Watertown property chosen as site for permanent housing for homeless

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:37 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown will have permanent housing for the homeless and the location has been chosen. It’s a 60-apartment project combining the minds from Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, Neighbors of Watertown, and the Credo Community Center.

It may not erase the issue, but it could put a major dent in Watertown’s homeless problem.

“Over the past couple of years, particularly this last fall, the homeless issue has become very apparent in the community,” said Maureen Cean, executive director, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York.

The property on Main Avenue is directly across from the temporary shelter seen last year. Appraised for $575,000, owner P.J. Simao is selling the land for $350,000.

“There’s access to services, retail services at the top of the hill. There’s access to health care services as you move closer to Public Square. Transportation shouldn’t be a barrier to the folks that live there,” said Cean.

Thirty of the spaces will be free and exclusively designated for the homeless. The other half will be affordable housing for folks struggling with low incomes.

“It’s all permanent housing. No one has to leave unless they want to,” said Cean.

It’s partially made possible through a grant from the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. The facility will receive $475,000 a year to cover staffing and operating costs. Some services provided?

“Helping people connect with whether they need health care, substance use treatment, treatment for serious mental illnesses,” said Cean.

Although operating costs are taken care of, Neighbors of Watertown is currently working to secure a capital grant to help with construction. In total, they’re aiming for about $12 million.

“I am confident. We have developed a good team to go after the funding. The primary source would be low-income housing tax credits,” said Reg Schweitzer, executive director, Neighbors of Watertown.

Tentatively, construction is expected to start sometime next spring. That could change depending on when a grant is secured.