Housing for the homeless: where do we stand?

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:41 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Money to build a housing for the homeless in the north country was awarded nearly a year ago. So, what’s being done to find a permanent solution while a temporary homeless shelter sees its population grow to more than 2 dozen people?

The temporary shelter on Main Avenue in Watertown has been open for 11 days and officials say it’s time to start searching for a Plan B.

“It is a good location. It is spacious. It is close to services,” said Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray.

For a temporary homeless shelter, the former DealMaker body shop may be all of those things. But what it’s not is permanent.

“First of all, the conditions are makeshift. Clearly makeshift. It’s a garage. But it served the purpose for the need, for the immediacy of the need...Get them out of the elements of a severe storm,” said Gray.

A project that will help alleviate the issue is in the works.

With the help of a $2.5 million state grant awarded at the beginning of this year, Transitional Living Services, CREDO, and Neighbors of Watertown are working to finalize site plans for a new housing facility.

“The project itself is kind of two parts. Half of the project will be devoted to homeless persons with either a substance use disorder or serious mental illness. And then the other half of the project is going to bring more affordable housing to the community,” said

Maureen Cean, executive director, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York.

While Cean says the body shop is too small to fit the 60 rental units planned, the former DealMaker Conference Center next to the body shop could be a better fit.

“We have a choice of either having completely new construction on a green field, or it could be substantial rehabilitation of a building,” she said.

Gray says while the facility will help house people, it won’t solve every issue.

“That will answer that component of where we can place people. But there will still be a cyclical situation. Somebody will come in for emergency housing, or someone will come in homeless. Just purely homeless,” he said.

Cean points out, as they look for one location to build housing for the homeless, there are a few properties they are considering.