Westhab was founded in 1981 by a group of real estate professionals and activist clergy frustrated by the growing affordable housing crisis in Westchester County, NY. An early partnership with the Westchester County Department of Social Services led to the development of a new method of housing the homeless – using public assistance funds to preserve and expand good, low-income housing rather than continuing to pay for expensive and inadequate motel shelter. Westchester County was the first in the nation to use this innovative approach and, with the aid of a Ford Foundation grant, replicated this approach in five other states.
Over the next decade Westhab acquired vacant buildings and renovated them into new transitional and permanent housing. By the early 1990’s however, with homelessness on the rise here, as it was nationwide, the County asked Westhab to renovate and operate shelters for them. In the depths of the crisis, Westhab managed four shelters, but continued to develop permanent affordable housing and expanded to provide employment training and youth services programs. In the process we became Westchester County’s leading provider of housing and supportive services for low-income populations.
As Westhab achieved success in helping hundreds of homeless families move to permanent housing each year, we recognized the lack of quality, affordable housing and local services in the communities to which many of our former shelter residents were re-locating. Westhab then strengthened our focus on affordable housing production and community building in these neighborhoods. Throughout the early 2000’s Westhab continued to expand our services, housing, and mission, and in 2006, when a substantial reduction in homelessness enabled the County to close two shelters, we had already initiated community-based youth and employment programs as well as community resource centers in the cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Recently Westhab has expanded geographically, developing affordable and supportive housing in the Bronx. And, in response to changing needs, our real estate development pipeline includes a greater proportion of mixed-income, senior, veterans, and special needs housing.