Jefferson County could become home to special apartments

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 5:11 PM EST
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OSWEGO, New York (WWNY) - Two western New York-based not-for-profits have their eyes set on Jefferson County for 100 apartments.

They say they’d be affordable places to live for working people. Plus, a third of the apartments would be for homeless veterans.

It’s not here yet, but this group recently did a similar project in Oswego.

The Lock 7 Apartments opened this past fall and for people who live there, it’s the start of a new beginning.

“It’s like God dropped this right into my lap,” said Gina Lucenti, a resident.

Standing beside Lock 7 along the Oswego River, the complex by DePaul Properties offers people, sometimes homeless, a place to get back on their feet often through providing mental health services, life management skills, and help with finding jobs.

“It’s wonderful. It’s teaching me again how I can live on my own. I mean, I get extra help if I need some, but I’m living on my own and getting back into the groove of just taking care of myself,” said Lucenti.

Lucenti and Joshua Wittmann have been living there for a few months.

“Before this, I was homeless and had to go to a mental hospital for a few weeks,” said Wittmann.

Mayor Billy Barlow says it was a swift, community-involved process.

“We definitely supported the project and, of course, it’s been successful so far. I think it’s at 100 percent capacity already,” he said.

With the success of the Lock 7 Apartments in Oswego, DePaul is looking to bring options to Watertown. Teaming up with Eagle Star Housing, it’ll focus more on housing for veterans

“We will sit there with them, with meeting with the VA, with DSS, whoever they need to meet with, and help guide them through the process to get them the paperwork they need,” said Zachary Fuller, executive director, Eagle Star Housing.

Fort Drum is a big factor in coming to Watertown.

“Watertown is a natural destination to see if our services are needed, and we think they are,” said Fuller.

The vice president for DePaul says both it and Eagle Star Housing have been awarded grants from the state to provide services in Jefferson County.

Some of the units would be reserved for veterans; the others for those looking for supportive and workforce housing.

It’s still early in the process with no location set. DePaul still needs to apply for funding to develop the project.

Oswego’s mayor speaks highly of the building partners.

“With any large-scale project, it’s always a process. Very few times I’ll say does the developer or the plan work out the way you originally thought. DePaul was one of those projects, luckily,” said Barlow.

And what else did it do? It helped turn lives around for people living at Lock 7.