Funds will help NNY homeless

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has announced Department of Housing and Urban Development funding totaling $2,473,080 to be awarded to various projects to combat homelessness across the north country, including Jefferson and Lewis counties.

HUD’s Continuum of Care grants provide much needed support to local programs that serve both individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Benefitting organizations in Jefferson and Lewis counties include the Mental Health Association of Jefferson County, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, the Jefferson County Department of Social Services and Snow Belt Housing Company, Inc.

“I am pleased to announce this critical funding for several of our North Country communities in support of their work to combat homelessness,” said Congresswoman Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in a statement. “Particularly in rural and isolated areas, these programs are crucial in assisting those who need assistance. I will continue to advocate in support of these programs that play an integral role in our communities.”

According to Maureen Cean, executive director of Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, the organization received $408,982 for three separate projects serving both individuals and families and combatting homelessness in the area.

The first is a transitional housing project in Lewis County that serves people for periods of up to 24 months, the second provides permanent housing for chronically homeless individuals in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, and the third provides rapid rehousing in all three counties.

These projects are designed so that the household will pay no more than 30 percent of their income, whatever that may be, and each grant includes a variety of support services such as case managers that help with the creation of goals and working toward those goals.

“The projects ensure that people have a home that is safe and secure, that they do not pay a disproportionate amount of their income, and the housing that they acquire is not substandard,” Ms. Cean said. “We inspect the housing and make sure that it’s safe and habitable, and we’re really thrilled to be able to continue to provide these services to the tri-county area.”

Transitional Living’s projects currently serve up to 32 households throughout the Tri-County area.

Snow Belt Housing Company, in Lewis County, is set to receive a $32,789 renewal of HUD funds and, according to executive director Cheryl Shenkle-O’Neill, the organization has received about the same amount each year for the past three years in the category of rapid rehousing.

The concept is to move people quickly into the housing, for which the organization pays security deposits and assists with rent, and people are housed in the community with private landlords.

“HUD funding supplements what we’re already doing, but there’s never enough money when providing for people who are unsheltered, but this allows us to assist those folks and there is no income requirement so that’s a plus,” Mrs. Shenkle-O’Neill said. “These funds are especially needed as we are seeing an increase in homelessness every year.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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