For over 45 years, BRC has worked to break the cycle of homelessness in New York City. We help people reclaim lives lost, restoring hope and dignity by offering opportunities for health and self-sufficiency.
New York City's Bowery neighborhood once was a place where people went to hide from their problems, finding refuge in makeshift shelters and flophouses that offered little more than four-foot by six-foot cubicles with chicken wire roofs, dingy mattresses, and a single bare lightbulb. The men on the Bowery - New York's "Skid Row" - were mostly down and out alcoholics, sick, homeless, and without hope; most, but not all.
In 1971, a handful of these Bowery residents began to take control of their lives, and change them for the better.
Soon, others followed. They created a place where sober men could escape despair and support one another. That year, they created a self-help day program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous; they called it "The Social Rehabilitation Club for Public Inebriates," which they later named The Bowery Residents' Committee, or BRC as we know it today. In 1976, they created BRC's first residential program, the Sobering-Up Station, a place that offered professional support, and community action to those in need. BRC became a center of dignity and self-respect. It offered a place where participants were no longer seen as Bowery Bums.
Over the years, some of BRC's facilities were named after those original founders - Fred Cooper, Clyde Burton, and Jack Ryan. BRC’s services extended beyond substance abuse treatment: to transit outreach, temporary housing, workforce development, long-term housing, and more.
While we maintain our roots on the Bowery, we have grown.
Today, BRC has 27 programs throughout New York that work together to form a seamless continuum of caring and effective services that meet all of a clients' needs. We employ a holistic approach, helping clients achieve health, wellness, and economic self-sufficiency, offering an array of housing and services for more than 10,000 of New York’s neediest residents. Our innovative programs have been tested and recognized locally and nationally.
While BRC has grown geographically from our roots on the Bowery to serving our entire city, our vision and our values remain the same.
BRC is a place of opportunity for the people we serve, sustained and strengthened by their efforts and achievements. We see the potential in each person we meet and welcome them with an individualized plan that leads to personal results. We support our clients with an array of services and programs including street and transit outreach for the unsheltered homeless, substance abuse recovery, reentry from incarceration, health and mental health support, temporary housing and shelter, employment training, permanent housing, and senior support.
Our 27 diverse programs and residences are located throughout the city — from the Bowery to Bed-Stuy, the East Village to East New York, northern Manhattan to the South Bronx, and Chinatown to Chelsea. We are woven into the fabric of each unique community and the life of our City. If you look closely, you will see our BRC logo on jackets and vans every day - where our program staff and outreach teams are working to serve the residents of our city who are in need. There is not a neighborhood where BRC hasn’t been or where the need for our services doesn’t exist.
BRC's legacy as a grassroots organization still resonates in our programs and the people we serve, even as we have grown and developed into what the New York Times calls one of New York City’s most respected charities. BRC is where change happens — where individuals change their lives with hard work and support. And as our clients change, so too do our programs in response to new challenges and changing needs. By being flexible and responsive to client wishes, and by empowering our clients to take responsibility for and own their choices, BRC's approach helps individuals achieve their greatest level of independent living.