‘Supportive Housing Is The Solution To Homelessness’
Tori Lyon, the CEO of the Jericho Project, which operates supportive housing units for 2,500 for formerly homeless individuals in New York City, joined me for a discussion about her work. She asserts simply that “Supportive housing is the solution to homelessness.”
She explains how operating supportive housing is less expensive than having people live on the streets, where they are frequent flyers in shelters, emergency rooms and jail cells–all of which are expensive to operate.
Tory is passionate about finding ways to help even the most challenging residents. She explained how she worked with four different agencies to convince a man living in the woods on Staten Island with five pets to move–with all the animals–into one of the Jericho Project’s housing units. It has been a challenging 18 months. The animals are now gone and he remains housed.
Interview with Tori Lyon, the Chief Executive Officer of Jericho Project.
The following is the pre-interview with Tori Lyon. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit
Revenue model: Jericho Project is funded with a combination of public funds from the Federal Government, New York State and New York City, as well as private donors. As an example, Jericho’s newest supportive housing residence for veterans and young adults, many of whom identify as LGBTQ, is New York City’s first supportive housing development to open under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC 15/15 Initiative to provide 15,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years.
Scale: Jericho Project is based in New York City and serves over 2,500 adults and children, including 750 veterans, with nine supportive housing residences and programs across the City. Jericho has 170 employees and annual revenue of over $21 million.
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
Tori Lyon, CEO of Jericho Project, leads Jericho Project, a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit that for 36 years has enabled homeless individuals to move “off the streets and on with life.”
Jericho accomplishes this by strengthening the four corners of a person’s life – housing, employment, wellness and family. Jericho offers the stability of housing through over 550 units of supportive housing in nine residences and supportive apartments across the city. With a dedicated team of expert program managers and on-site case managers, Jericho collaborates with clients to create a community that inspires individual change and motivates formerly homeless men and women to reach their greatest potential.
Today Jericho serves 2,500 individuals and families, including 750 veterans, annually. 95% do not return to homelessness.
Tori led the fight against veterans homelessness in New York City with a visionary program established in 2006. Now she has set her sights on homelessness among Young Adults – 40% of whom identify as LGBTQ, estimated at 5,000 in New York City. For the last two years Jericho has been implementing innovative housing and service strategies for homeless Young Adults. Tori can share some of these with your audiences:
Ways to prevent homelessness – such as “rapid rehousing” of at-risk and homeless young people into affordable apartments with supports in place for long-term stability
How to end homelessness with a first-of-its-kind Young Adult Residence in the Bronx
Crucial onsite counseling for employment and self-sufficiency
Strategies for working with individuals coming off trauma at a young age
Among Jericho’s 9 supportive housing residences are three state-of-the-art veterans residences with comprehensive onsite employment and counseling programs.
More about Jericho Project :
Jericho Project is a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit ending homelessness at its roots in New York City. Founded in 1983, Jericho Project creates a community that inspires individual change, fosters sustainable independence, and motivates men and women to reach their greatest potential. With over 550 units of supportive housing and comprehensive services, Jericho’s innovations include its award-winning Veterans Initiative and its newest program serving Young Adults, many of whom identify as LGBTQ. Jericho’s rigorous fiscal discipline, innovative public-private partnerships and base of passionate donors have created a solid track record of results. 95% of clients maintain housing stability. www.jerichoproject.org
Tori Lyon. Photo Credit: Liana Miuccio Photography
Tori Lyon ’s bio:
Tori Lyon is CEO of Jericho Project, a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit ending homelessness at its roots in New York City. Under her leadership, Jericho has developed a model of permanent supportive housing and comprehensive services that has enabled thousands of homeless and at-risk individuals and families to attain the stability of housing and lead fulfilling lives.
Since taking the helm at Jericho first as Executive Director in 2005 and then as Chief Executive Officer in 2016, Lyon has significantly grown the organization’s strategic offerings and impact, today serving over 2,500 adults and children, including 750 veterans, with nine supportive housing residences and programs across the City.
Jericho’s newest and largest supportive housing residence, Walton House, opened in 2018 with studio apartments, community rooms, garden, fitness center and other amenities for 89 formerly homeless veterans and young, largely LGBTQ, adults. The residence is New York City’s first supportive housing development to open under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC 15/15 Initiative to provide 15,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years.
“For 36 years, Jericho Project has shown that the stability of housing and supportive services can inspire individual change and enable our residents to achieve their greatest potential,” Lyon says.
Jericho’s tagline, “Off the Streets. On with Life.” conveys the “culture of moving on” that she has nurtured in her 22-year tenure at the organization and its exemplary result that 95% of Jericho’s tenants do not return to homelessness.
One example of Lyon’s visionary approach to solving homelessness is Jericho’s Veterans Initiative, begun in 2006 when she foresaw the rising need to enable veterans to return to civilian life with dignity. Jericho has been instrumental in New York City’s national leadership in significantly reducing veterans homelessness. Lyon served on the Executive Committee for the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care Veterans Task Force as well as on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Task Force to guide the city’s plan to build 15,000 units of supportive housing.
She is now working to reduce homelessness among young LGBTQ adults, a vulnerable and deeply underserved population of New Yorkers.
Jericho and Lyon have been recognized for excellence, with the 2017 Nonprofit of the Year Award by New York Housing Conference, the Brava! Award by Smart CEO in 2016, and the Best Supportive Housing Award for Kingsbridge Terrace by the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY).
Lyon is a frequent speaker at national forums on strategies for combating chronic homelessness, such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
A graduate of Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Lyon brings her keen business sense to Jericho, ensuring donors and partners of its efficient use of funds. Jericho’s permanent supportive housing and extended services cost $13,000 per person annually, about half of the $32,000 for a city shelter cot, $50,000 for a room in a family shelter and a fraction of the $168,000 for a city jail cell.
Her deeply committed and effective leadership style has also been instrumental in the expansion of Jericho Project as an organization. Over the years she has hired, mentored and empowered a strong team of experienced executives, talented young staffers and a passionate, hands-on Board.
She is a loving wife and mother of two, for whom she strives to be a role model, showing them how to be passionate about their interests and contribute to their community.
Lyon joined Jericho Project in 1996 as the Director of Development. In 1999, she was promoted to Associate Executive Director; in 2005 she became Jericho’s third Executive Director, and in 2016 she was named Chief Executive Officer. During her tenure, she has overseen the development of six supportive housing programs and led the strategic growth of the agency, increasing the annual number of people served five-fold since 2010.
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