Facility houses youth, mentally ill in East Flatbush

City officials have faced a challenge when it comes to finding shelter for teens leaving the foster care system, the mentally ill and homeless, but a residence in East Flatbush is giving those groups a fresh start.

The Tilden Gardens is a six-story, 60-unit facility that opened about six months ago and provides shelter for those considered to be in the city's most vulnerable populations.

The facility also helps residents transition to independent living, offers employment services, health care connections and cooking lessons, according to Judi Kende, the vice president and New York market leader of Enterprise Community Partners.

One of the residents, Brian Coley, is training to be a chef and says he has completed the first portion of the facility's culinary program. He is staying in a studio apartment with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom area.

Community leaders and officials who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility called on the city to create more places like Tilden Gardens.

"It's a lot cheaper to have people living in housing than to have them living in shelters or in psychiatric hospitals or, unfortunately, ending up in prison or jail," says The Bridge CEO Susan Wiviott.

Now that Coley has a place to call home, he says he plans to work somewhere that specializes in breakfast, for which he has a proclivity.

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