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‘Groundbreaking’ Held For Champlain Commons

Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, second from left, and a host of partners take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for Champlain Commons.
Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, second from left, and a host of partners take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for Champlain Commons.
Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, second from left, and a host of partners take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for Champlain Commons.
Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, second from left, and a host of partners take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for Champlain Commons.

SCRIBA, NY – Nine months from today, people will start to move into Champlain Commons, Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, said today (October 17).

“OCO is thrilled to be a partner with Rochester’s Cornerstone Group and our state funding partners to bring new, safe, affordable and quality housing to Oswego County,” she told the large crowd on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking at the 164 City Line Road site just off State Route 104. “OCO serves approximately 20,000 people annually and so many of them identify safe, affordable housing as a significant need of theirs.”

“We are pleased that OCO’s vision for more safe, affordable housing is coming to fruition through this project,” Cooper-Currier told Oswego County Today. “For many years we’ve tried to get to this point; so we want to celebrate those individuals who have helped us along the way.”

The surrounding land is already being cleared and the building in which the crowd was gathered will soon be razed to make way fro the project.

OCO is the anti-poverty agency for the county.

They see, all too often, families that are “housing vulnerable,” the director said. A recent study found that 45 percent of low-income renters are paying more than 35 percent of their income toward housing, the standard is about 30 percent, she added.

That speaks to the need for projects such as Champlain Commons.

“We are this eternally optimistic organization who thought – if you put that dream out there in the universe, it will happen,” Cooper-Currier said. “And happen it did.”

About five and a half years ago, she was contacted by Roger Brandt, President of Rochester’s Cornerstone Group. He was looking for a non-profit to partner with to address the need for housing.

“And, five years later, here we are!” Cooper-Currier said.

“Cornerstone is very pleased to be working with Oswego County Opportunities to develop this much-needed workforce housing community for the residents of Oswego and Scriba. The efforts have taken more than five years to get to this point,” Brandt said. “OCO is a terrific community advocate which has far reaching impacts in the region. This housing and the support services shall improve the lives of many in our communities.”

OCO is co-developing the project with Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, “a leader in affordable housing development in New York that has created or preserved more than 1,700 homes.”

Champlain Commons will include 17 apartments with services and support through the State’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, a five-year plan to develop 6,000 units of housing with services that help vulnerable people live independently in their communities.

It will serve a broad base of income eligible residents, as the apartments will be available to households earning at or below 30, 50 and 60 percent of the area median income.

Seventeen apartments will be reserved for individuals who will receive onsite supportive services from OCO. The non-profit human services provider currently supports 20,000 people annually.

Champlain Commons will consist of seven two-story apartment buildings and a separate community building with a kitchen, meeting space, offices, computer room, laundry facilities and a fenced in playground, Cooper-Currier told the crowd.

“It is the people and partnerships that made this come to fruition,” she said. And then, gave her “Oscars speech” thanking the myriad people and groups that assisted the project over the years.

The county started its anti-poverty task force about four years ago.

One of its goals was to addrees the need for affordable housing, Oswego County Legislator Roy Reehil said.

“On behalf of the Oswego County Legislature, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this project for the many hours of hard work it took to bring this development to fruition. The Champlain Commons affordable housing development will help fill specific gaps in the housing market in our region; gaps that have been identified by our local poverty reduction task forces working hand in hand with Oswego County Opportunities and our County Department of Social Services,” he said.

In particular, the 17 units identified to receive direct supportive services will help some of the area’s most disadvantaged residents to transition from dependency to self-sufficiency, he said, adding that “we don’t want this to be a dependency program. We want this to be a transition program.”

“That type of housing and service will fill a dire need in our community and I applaud the leadership demonstrated by Oswego County Opportunities to take the steps necessary to get us to this groundbreaking today,” Reehil said. “Again, thank you all for making this possible and I look forward to visiting again upon the project’s completion.”

Assemblyman Will Barclay congratulated OCO and the Cornerstone Group on the groundbreaking.

“Because of their efforts, Oswego County will soon have new, quality housing which will include apartments for victims of domestic violence, those with special needs, and those facing addiction,” he said. “I was happy to assist in securing state support for this important project. Our community is in need of this kind of supportive housing project that can provide a better quality of life for residents here. I look forward seeing this built.”

Senator Patty Ritchie said (through spokesperson James Thomas), “The health of community is only as strong as the people who live in them. Providing people a quality, safe and affordable place to call home is central in our efforts to ensure that our people are given every chance to succeed, raise a family and have one less worry when it comes to paying the monthly bills. I look forward to seeing just how much of a positive impact these new homes will have on Scriba, Oswego County and New York State.”

The state’s commitment to strengthening communities and growing the Central New York economy is reflected in CNY Rising, a $500 million state investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative that builds on the more than $5.6 billion the state has injected in the region since 2012.

The state’s investment in Champlain Commons complements CNY Rising by increasing access to high-quality affordable housing that provides supportive services to help residents live independently in their community.

Champlain Commons will meet NYSERDA Low Rise New Construction Program and LEED Version 4 BD&C Homes Program energy and green building standards.

All buildings will have Energy Star rated central air conditioning, heating with sealed combustion chambers, lighting, fans and appliances.

Champlain Commons reflects the state’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing is reflected in the state’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan.

The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 of supportive housing.

The plan is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multifamily and single-family housing, community development, and rent stabilization.

Since 2011, HCR has invested $190 million in Central New York that has created affordable housing for about 7,700 residents.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal financing for the $13.5 million project includes federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $9.5 million in equity, and a $500,000 in subsidy from the Supportive Housing Opportunity Program.

The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program awarded $3.1 million to Oswego County Opportunities for Champlain Commons.

Funding to provide services and operations for 17 supportive housing units was supplied through the state’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative.

ESSHI will provide $25,000 per unit, for a total of $425,000 annually.

By meeting the Low Rise New Construction Program design requirements, the project will qualify for a $53,600 incentive award from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Also submitting comments about the project were:

Scriba Town Supervisor Robert Ramsey said in a prepared statement, “Champlain Commons will bring affordable and supportive housing options that our residents need. Thank you to New York State, Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, and Oswego County Opportunities for investing in this project that will increase quality of life in Scriba.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Expanding affordable housing opportunities and combining them with services to help ensure our most vulnerable neighbors have the support they need to stay in their new home, is essential to winning the fight against homelessness. For 56 households, Champlain Commons will be more than a roof over their heads, it will be a jumping off point to economic success and with this investment we are helping Central New York continue to rise.”

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “This project underscores Governor Cuomo’s commitment to increasing the availability of affordable and supportive housing to address the homeless crisis. The supportive units being created will provide not just a home, but the services needed to help individuals who have experienced homelessness to stabilize their lives.”

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative is providing homeless individuals and families with the stable housing and integrated services they need to help them with their life challenges and their journey to recovery from mental illness. Thanks to developments like Champlain Commons, more vulnerable New Yorkers are able to live their lives with independence and dignity.”

1 Comment

  1. With a SHRINKING population in Oswego County WHY are we adding yet more apartments? This will help INCREASE poverty n the County by landlords bringing in even more from outside the area to feed off our Social Services. With Oswego set to add about 250 more housing units we are in deep trouble.

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