This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the non-profit HANAC, one of the largest and most important social services organi­zations in NYC, which provides affordable housing, various social programming, and independent liv­ing, especially for older adults, to diverse commu­nities in need across the boroughs. For the past five decades, HANAC has delivered on its mission while building a stellar reputation among the indus­try and the communities it serves.

The organization was originally founded in 1972 by George T. Douris with his wife, Evange­line’s, steadfast support, and it initially served as beacon of hope for local Greek immigrants, helping them to adjust to their new lives in the United States of America. After Mr. Douris’ passing in 1995, Mrs. Douris took the helm of HANAC as chairwoman, leading the non-profit forward and preserving Mr. Douris’ vision for the following 27 years. Over the decades, the mission has evolved with the ever-changing demographics in NYC, and HANAC has expanded its services to New York’s diverse and vulnerable populations, whether it be to find hous­ing, learn to speak English or to find employment.

“Half a century ago, Mr. Douris had the fore­sight to identify a vital need within a community. Since then, HANAC, led with passion and purpose by both Mr. and Mrs. Douris, has championed the organization’s mission to secure and deliver afford­able housing and crucial services to our neighbors,” said Stacy Bliagos, Executive Director, HANAC. “We are proud to be able to expand on Mr. Douris’ vision and mission and look forward to continuing to make a significant impact into the future.”

From leading efforts to build sustainable hous­ing, to management of over 400 affordable housing units serving nearly 1,000 people, and helping 30,000 people annually with its Social Service Pro­grams, HANAC has solidified its legacy as a pas­sion driven non-profit with the community roots and historical know-how to create foundational and ongoing positive change.

“This is a proud milestone for all of us at HANAC,” said Mrs. Douris. “My husband’s vision and commitment are executed day in and day out by the dedicated, compassionate and hardworking HANAC staff. He left us with a legacy that contin­ues to have a positive impact on the lives of thou­sands of individuals and families, providing much-needed services to even our newest immi­grant population.”

Since its original founding, HANAC has signif­icantly expanded its reach and impact, regularly working with the city, state, and federal government and other non-profit and for-profit organizations to provide the housing, social programming, and sup­port systems needed to build intergenerational com­munities across the boroughs.

HANAC has persevered in its mission and con­tinued to thrive as a positive force in the community despite changing demographics, shifting govern­ment priorities, and the ever-changing needs of the people they serve. Some of their most popular serv­ices include:
Older Adult Programming – Since its founding, HANAC has prioritized and been well-known for their wide variety of programming and services for older adults, including:

  • East West Connection Transportation, a van service with six scheduled routes that provides 38,000 one-way trips annually with over 1,100 reg­istered clients in seven Community Districts in Queens County.
  • Educational programming, such as Computer Instruction, Health and Wellness Classes, and Nu­tritional Workshops.
  • Recreational programming, such as Jewelry and Beading Classes, Arts & Crafts Classes, and Bingo Games.
  • Exercise programming, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Walking Club, and Dancercise Classes.
  • ESL Program – Started in 1972 as one of HANAC’s first programs, ESL training helps indi­viduals learn the English language and provide non-native English speakers with the tools they need to become active members of the community. Classes are free of charge and open to anyone 18 years of age or older. In the past five years, 3,850 ESL stu­dents have been promoted to the next level of in­struction.
  • Affordable Housing – HANAC provides af­fordable housing to almost 1,000 people. Over the next few years, they plan to expand that number by 1,500. HANAC has invested in sustainable building in all its housing projects, with some properties meeting passive house certification.
  • High School Equivalency Classes – HANAC offers classes to prepare people to take the exam needed to obtain a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma. Classes are free of charge and open to anyone 18 years of age or older.
  • OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Sup­ports) Program – HANAC helps individuals bat­tling substance use disorder.
  • The Family and Child Counseling Program – HANAC helps keep families together and ulti­mately out of the court system.

Additionally, HANAC has new projects and properties on the horizon, enabling them to expand their services to new communities and people who will greatly benefit from the organization’s expert­ise and assistance. HANAC recently joined Foxy Management as a non-profit partner for Garden Towers Apartments, an affordable and supportive housing development in the Morrisania neighbor­hood in the Bronx. The complex will offer 150 apartments for adults 62 and older across two sep­arate buildings. Forty-five apartments will be set aside for formerly homeless seniors who will have access to on-site services provided by HANAC, in­cluding case management, health care services, meals, transportation, and translation services. Con­struction is expected to finish next winter, 2023.

HANAC has also partnered with Innovation QNS, continuing to serve the Astoria community that has been HANAC’s home for 50 years. Inno­vation QNS, a community-driven plan to build upon Astoria’s rich cultural fabric and reactivate a dormant corner of the neighborhood as a vibrant, mixed-use creative district, will include more than 725 permanently affordable apartments with more than 100 intended to be designated as senior hous­ing. HANAC will market the senior apartments within the community and administer housing lot­teries for them in accordance with City require­ments and manage the units. HANAC will also advise on developing on-site services and program­ming for seniors.

In 2022 and beyond, HANAC will continue to expand the reach of their services and expertise be­yond New York City’s five boroughs, including a new project, to be announced, in White Plains.

First published in Queens Gazette on Feb 16, 2022