Approximately one in four women are victims of some form of domestic violence every single year. One of the most important aspects of healing for these victims is access to safe housing. In an effort to help make survivors feel more comfortable in their surroundings, Rich & Gardner has partnered with Grace Brown House and Christopher Community, Inc. to provide affordable and safe housing to the homeless domestic violence victims of Cortland, New York.
The History of Grace Brown
*Trigger warning. The following paragraphs contain details of domestic violence. *
Grace Brown House is named after a woman local to Cortland, New York, who tragically lost her life in a domestic violence situation by the hands of her intimate partner, Chester Gillette, in July of 1906. Grace Brown, also known as Billy Brown, was born in upstate New York in Chenango County, roughly 45 minutes outside of Cortland.
Ms. Brown relocated to Cortland in search for a better life, where she met Mr. Gillette. Ms. Brown soon became pregnant with Mr. Gillette’s child which caused an issue for her, as at the time, un-married women becoming pregnant were strongly looked down upon. Soon after, Ms. Brown moved back to her hometown with her family, allowing Mr. Gillette to entertain other women, making it clear that he had no intention of marrying Ms. Brown.
Stating that he wanted to spend time together, Mr. Gillette took Ms. Brown on a getaway to Big Moose Lake. While there, the couple decided to go kayaking, resulting in the downing of Ms. Brown. Shortly after, Mr. Gillette was arrested and charged with the murder of Grace Billy Brown.
Today, Grace Brown’s name is honored for her transformative influence on domestic violence awareness in Cortland County.
About Grace Brown House
Since the ending of Grace Brown’s life, Grace Brown House strives to provide women that find themselves in similar, dangerous scenarios a safe place to live.
Grace Brown House is specifically for homeless women experiencing, or in fear of experiencing domestic violence in the city of Cortland, New York. Cortland is a very small community in need of support for these situations. Grace Brown House plans to aid homeless victims with rental assistance in the event that lack of funds is a contributing issue in being unable to find safe housing.
Grace Brown House is supported by the local chapter of YCMA and aims to offer victims of domestic violence a life that was not possible before.
Rich & Gardner’s Partnership with Grace Brown House
Rich & Gardner is working with Grace Brown House to make safe, affordable, and accessible housing to women and their children who are at risk or experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence situations in Cortland County. Rich & Gardner is doing so by providing full-service general contracting services throughout the duration of construction.
In June 2021, NYS announced that construction would begin on Grace Brown House in Courtland County. Grace Brown House is a 7.7 million dollar project, containing 25 apartments – 18 one bedrooms and seven two bedroom – with amenities to keep victims and their children safe and comfortable.
Funding for this project comes from NYS’ five-year affordable housing plan. Other state programs and agencies supporting the construction project of Grace Brown House include subsidies from the Homes and Community Renewal, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program.
Grace Brown House is going to be a beneficial addition of Cortland County. In addition to providing 25 women and their children housing, the building will also include a community room, a computer lab, a play area for children, laundry facilities, an outdoor patio, a playground, and offices for the property manager and on-site service workers. There will also be a pick-up and drop-off location on site. Two of the apartments will be fully accessible for individuals with mobility impairments, as well as two more apartments fully accessible for individuals with vision impairments.
Residents who may not have their own personal vehicle will have easy access to public transportation in order to get to and from work, the store, doctors’ appointment, etc.
Rich & Gardner is proud to be part of this impactful project to make the community more livable and secure for victims. The construction services that Rich & Gardner is providing to the Grace Brown House project play a critical role in bringing these affordable housing plans and services to life.