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Safety and a New Beginning at Saint Augustine Terrace

Cardinal Dolan joins Rebekah Miranda and her daughter Amber as they dedicated St. Augustine Terrace Housing

By Jim Sliney Jr.

In September 2018, Rebekah Miranda and her daughter Amber moved into a new apartment in the Saint Augustine Terrace building.

People move in and out of New York City all the time, so why is this different? Ms. Miranda spent the last 44 of her 45 years in the Forest Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development. Over time that place became less safe and like many public housing developments, began to fall into disrepair. She wanted to leave, but moving out of public housing means losing some of the housing stability it offers. Still, conditions deteriorated so much that she couldn’t stay any longer. She started applying for affordable housing lotteries and she landed an apartment in the new Saint Augustine Terrace building.

Saint Augustine Terrace is not just another residential building. It is part of a larger Catholic Homes program of Catholic Charities of New York, the Archdiocese of New York, and the NY Institute for Human Development to transform underutilized church properties into affordable housing units. In the next 10 years, it is expected that 2,000 affordable units will be created. Locations under development include Second Farms in the Bronx, Christopher Court in the Bronx, Grand Street Guild in Manhattan, St. Phillip Neri in the Bronx, and St. Vincent de Paul Senior Center in the Bronx. You can learn more about this program by visiting Catholichomesny.org.

True to the program, Saint Augustine Terrace is built on the site of Saint Augustine Church which was demolished in 2013. The church’s bell is now mounted by the front entrance, tying the past to the future by first welcoming parishioners and now residents.  

“The view from the top is amazing,” Ms. Miranda told the New York Times. “When you come out of the elevator, it’s all windows. On the Fourth of July, we went up to the top floor to watch the fireworks.” Her daughter Amber said, “I feel really, really happy here, and much safer. Our other neighborhood was just five blocks up, but there’s a stigma of living in the projects even though it’s the same area.” That sense of safety and security is so important in the big city.

The building also makes 35 of its 112 units available for adults with physical and emotional needs. They receive direct support from the Beacon of Hope program, a partner of CCNY and a member of the Coalition for the Homeless.

This is part of the mission of Catholic Charities of NY – to make living both affordable, safe and dignified for all New Yorkers. It’s vital that Catholic Charities provide services to all in need, but need wears many different faces.

“The Catholic Church of New York City is taking the lead in ensuring that low-income New Yorkers have access to well-built, well-maintained housing, along with the services to help those with the greatest needs,” said Monsignor Sullivan, “Housing is a basic human right.”