will sleep in the City’s shelter system. Two-thirds of those New Yorkers are mothers and children.

Homeward NYC provides housing and wraparound services that empower homeless young mothers, LGBTQ+ young people, and older adults to live life forward. By obtaining housing first, homeless persons can find the stability they need to address trauma, build skills, and be active participants in their own care, goal setting, and achievement.

The nonprofit began in 1989 with a mixed-age residence. Their Upper West Side site is a transitional family shelter for homeless mothers and children and long-term, affordable housing for low-income and homeless seniors. The relationships formed are rewarding for both seniors and young families. Mixed-age activities improve physical and mental health in older adults.

The typical young mother they serve is age 22, with a child aged 23 months. These young women are just starting adulthood—and doing so as parents. Homeward NYC supports and empowers these young women as individuals, young parents, and heads of household so that they may be successful when they move from shelter to permanent housing.

“I went to every session—mommy and baby classes, business classes, CPR training, parenting, resume writing, job fairs… I didn’t want to miss anything,” says Quadriyah, a former resident, when asked about Homeward NYC’s skills-building programs.

© Damir Bosnjak

Like the young mothers the agency serves, LGBTQ+ youth start adulthood having experienced physical and emotional abuse for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Recognizing an unmet need, Homeward NYC opened the City’s first LGBTQ+-affirming supportive housing site in 2011 in West Harlem. Although LGBTQ+ folks are estimated at just seven percent of the total population, an astounding 40 percent of all homeless young adults identify as LGBTQ+.

Supportive housing (affordable housing with social work and support services) is vital to ending chronic homelessness. Homeward NYC supportive housing residents must be 18 to 24 when they enter, but the housing is non-time limited. Young adults don’t age out on their 25th birthday, an innovation now considered a best practice in supportive housing.

In 2015, the nonprofit opened its second LGBTQ+ housing site, this time in the Bronx. In 2021, they broke ground on a third site that will serve 50 LGBTQ+ young adults. Homeward Central Harlem is scheduled to open in fall 2023.

Homeward NYC (formerly known as West End Residences and True Colors Supportive Housing) serves homeless and low-income New Yorkers from all five boroughs. In addition to suffering the trauma of homelessness, most of their residents have experienced family violence or rejection.

At each site, Homeward NYC provides housing and support including counseling, case management for residents to access financial and health care benefits, connections to community resources, group activities, and basic life skills (today known as “adulting”). These services work to prevent future homelessness through care, resources, and skills-building for housing stability.

“We are committed to providing trauma-informed care,” says Jeannette K. Ruffins, Chief Executive Officer. She adds, “‘trauma-informed care’ simply means we recognize your life experiences affect how you respond to different situations. We know that understanding trauma and learning to recognize your strengths helps young people understand who they are, what they really want, and helps them move forward to set goals and fulfill dreams.”

You can learn more about Homeward NYC’s work or make a gift at

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We serve homeless young families, seniors and LGBTQ young people. Overcoming abuse and discrimination, Homeward NYC residents are some of New York City’s most vulnerable homeless persons.


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