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City of Albany, Albany Housing Authority Announce Purchase and Plans to Renovate 25 Warren St. (formerly known as the “Dream Center”)

September 05, 2017

* * PRESS RELEASE * *

Date: September 5, 2017
Contact: Brian Shea
518-434-5100

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY – Today, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Assemblymember John McDonald, Albany Housing Authority Executive Director Steve Longo, city officials, and community organizations announced the purchase and future plans for 25 Warren St. (formerly known as the “Dream Center”).  The building, located in Albany’s South End, has been purchased by the Albany Housing Authority and City of Albany, in conjunction with the Albany Community Development Agency. Through additional funding commitments from Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy and John McDonald, the three organizations will work together to rehabilitate and furnish the building with a new kitchen, video, and sound equipment, and lease it to the South End Children’s Café and Youth FX for one dollar.

This partnership will address youth food insecurity while providing young people with academic, technological, and artistic enrichment that supports them in and out of the classroom.  In addition to helping alleviate hunger in Albany’s South End, this new partnership will provide job readiness skills, volunteer opportunities and internships to give youth training for present and future success.

“The purchase and rehabilitation of 25 Warren Street will provide residents with a place to hone their skills to become more job-ready, all while reducing food insecurity among our children,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.  “Thank you to Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald, as well as the Albany Housing Authority, Albany Community Development Agency, Youth FX, and South End Children’s Cafe for their commitment to this project and the residents of Albany’s South End.” 

Once established at 25 Warren Street, the South End Children’s Cafe will expand the number of free, healthy dinners served daily to children in the South End of Albany.  The South End Children’s Cafe will educate children and families on healthy eating to improve habits and choices that impact future health and disease, and make healthy food accessible and equal in an underserved community impacted by food insecurity.  The South End Children’s Cafe will actively engage and partner with Capital South Campus for education, service and community building, and partner with the Radix Center, Community Gardens, and other agencies and people interested in reducing food insecurity and educating individuals about eating, growing, and accessing healthy and free foods.

Youth FX will use space at 25 Warren Street for production workshops for youth to teach cinematography, sound, editing, acting, lighting, and music.  A production facility will also be created to film commercial videos, training videos, music videos, interviews, and short films, and will include editing facilities for students who are currently working on projects, and for commercial video projects.  Youth FX will also host community events and workshops, film screenings, poetry nights, open mics, dinner and a movie family nights – all while maintaining a strong presence in a neighborhood with close proximity to many community based organizations such as Capital South Campus Center, A Village, RADIX, Albany Housing Authority, Howe Library, The Free School, and Grand Street Community Arts.

“I am pleased to partner with Mayor Sheehan and the Albany Housing Authority to make the Dream Center more than a dream but a reality,” said New York State Assemblymember John McDonald.  “The funding I have been able to secure for this effort will have a direct impact on this project, which will seek to provide opportunity and vision to the children we collectively represent in the South End of Albany and beyond.”

“This new initiative in Albany's South End will provide a safe place for young people to receive the academic, social, and creative support they need for success,” said New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.  “Helping youth develop workplace skills while addressing food security puts the Dream Center at the cutting edge of poverty alleviation.  Many thanks to Youth FX, the South End Children's Cafe, the City of Albany, and the Albany Housing Authority for forging this new partnership to give Albany's youth the tools to thrive!"  

“Today the Albany Housing Authority, by partnering with Mayor Sheehan and her administration, demonstrate that a city is not just about healthy real estate, it is about  the health of its citizens and their ability to form relationships that foster the growth of neighborhoods with individual character,” said Albany Housing Authority Executive Director Steve Longo.  “Soon this building at 25 Warren Street in the South End will become known to all as a safe, inviting place for youth and families to gather and create a Center for their community.”

“I am elated that Albany Housing Authority and the City of Albany have teamed up to purchase the Dream Center,” said Albany Common Council Member Dorcey Applyrs.  “The Dream Center is truly a dream come true for South End residents.  Providing access to healthy food and the arts will significantly enrich our communities.  This investment has endless potential and will add to the richness the South End has to offer.”

“I am excited that new life is being breathed into the South End,” said Albany Common Council Member Vivian Kornegay.  “The Albany Housing Authority and City of Albany's purchase of the Dream Center offers new and exciting activities and services to residents of the South End, and our neighboring communities.”

"Studies show that children who are food insecure are behind in school, have attention challenges, are more likely to repeat a grade and may have difficulty getting along with other children, and so I am grateful to Mayor Sheehan and Albany Housing’s Executive Director Steve Longo for caring so much about the community and including the South End Children’s Cafe in their vision,” said Tracie Killar, Director, South End Children’s Cafe.  “Since opening in 2015, we have served over 14,600 free, healthy dinners to children and their family members, and we are able to do this thanks to the generosity of Mayor Sheehan, Mr. Longo and the South End community.  Opening at this new location will enable us to serve more dinners and expand our programming, while partnering with others in the community dedicated to health and wellness."

"Youth FX is excited to have new home in the South End to continue to grow our programs and provide even more opportunities for young people in the City of Albany to engage with filmmaking and media arts,” said Bhawin Suchak, Director, Youth FX.  “We see this new space as a big step in the development of our organization while enabling us to strengthen our partnerships with nearby community based institutions such as the Capital South Campus Center, Radix Center, AVillage, Trinity Alliance, The Free School, Grand Street Community Arts and our fellow occupants in the space, the South End Children's Cafe."

“Today is a glorious day – it’s the beginning of something new for our community,” said Willie White, Executive Director of AVillage.  “We are happy that business leaders, community leaders, and elected officials have come together for the betterment of our city.  It really does take AVillage.  Thank you Mayor Sheehan for making this relationship possible.”

About Youth FX:
Youth FX is an intensive hands-on program designed to introduce young people aged 14-19 to the technical and creative aspects of digital film making by offering a thorough overview of the production process from script to screen.  It is based in the South End of Albany, NY, and focuses on visual storytelling, acquisition of digital production skills, artistic expression and performance.  Participants create digital video projects in various genres, including documentary, narrative short fiction all while working with experienced media instructors, filmmakers and artists to learn the various aspects of digital video production such as cinematography, editing, sound, and lighting. Youth FX primarily works with young people who reside in the South End, Arbor Hill and West Hill neighborhoods of Albany, NY.  These areas that have been historically under served and in need of meaningful opportunities for training and engagement in new digital media technology.

This program aims to foster and grow a community of young people who have a voice in shaping the destiny of their personal lives and their communities by telling their stories and acquiring media skills in emerging technologies. Youth FX participants engage in their communities by creating documentary and short fiction films that reflect their understanding and vision of the world around them.  What students learn at Youth FX not only enables them to be more creative and express their ideas, but they are also valuable skills that are in high demand in today’s technology based world.  Several students have even gone on to take their passion for film making at Youth FX and apply it to a career in film and digital media production.

Over the past eight years the Youth FX program has seen steady growth, from serving 11 students in its initial summer program in 2008 to over 35 students in the 2015 summer intensive.  The program has also expanded into offering after school programming and the demand for more year round programming has grown.  Overall Youth FX now reaches nearly 300 young people annually across the City of Albany through workshops, programs and screenings. 

The specific demographic that Youth FX is working with is the black, Latino and refugee youth population of Albany, NY.  These are communities that have historically been unable to access skills and tools of digital media production and in need of meaningful opportunities for training and engagement in new digital media technology.  Over the past five years the program’s racial demographics have been approximately 65% African-American, 15% Latino, 10% Caucasian and 10% South East Asian Refugees.

About South End Children’s Cafe:
Since opening in 2015, the South End Children’s Cafe has provided quality, healthy and free dinners to children and families residing in and around the South End of Albany.  In addition, an afterschool program has proven to offer needed academic enrichment, homework help, exercise, culinary skills and volunteer opportunities for the children and families involved.  Daily, more than 50 youth are served at the South End Children’s Cafe.  Parents involved in the Cafe have found a supportive environment where assistance in raising children, many of whom have a social, emotional, behavioral or other special need, is offered. 

Daily, The South End Children’s Cafe enjoys volunteers both in the kitchen and in the Cafe with the children.  Each week, approximately 30 new volunteers are entering the South End Children’s Cafe and are treated to a unique community program that exposes the volunteers to the positive aspect of not only the delivery service of the cafe but also the rich community.  Food is a great equalizer and sitting down at a meal together breaks barriers and creates opportunities. 

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