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Stefanik touts federal funds to alleviate homelessness

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding more than $2 million to various homelessness alleviation projects in the North Country.

These projects include housing for homeless veterans, domestic violence crisis services and community housing centers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, Saratoga and Warren counties, and includes funds for the Franklin County Community Housing Council.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik said local organizations are the best solution to homelessness. In her northern New York district, low winter temperatures and a remote, rural environment make these challenges difficult and unique.

“In the winter months, this is life or death for people in the North Country,” Stefanik said.

“Homelessness is a real concern in the North Country, even though it may not be as visible as it is in urban areas,” Maureen Cean, the executive director of Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, based in Watertown, said in a press release.

The Franklin-Essex Housing Coalition point-in-time survey for 2019 shows a total of 240 homeless individuals, with 177 in emergency shelters, 56 in transitional housing and seven unsheltered.

None of these people fell under the chronically homeless, homeless family, homeless veteran or HIV/AIDS categories. The 240 people were all homeless because of serious mental illness, substance use disorder or domestic violence.

“(We need to make sure) we have support in our schools for students that are under-served, that we have support for victims of domestic violence,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik said the $2,473,080 will be helpful but that the North Country needs more affordable housing. She said when young workers are “priced out of the market,” it hurts employers, too.

She gave Lake Placid as an example of a place where housing prices have increased.