Safe Harbors of the Hudson
“If you really want to have a transformative effect on a community, to bring economic development, to create a social and cultural hub, you have to do more than just housing. We felt from the beginning we wanted to be a presence in the city that could really help with the revitalization of the downtown.” – Lisa Silverstone, Executive Director, Safe Harbors
Based in the city of Newburgh, Safe Harbors of the Hudson offers a vibrant combination of supportive housing, the arts, and community engagement, serving thousands of area residents while playing a role in the revitalization of downtown.
They have been recipients of general operating support and a mini grant, as well as taking part in a Dyson Foundation-sponsored program with Cause Effective, an organization that helps nonprofits strengthen their development capacities. Because of the breadth of their programming, grants to Safe Harbors fall within the Health & Safety Net, Economic Vitality, and Strengthening Nonprofits themes.
Safe Harbors believes that supportive housing can not only be balanced with community development, but is vital to a functioning city. “It takes all stratas,” says Executive Director Lisa Silverstone, “diversity in culture, ethnicity, age, sexual identity, socio-economic backgrounds. That’s what makes for an interesting, vibrant community.”
Their Cornerstone Residence houses 128 people including those coming from homelessness (deemed ready to transition into permanent housing), veterans, people with mental health diagnoses and physical disabilities, artists in need of affordable live/work space, and low-income working adults.
The building provides on-site case management for its residents, free GED and college preparatory classes, job training, artist studios, a library, fitness center, and computer lab. It also offers programming to both residents and the community. Recently, Safe Harbors has partnered with RUPCO to lease and manage an additional 47 new housing units in downtown Newburgh in 2018.
Safe Harbors also has multiple arts venues. The Ann Street Gallery is a professionally curated, contemporary arts venue that exhibits local, regional, national, and international artists, as well as offering educational and arts programming for area youth. The Lobby at the Ritz is an intimate 125 seat-performance space that hosts a variety of performing arts, and is part of the famed Ritz Theater, where the television show I Love Lucy originated. Safe Harbors is in the process of restoring this important part of Newburgh’s history.
Alongside the Safe Harbors building is Safe Harbors Green, a half-acre, fully accessible, solar-lit urban park that hosts open air exhibitions, music performances, a children’s circus camp, and dances, all free and open to the community.
Safe Habors also has two thriving commercial tenants: Grit Works, a co-work space, and the 2 Alices Coffee Lounge.
“You can have a great coffee shop and formerly homeless people living above it and enjoying it; you can have a gallery and performing arts spaces and viable businesses, and house people living with mental illness. As soon as you separate people out, you don’t have a functioning community anymore. We’re showing you can make room for everyone and revitalize a community...do both, and downtown will thrive,” says Silverstone.