State gets involved in helping Watertown’s homeless problem

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - For the first time, we’re hearing that New York state is helping with Watertown’s homeless situation - evident by a state representative seeing the conditions people were living in firsthand.

“Make no mistake about it, the conditions over there are raw and he was in awe of what is...these living conditions,” said Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray.

He was describing the way homeless people were living under the Butler Pavilion.

Tuesday, the pavilion is empty. Most people moved to the temporary shelter on Main Avenue, which is housing about 20 people.

Supplies from the state are starting to show up.

“The National Guard called up and they delivered blankets, sheets, pillows,” said Gray.

To be exact, the state brought in 2 refrigerators, a microwave, 60 towels, 30 pillows and 30 blankets.

To help fund the help, Watertown City Council will allocate up to $25,000. The check won’t be written until council knows exactly where it needs to go.

Although Gray says he is happy that local officials and the state are stepping in, he wants to reiterate this is not a permanent solution. The discussion on what’s next stills needs to happen.

“The city, the county, the state and not-for-profits, please come together, and let’s solve this issue. It is in the best interest of everybody that lives in our community,” said Gray.

Grays says until more permanent solutions are sought, the state’s Emergency Operations Center will continue to help.

Those permanent solutions, 2 separate warming centers, aren’t open yet because of staffing issues.