The history of Samaritan Daytop Village is a history of innovation and leadership. And our success has been supported over the years by a professional staff that is dedicated and committed to our mission.
Read about our 50+ year history of helping thousands of New Yorkers improve the quality of their lives through treatment for substance use, innovative services for veterans, and programs for homeless individuals, women and children, seniors and families.
1960s: Formation in Queens
With humble beginnings, Samaritan Daytop Village began in 1960 when Father Damian Pitcaithly opens the Astoria Consultation Center, offering adolescent counseling in a Queens church. Astoria Consultation Center quickly becomes one of New York City’s first and most innovative drug treatment and counseling centers.
1970s: Pioneering Substance Use Treatment
In 1970, the agency opens its first residential facility to treat addiction in Sullivan County. The facility is certified by the New York State Drug Abuse Agency as a residential treatment program for substance users. That year, Samaritan Halfway Society holds its first graduation ceremony. Father Pitcaithly, who founded the agency and its mission, retires. He is succeeded by Richard Pruss, the agency’s new CEO.
By 1975, under the leadership of Mr. Pruss, the agency establishes itself as a pioneer in substance use treatment when it launches the country’s first methadone-to-abstinence residential treatment program also in Queens. Now under the name Samaritan Village, the agency begins acquiring facilities in Ellenville, Manhattan and the Bronx for residential treatment and forges working relationships with New York State and municipal departments of the City of New York. Cognizant of the need to foster personal and professional growth among its clients, the organization introduces services to encourage residents to pursue education and career training while in treatment. Samaritan Village is one of the first providers to offer primary health care services alongside treatment to address Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases facing clients. In 1979, the Samaritan Foundation is incorporated to oversee program development.
1980s: Pioneering Veteran-Focused Treatment
Starting in the 1980's Samaritan Village identifies a population, primarily Vietnam veterans, with special treatment needs. In response, Samaritan Village pioneers a model where substance use, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other life challenges could be addressed simultaneously.
1990s: Addressing Alternatives to Incarceration and Homelessness
In 1991, Samaritan Village launches its "On the Right Track" program at Grand Central Station for homeless substance users. In 1992, Samaritan Village partners with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office to develop treatment services for persons involved in the criminal justice system through innovative "alternatives to incarceration" programs. In 1994, the agency begins to confront the challenges posed by addicts in treatment living with HIV/AIDS patients and establishes the nation’s first nursing home for this population in conjunction with Project Return and HELP for the Homeless. The Forbell Men’s Shelter follows in 1995, offering temporary shelter to homeless men referred by the City while treating them for substance use. In 1996, Samaritan Village opens the State's first licensed residential treatment facility specifically for veterans in midtown Manhattan. The program receives national attention and is replicated ten years later with the Ed Thompson Veterans Program in Queens. At the end of the decade, Samaritan Village sees the importance of providing services to the community's elderly and assumes operation of the Woodside Senior Center.
2000s: Capital Investment and New Veterans Services
The 2000s see major capital investments in Samaritan Village's facilities. In 2003, construction begins on a "state-of-the-art" Methadone-to-Abstinence Residential Program (now called the Medically Assisted Treatment and Recovery Center) in Richmond Hill, Queens that will include a vocational training center and a fully equipped health care unit. In 2000, Samaritan Village opens Project COPE, a collaboration with the Federated Employment and Guidance Service to address the needs of individuals who have diagnosed mental health and addictive disorders and are unemployed. The agency begins working with the City of New York’s Department of Correction to provide Discharge Planning Services on Rikers Island.
In 2004, designs are completed for the comprehensive renovation of the agency's Ellenville campus in upstate New York. Improvements will include new class rooms, counseling offices, medical space, a gymnasium, and accessible accommodations for the disabled. In 2006 Samaritan Village opens Ed Thompson Veterans Program in Queens, its second facility for addicted veterans in response to increasing numbers of veterans returning from the Middle East. Samaritan Village secures State funding and begins construction of a standalone residential facility in Ellenville, among the first of its kind in the nation, to treat chemically dependent women veterans.
In 2008, after nearly four decades with Samaritan, Mr. Pruss steps down as President and CEO of Samaritan Village. He continues to serve as President Emeritus as well as Chair of the Samaritan Village Board of Directors. Mr. Pruss is succeeded by Tino Hernandez, who until then was the longest serving Chairman of the New York City Housing Authority.
2010-15: Expansion of Programs
2010 sees the start of a major expansion at Samaritan Village, driven in large part by the growth of its homeless services portfolio in response to New York City's call for quality shelter services. Gloria's House and Bridge Haven, Samaritan Village's first transitional housing facilities for homeless families, open in 2011 as does a shelter in Brooklyn for single women. A second men's shelter, "53rd Street," opens in existing space in Manhattan in 2013. Samaritan Village receives its first grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011 to fund the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, which works to combat homelessness for at-risk veterans and their families. The agency also receives a $2 million, five-year federal grant to offer HIV screening and prevention at its Jamaica Outpatient Program.
On the heels of this growth, Samaritan Village secures over $23 million in capital dollars from the State to renovate its Highbridge facility in the Bronx and $1.2 million from the City Council and the Manhattan Borough President to upgrade its Young Mothers Program, further ensuring that facilities continue to meet health and safety standards.
After Hurricane Sandy makes thousands of New Yorkers homeless in October 2012, the City asks Samaritan Village (and four other community organizations) to provide assistance to displaced residents under the Family Relocation Assistance Program (FRAP). Accessing its growing expertise in family housing solutions, Samaritan Village offers outreach, case management, housing assistance and a unique home repair component. Through our efforts, over 300 households return to their pre-Sandy addresses, secure new permanent housing or find other housing alternatives.
At the end of the year, Samaritan Village begins Narcan training for staff and clients at the Richmond Hill Medically-Assisted Treatment Program, thanks to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. Training later extends to all of the agency’s residential treatment facilities.
In 2013, Samaritan Village opens the Myrtle Avenue Men’s Shelter, its first homeless shelter for individuals with mental health issues, in Bedford Stuyvesant. That year Samaritan Village opens its first community residence, Veritas House, a structured, drug- and alcohol-free residential facility located in upper Manhattan.The following year, Samaritan Village begins direct administration of a 100-bed, co-ed residential facility in Ellenville ("Cape Road") and becomes the permanent operator in April 2015. In March of 2015, Samaritan Village opens the 198th Street Veterans Residence, its first permanent affordable housing for homeless or at-risk male veterans. Also in 2015 Samaritan Village receives a $1.75 million grant from the State, continuing its expansion of its permanent supportive housing portfolio to provide apartments for clients leaving treatment or shelter/transitional housing programs.
That year, Samaritan Village launches a Recovery Coach pilot program at the Ed Thompson Veterans Program. Eight clients are trained as recovery coaches to help teach newly admitted clients about recovery and the strategies needed to avoid relapse. Based on the success of the program, the agency begins plans to integrate Recovery Services throughout all of its treatment facilities.
2016 - Beyond: Enhancing Treatment through Integrative Services
Based on its previous success with Recovery Coaches and other peer-related services, Samaritan Village launches a new Recovery Services division in 2016 to help reinforce and strengthen its substance use clients' success with post-treatment recovery. A Recovery Coach training program is implemented throughout all of Samaritan's facilities.
In 2017, the agency is approved for an integrated license and ancillary withdrawal services for its portfolio of outpatient treatment programs. With the combined licensure, SDV is able to deliver a both substance use disorder and mental health services at its outpatient sites under a single license. SDV is now one of the few service providers in New York State to provide both substance use and mental health services under a single license.
Helping to meet the City’s needs to house homeless families, Samaritan Daytop Village opens Rachel’s House, a family transitional residence on Rogers Avenue in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The program has the capacity to house 132 homeless families. Also that year, Samaritan Daytop Village opens PARC (Peer Alliance Recovery Center) in Jamaica, Queens. Funded by New York State OASAS, PARC is a community-based recovery center where individuals from the community – in all stages of recovery – can socialize, learn and grow.
Thanks to a three-year grant from the New York City Department of Correction, Samaritan Daytop Village begins implementing SMART (Specialized Model for Adult Re-Entry & Training) at Rikers Island to reduce recidivism among detainees in the City’s jail system and recently released inmates.
Mergers and Partnerships Further Evolve Portfolio
Samaritan Village builds a strong reputation within New York's network of treatment providers leading to new opportunities for growth and partnerships. In November 2013, the agency partners with Damian Family Care Centers at the NYC Department of Corrections's Vernon C. Bain Center to provide behavioral health services for detainees.
In 2013 Samaritan Village merges with Veritas, preserving treatment programs in Manhattan Village and Harlem, and further diversifying services. With the Veritas merger, Samaritan Village also begins providing assessment and referral services to at-risk families in partnership with the Westchester County Department of Social Services. Originally offered in White Plains, Mount Vernon and Peekskill, assessment and referral services are extended to Yonkers by 2014.The Robin Hood Foundation partners with Samaritan Village and provides a grant to fund a team of “veteran navigators” to assist at-risk veterans and their families access treatment and housing placement services.
In 2014, Samaritan Village enters into discussions to merge with Daytop Village, an iconic substance use services provider based in New York with international outreach services. An agreement is signed in December delineating plans to formally merge the two agencies. In October 2015, Samaritan Village and Daytop Village officially merge and, with that merger, changes the newly combined agency's name to Samaritan Daytop Village.
SAMHSA awards $1.1 million to Samaritan Village and its grant partner Housing + Solutions to launch the HEROES (Housing, Employment and Recovery Opportunities for Empowering Self-Sufficiency) Program. Through HEROES, Samaritan Village helps 85 chronically homeless female veterans find permanent housing and, for those who require it, receive substance use treatment.
Helping Shape New York's Healthcare Policies
Nationwide, health and behavioral health providers work to adapt to the federal Affordable Health Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010. Samaritan Daytop Village, including its President and CEO, participates in several state task forces and advisory councils, such as the Medicaid Redesign Team and the Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council, all tasked with integrating behavioral and primary healthcare, lowering health care costs, improving service quality and overall population health and patient care.
Today at Samaritan Daytop Village
Today, Samaritan Daytop Village serves over 28,000 men, women and children each year at more than 50 locations throughout New York City, Long Island and upstate New York. The agency continues its work to fully capitalize on its strengths, particularly the professionalism of its staff and its creative spirit, to address emerging health and behavioral health policy changes occurring at the federal and state levels.
For more than five decades, Samaritan Daytop Village has been doing communities of good…worlds of good... for New Yorkers. Samaritan Daytop Village remains committed to providing premier health and human services to New York's men and women, families, veterans, homeless individuals and seniors. We are New York and we are doing more good in more ways than you ever possibly imagined.