Housing Works

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Housing Works is a New York City based non-profit fighting AIDS and homelessness. The charity is well known for its operations, which have recently included outreach to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. As of March 2017, the organization has served 30,000 clients.[1]

In 1990, five members of the famous AIDS activist group ACT UP—Keith Cylar, Charles King, Gerri Wells, Eric Sawyer and Virginia Shubert—decided to dedicate themselves to serving one of New York City’s most neglected populations: the tens of thousands of homeless men, women, and children in New York City living with HIV and AIDS. The activists called their new group Housing Works because they believed that stable housing was the key to helping HIV-positive people live healthy and fulfilling lives and to prevent the further spread of the virus.[2]


Housing Works Cafe and Bookstore in SoHo, New York City

The organization runs a chain of twelve thrift shops, a bookstore, a catering company and a screen printing business as social enterprises to support their work and lower their dependence on grants and donations. They also provide health care and legal aid services. The group has satellite offices in Albany, New York and Brooklyn, New York.

Bookstore and Cafe[edit]

Founded in 1994 and located in Soho on Crosby St, the bookstore cafe[3] is a successful entrepreneurial business raising money to support the Housing Works mission. Run primarily by a team of specially trained volunteers, the bookstore is funded entirely by donations, and resells both in the retail space and online. Free and ticketed events[4] occur almost every night of the week, and the space is often privately rented for parties, lectures, and is a very popular wedding destination. Events range from story time and sing a long for families, a middle-grade book group[5], live comedy, music and performance (artists include Iron and Wine[6], Bjork, The Black Keys, Conor Oberst, and more), and many literary events celebrating established writers and new talent. The venue also hosts twice-monthly editions of The Moth StorySLAM.

Thrift shops[edit]

Housing Works is well known in New York City for its chain of upscale thrift shops. The New York Times frequently mentions the shops in its neighborhood reviews.[7] Housing Works Thrift Shop is featured in Seinfeld episode 173, "The Bookstore". George is forced to buy a book from Brentano's Bookstore because he took it in the restroom. He then tries to donate it to Housing Works Thrift Shop and claim a $200 tax write off but the clerk at the thrift shop used to work for Brentano's so she recoginizes the book has been flagged that it has been in the restroom and runs him out of the store.

Haiti earthquake relief[edit]

In early 2010, Housing Works became involved in providing assistance to victims of Haiti's earthquake, especially those living with HIV/AIDS, by re-building three health clinics.[8][9][10] Housing Works CEO Charles King auctioned off his trademark pony tail, and one bidder was Evangelical preacher Rick Warren.[8][10] When Housing Works relief workers were forced to "abandon eight carry on bags filled with relief supplies" due to high fees, Delta Air Lines agreed to ship the supplies for free.[9]


Housing Works is involved in advocating for health care reform.[11]

Weddings, Catering, Bookstore, Special Events[edit]

Housing Works Weddings. "The Works Catering" and The "Housing Works Bookstore" are social enterprises that are part of and benefit Housing Works, Inc.

The Works Catering produces high end Weddings and Special Events at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho and throughout NYC. 100% of profits go directly to the mission of Housing Works, Inc. [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Housing Works. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  2. ^ Housing Works website Accessed September 7th, 2010.
  3. ^ "Bookstore Cafe | Housing Works". Housing Works. Housing Works. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  4. ^ "Events | Housing Works". Housing Works. Housing Works. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  5. ^ "Face to Face: Middle Readers Book Group (8-12) | Housing Works". Housing Works. Housing Works. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  6. ^ "Live From Home with Iron & Wine | Housing Works". Housing Works. Housing Works. 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  7. ^ See, e.g., Alan Feur, "Local Stop: Greenwich Village: Venturing Out on a Handyman’s Errand," New York Times, January 28, 2010, found at New York Times website. Accessed February 23, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Ben Smith, "Warren bids on ponytail," Blog, Politico, February 4, 2010, found at Politico website, citing Housing Works press release at its website. Accessed February 23, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Staff, "Delta Helps HIV/AIDS Haiti Relief Workers," On Top Magazine, February 2, 2010, found at On Top Magazine website. Accessed February 23, 2010.
  10. ^ a b AP staff, "AIDS activist cutting 14-inch ponytail for Haiti benefit", New York Post, February 5, 2010, found at New York Post website. Accessed February 23, 2010.
  11. ^ Diana Scholl, "AIDS Advocates Question Healthcare and Spending Cuts," Blog, RH Reality Check, February 1, 2010, found at Alternet website. Accessed February 23, 2010.

External links[edit]