New York City in the late 1980’s had a watershed period in which the triple challenges of homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse escalated precipitously. There were virtually no health, behavioral health, or housing programs tailored to the needs of our city’s increasingly multi-cultural population. Inadequately served by mainstream providers, low-income New Yorkers from Latino and other diverse communities were entering psychiatric and correctional facilities and homeless shelters in staggering numbers.
The escalating human costs of this situation and inequalities in the health and human services delivery system inspired me to create Comunilife. Our mission to “improve the quality of life and create a healthier tomorrow for New Yorkers with special needs in the Hispanic and broader communities” is geared to address the concerns of a vital and un-represented segment of our great city. Its name, Comunilife, reflects the deep conviction that people heal and thrive best when they are able to remain in the communities in which they are rooted – in which they played as children, received their first care and love, and hope to grow old.
Comunilife’s approach to service provision has proven to be extraordinarily effective. Today, we are New York’s largest single provider of supported scatter site housing for homeless people with HIV/AIDS; a nationally-recognized pioneer of suicide prevention services for Latina girls; and a cutting-edge provider of coordinated medical and behavioral health care for older Latinos with psychiatric diagnoses. We are regularly asked to make presentations on our culturally-competent, community-defined best practices at national and local conferences and forums.
Comunilife’s impressive success would not be possible without the generosity and vision of our loyal board of directors, the tireless dedication of our talented staff, the backing of our public and private funders, the contributions of our many individual donors, and – of course – the tremendous efforts and determination of the people that we serve. We are deeply grateful to all of you and hope we can count on your ongoing support as we continue transforming lives and building communities.
Rosa M. Gil, DSW
Founder, President & CEO