Officials cut ribbon on Scriba housing complex

Local and state officials cut the ribbon to Scriba's Champlain Commons at Monday's ceremony. 

SCRIBA — State and local housing authorities gathered Monday in Scriba to cheer the completion of Champlain Commons, a 56-unit supportive housing complex providing stability to Oswego County families facing homelessness.

“The apartments here are beautiful — I love it here,” resident N’Dea Hardy, who recently moved into Champlain Commons after months in a local rescue mission with her son, told state and local officials at Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony. “You guys are great people. I’m just so thankful to you guys for providing a home for me and my family.”

The close of the 13-month construction project marks what officials say they hope will be an ongoing relationship between Oswego County Opportunities (OCO), architects at Rochester’s Cornerstone Group and state housing agencies, the Homeless Housing and assistance Corporation (HHAC) and the Bureau of Housing and Supportive Services. The $13.7 million project is just one portion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $20 billion, five-year supportive housing plan, implemented statewide.

“Increasing access to affordable housing is one of our top priorities, and this critical investment in the town of Scriba is building on that goal,” Cuomo said in Monday’s official statement on the completed supportive housing project. “The completion of Champlain Commons will not only provide more New Yorkers with a safe, affordable place to call home. It will also help build stronger and better neighborhoods for Oswego County residents for generations to come.”

In October of 2018, OCO broke new ground on City Line Road for the construction of a 56-unit supportive housing complex, an ambitious next step for the human services agency after its completion of the Backstreet Apartments, a handful of supportive apartment units on the corner of Oneida and North Second streets in Fulton.

“It was a wonderful thing for Oswego County to have such beautiful facilities for people to live in because affordable, safe housing is sorely needed in this county and continues to be needed,” said OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier.

OCO began accepted tenants in May and started moving tenants in at the end of August, Cooper-Currier said. She said 17 of the 56 apartment units have been reserved for referral-only tenants with an annual incomes no more than 30 percent of the Oswego County median, making them eligible for OCO’s enhanced support services.

The 39 other units have gone to families and individuals making 60 percent of the local median annual income or less. An individual or family whose annual income is 50 percent or less than the county’s median is eligible to rent a one-bedroom unit for $544 per month or a two-bedroom unit for $640 per month. 

An individual or family whose annual income exceeds 50 percent of the local median but no more than 60 percent is eligible to rent a two-bedroom unit for $675 per month or a three-bedroom unit for $834 per month.

Income eligibility is based on standard wages, pension funds, alimony, Social Security, and retirement benefits. Water, sewer, and trash services are included in rent, but tenants are responsible to pay for gas and electric services, according to a news release from OCO.

The “power” of having safe and affordable housing is “undeniable,” said Leonard Skrill, director of Upstate Capital Projects of the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Office, because it allows families and individuals to focus on finding employment and breaking down other barriers that threaten housing instability and homelessness.

“With 56 affordable apartments, Champlain Commons will have families and people who have been homeless for most of their lives,” Skrill said. “Because these rents are structured to be affordable, residents now have the chance to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and to have to make difficult choices between paying for rent, paying for a prescription or buying their children new winter boots.”

After the exterior of some apartment buildings were vandalized with lurid and Nazi imagery in July, Cooper-Currier said construction workers replaced the side of the building.

“Because it was just on the siding, all that had to be replaced was the siding,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened.”

Cooper-Currier said Champlain Commons is staffed with social workers from early mornings to midnight seven days a week.

“We’re here and on site,” she said.

Carol Oster, vice president of development for Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, the architectural firm that partnered with OCO to complete the project, said lighting and personnel on site would help to keep the area clear of foul play.

“We have incredible lighting,” Oster said. “I think everything is good.” 

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