State Awards STEL $790,000 Toward Supportive Housing

A local agency devoted to helping individuals with psychiatric disabilities will soon see an increase in funding for housing units.

New York state recently awarded Southern Tier Environments for Living two awards totaling $790,000 to develop 35 supportive housing units in Chautauqua County through the Dunkirk Renovation and Ownership program and the proposed Gateway Lofts project.

The awards are part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, which is a five-year plan to develop 6,000 units of supportive housing across the state. The program totals $2.6 billion in funding.

The Dunkirk Renovation and Ownership Program is a multi-family, affordable housing program that will be located in various sites in Dunkirk. There will be construction of 11 new buildings and 14 existing structures will be rehabilitated, either one-or-two family homes. There will be 49 units of affordable rental housing for low income individuals and families, and out of those units, the award from the state provides $165,000 for 10 units for homeless individuals with serious mental illness.

In Jamestown, STEL was awarded funding for the proposed Gateway Lofts project which remains in the planning phase. The project includes a multi-family housing project that will include 74 housing units, and thanks to the award from the state of $625,000, 25 units will be used for individuals who are homeless and have a serious mental illness or have substance use disorder with a criminal history of offending or are at risk of offending.

This project would be a collaboration between STEL, Community Helping Hands, Inc. and Chautauqua County’s Department of Mental Hygiene and Department of Corrections.

“By receiving this funding, it will allow the 10 Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative units in our Dunkirk project to be affordable for households with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income,” said Executive Director of STEL Thomas Whitney. “We anticipate closing on the construction loan for this project by the end of the year.”

Whitney said the 25 units in the proposed Jamestown project would be affordable for households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income. With the funding, it would create affordable units for households at or below 30 percent, he said.

“These ESSHI units are intended to be an alternative to incarceration,” Whitney said. “We have not secured all of our capital funds for this project, but New York state Sen. Cathy Young has been an important asset in helping us achieve funding for this project.”

County Executive Vince Horrigan said increasing the number of supportive housing units in the county has been a key priority for him.

“These awards will help provide support services to individuals who are facing homelessness and struggling with mental illness or drug addiction,” Horrigan said. “It will also help keep rent affordable for them as they get the services they need.”

In the units, services provided would include care management services, employment services, linkages with community providers, supportive counseling and assistance in daily living skills development.

“This award is the result of a strong collaboration and advocacy between the participating community partners,” said Patricia Brinkman, Chautauqua County Community Mental Hygiene Services Director. “Access to safe and affordable housing is essential for anyone in the recovery process. The creation of a supportive housing community will enhance the potential for residents to be successful in their recovery.

The governor recently announced 169 awards, including the two for STEL. The awards total about $30 million all together.

“These awards will further strengthen our efforts to fight homelessness and give vulnerable New Yorkers in every corner of this state access to safe, affordable housing with the supportive services they need,” Cuomo said. “With the second round of awards, we help to ensure that all New Yorkers have stable housing and an opportunity to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

The funding covers agencies in 47 counties across the state and will provide support and funding for at least 1,200 units of supportive housing for homeless persons with special needs, conditions or other challenges.

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