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Our History

For 50 years, BRC has worked to break the cycle of homelessness in New York City. We help people reclaim lives lost, restoring hope and dignity by offering opportunities for health and self-sufficiency.

Our Origin

New York City's Bowery neighborhood once was a place where people went to hide from their problems, finding refuge in makeshift shelters and flophouses that offered little more than four-foot by six-foot cubicles with chicken wire roofs, dingy mattresses, and a single bare lightbulb. The men on the Bowery - New York's "Skid Row" - were mostly down and out alcoholics, sick, homeless, and without hope; most, but not all.

 

In 1971, a handful of these Bowery residents began to take control of their lives, and change them for the better.

 

Soon, others followed. They created a place where sober men could escape despair and support one another. That year, they created a self-help day program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous; they called it "The Social Rehabilitation Club for Public Inebriates," which they later named The Bowery Residents' Committee, or BRC as we know it today.

 

In 1976, they created BRC's first residential program, the Sobering-Up Station, a place that offered professional support, and community action to those in need. BRC became a center of dignity and self-respect. It offered a place where participants were no longer seen as Bowery Bums. 

 

Over the years, some of BRC's facilities were named after those original founders - Fred Cooper, Clyde Burton, and Jack Ryan. BRC’s services extended beyond substance abuse treatment: to transit outreach, temporary housing, workforce development, long-term housing, and more.

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TIMELINE

1971

Founded

BRC is founded by a small group of down-and-out residents of the Bowery's infamous "flophouses" to take control of their lives and change them for the better. To enhance their mutual welfare, they form a self-help day-program called "The Social Rehabilitation Club for Public Inebriates," later named The Bowery Residents' Committee (BRC). BRC's legacy as a grassroots organization still resonates in our programs and the people we serve, even as we have grown and developed into what the New York Times calls one of New York City’s most respected charities.

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1976

Residential Program

BRC establishes its first residential program, the Sobering-Up Station, a place that offered professional support, and community action to those in need. With this development, BRC became a center of dignity and self-respect for New Yorkers in crisis.

1987

NYC's Homeless Outreach

BRC recieves it's first grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to create New York City's first homeless outreach program for those with mental illness.

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1983

Supportive Housing

BRC opens it's first "scatter-site" supportive housing program, leasing and maintaining apartments in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Today, this program houses over 350 formerly homeless men and women with a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse.

1992

Senior Housing

BRC opens its first housing facility and residence for seniors on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, named in honor of former client and volunteer, Clyde Burton House. Serving older adults, Clyde Burton House ensures that New Yorker's vulnerable elderly have safe, stable, and consistent access to housing and services.

1994

Housing Vouchers

BRC is one of 7 NYC nonprofits selected to administer the Federal Government's first ever voucher program designed to provide housing for people experienching homelessness in New York City.

1996

HIV/AIDS Support

BRC integrates HIV/AIDS services, including pre- and post-test counselling, into its programs. In the next three years, BRC will dedicate more than 70 rooms in its Glass Factory and Los Vecinos Apartments (now ,known as the Sadiqua Khabir House), to housing individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

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2004

Transitional Shelter

BRC opens two transitional shelters and a 24-hour drop-in center at the Palace: an employment shelter and permenant residence that BRC created from infamous the cubicle-style flophouse dormitories at Bleecker St and Bowery, significantly expanding supportive services for individuals experiencing homelessness in the City.

2006

Outreach in Subways

BRC is awarded the The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)'s "Connections" contract, enabing BRC outreach workers to serve New Yorkers experiencing homelessness in subway stations and transit hubs. This initiative marks the start of what is now known as BRC's Transit Outreach services, which continue in subways throughout the city.

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2007

Safe Haven

BRC pioneers the first Safe Haven program in NYC, creating to facilities designed to reduce barriers-to-entry into shelters for high-risk individuals by removing strict curfews and sobriety rules. After a successful pilot phase, this model was adopted by service providers across the city.

2014

The Overdose Crisis

BRC adds medically supervised withdrawal services to it's Chemical Dependency Crisis Center as rates of drug overdose rise in the city. In future years, this service will be expanded to include clinically-focused, treatment-based residential stabilization and rehabilitation services.

2015

Nonprofit Excellent Award

BRC is announced as the winner of the New York Community Trust's Nonprofit Excellence Award.

2018

HomeStretch Housing

BRC celebrates the opening of its Landing Road Residences: the Reaching New Heights Residence and The Apartments at Landing Road. The completion of this project demonstrates the success of the HomeStretch model, and is positioned for replication in New York City and around the world.

2020

COVID-19 Response

BRC's faces the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, with dedicated frontline staff continuing outreach and providing life saving services to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness throughout the ongoing economic and health crisis.

2021

50th Anniversary

BRC marks it's 50 Year Anniversary. Join us for the kick-off event, BRC's 2021 "The Way Home Gala," on June 16, 2021 and stay tuned for a year of programming and celebration.

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