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First NYC pet friendly homeless shelter

Anna Treyger

In a landmark development, the New York City Department of Homeless Services and the Urban Resource Institute have unveiled Uplift Families Residence, a pioneering transitional housing facility in the Bronx. 

This groundbreaking initiative redefines the landscape of sheltering by warmly welcoming families experiencing homelessness, along with their cherished pets. 

Uplift, boasting 161 purpose-built units and 587 beds, represents a monumental shift towards inclusivity and support for vulnerable families with pets. 

Inspired by URI’s highly successful People and Animals Living Safely program, initiated in collaboration with the NYC Human Resources Administration a decade ago, this endeavor marks a significant leap forward in pet-inclusive sheltering within the city. 

The pilot phase at Uplift Families Residence extends this novel approach to five families and their pets, setting a new standard in shelter services that is unparalleled among homeless shelters in the city currently.

Nathaniel Fields, CEO of URI, underscored the significance of pets in familial bonds, stating, “Pets are part of the family. Moreover, we know from our research and a decade of the URI People and Animals Living Safely program – 50% of survivors would not leave an abusive home unless they could take their pet with them.”

DHS Administrator Joslyn Carter also spoke about the importance of pets to many, “We recognize what an absolutely critical role pets play in the lives of some of our most vulnerable households during difficult times so we’re very excited to introduce this pet-inclusive approach to the DHS shelter system for the first time ever.” 

Angela Thompson, vice president of Homeless Families Programs at URI, highlighted the transformative impact of pets on the healing process, affirming, “Uplift represents a new era in homeless services, where families are not only provided with shelter but also the opportunity to stay together with their pets.”

Pet-friendly homeless shelters extend a lifeline to countless individuals experiencing homelessness, including veterans, who have formed strong emotional connections with their pets. 

The importance of pets in family dynamics as well as personal emotional health is a driving force behind the decision to include pets at the Uplift Families Residence in the Bronx, and other homeless shelters in the city may seek to follow its example. 

In a city renowned for its resilience and compassion, the inauguration of NYC’s first pet-friendly homeless shelter symbolizes not only a milestone but also a beacon of hope for families in crisis, providing them with the option of bringing another member of their family with them that could been separated from them before. 

Uplift Families Residence’s plan to shelter both humans and animals stands as a testament to NYC’s dedication to fostering a supportive shelter system. 

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