Today’s Video: Formerly Homeless Family Starts New Life at ‘Sugar Hill’

As loved ones gather together to celebrate the holidays, it can be easy to forget that more than 14,000 families, including 24,000 children, are in homeless shelters tonight – where boys and girls often struggle to sleep in decrepit, cramped rooms as they listen to rats and roaches scurrying around in the dark.

For nearly two years, Tisha Houser and her three kids were living that nightmare. Fortunately, they managed to escape the trauma of homelessness and proudly decorated their Christmas tree this year in an apartment of their own in the Broadway Housing Communities’ innovative Sugar Hill development. BHC’s founder, Ellen Baxter, pioneered the affordable and supportive housing model, which gives individuals and families like the Housers the stability of a permanent home along with the services they need to thrive. Ellen also co-founded the Coalition for the Homeless nearly 35 years ago and is an active member of our Board.

While the Housers are thrilled to be spending the holidays in their new home, thousands of other homeless families are anxiously waiting for more life-changing apartments to become available: More than 48,000 people applied for Sugar Hill’s 124 units when it opened last year. Permanent housing is significantly more cost-effective and humane than keeping families in squalid shelters, but legislators must fully embrace these research-backed, housing-based solutions developed by people like Ellen Baxter in order to meet the unprecedented need.

CBS New York told the Housers’ story.

New York Faces Struggle in Curbing Flophouse Schemes That Victimize Addicts

The newly renovated townhouse on Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn was described as being ideal for a family. “Be the first to live in this,” a rental advertisement says.

Instead, about 36 men squeeze inside the building, climbing into bunk beds at night, waiting in long lines for one of three bathrooms in the morning and adhering to the strict rules laid down by the man in charge of the house.

Once Homeless, NYC Family Starts New Life at ‘Sugar Hill’

Tisha Houser’s new apartment in Harlem is a work in progress — though she has no furniture yet, she does have a Christmas tree, and a place to call ‘home.’

As CBS2’s Kenneth Craig reported, Houser’s family spent nearly two years living in one of New York City’s homeless shelters after a domestic abuse situation.

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