Residents voice concerns over proposed homeless housing in Lowville

Lewis County homeless housing discussion
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:02 AM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - It was an at-times heated discussion in Lowville Thursday night, with community members voicing concerns about affordable housing for homeless people that is proposed in the village.

Snow Belt Housing hosted the forum along with other community groups.

Snow Belt has plans to build 20 housing units on Stowe Street. Snow Belt says construction costs would be capped at $9 million.

Dozens of residents attended the meeting. Stowe Street is one of three locations for the project, but officials and others say it’s the best choice because of access to services.

Three main issues were raised by the public: the cost, the proposed location, and integrating the residents into the village community.

Snow Belt representatives were at the meeting to answer those questions.

“Is our local taxes going to go up? Is the local government going to contribute to this project? The great answer for that, is that is all state funded for the full operating cost, and the build of the project,” Snow Belt Housing executive director Jaylin Hearns said.

“Twenty-four-hour security, 24-hour service access prevents some of the concerns that they’re having regarding temporary shelters, when people are not at a staffed facility,” Hearns said. “They’re at scattered sites, and people get disconnected from their families and their social supports.”

The project is still in the early phases as Snow Belt tries to secure that state funding.

The 20 housing units would include 16 for permanent use and four for transitional use.

Each unit will be about 650 square feet and must include one bedroom.

Twenty-five percent of the units will be for people diagnosed with mental illnesses, 25% for people with substance abuse history, and the remaining 50% for people under 25 years old.

Tenants will have to contribute 30% of their income. The maximum rent will be $658 or fair market rent.

Residents must have established residency in Lewis County or have significant ties to the area through work, family, or other means.