March 01, 2019

New York State Announces Opening of $8.2 Million Housing Facility to Help Homeless Women in Syracuse

Ethel T. Chamberlain House offers Permanent Supportive Housing and Emergency Shelter

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and New York State Homes and Community Renewal today announced the completion of an $8.2 million project that transformed a badly deteriorated historic structure into permanent supportive housing and an emergency shelter for chronically homeless women struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. Supported with $6.1 million in state funding, Housing Visions’ Ethel T. Chamberlain House includes 16 units of permanent supportive housing and a 15-bed emergency shelter that will serve women in the Syracuse area.

The project was funded in part by a $3.8 million grant from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP). The HHAP award included $2.3 million from the New York State Department of Health’s Medicaid Redesign Team Capital Fund, which assists projects that provide permanent supportive housing to single homeless adults who exhibit conditions, or who have medical histories, associated with high Medicaid usage.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal also provided grants totaling more than $2.3 million for the project, including funding from the state HOME program, New York State Housing Plan Fund, and the Urban Initiative Program. In addition, the project received federal and state Historic Tax Credits.

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Michael Hein said, “Mental illness often poses a significant barrier that prevents homeless individuals from finding and maintaining stability in their lives. The Ethel T. Chamberlain House will offer chronically homeless women the help and support they need to improve their well-being and achieve their greatest level of independence.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The revival of this historic building will provide critical emergency and supportive housing to women in Syracuse. The Ethel T. Chamberlain House will not only help residents live healthy, productive and stable lives but will also contribute to growth of the Syracuse community by repurposing a vacant building. With this transformative investment, we are ensuring that Central NY continues to rise.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Ethel T. Chamberlain House is another great example of how Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits are helping revitalize troubled buildings in Upstate New York. Investing in historic structures helps lift local economies, create affordable housing, encourage sustainable neighborhoods and preserve the heritage of our communities.”

The Ethel T. Chamberlain House is part of Governor Cuomo’s $20 billion Homelessness and Affordable Housing Plan, which is combating homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing. The plan is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multi-family, and single-family housing, community development and rent stabilization.

Built during the 1920s, the four-story 26,000-square-foot Sagamore Apartment house on West Onondaga Street was vacant more than a decade and had badly deteriorated. Housing Visions, a Syracuse-based not-for-profit company, purchased the stately brick structure from the Greater Syracuse Land Bank and began renovations in 2017, transforming the first floor of into the emergency shelter and an accompanying dining hall. The upper three floors of the building were reconfigured into one-bedroom apartments.

The Salvation Army is providing case management services, life skills training and benefit advocacy for the permanent housing residents, in addition to an onsite manager. The development is named after Ethel T. Chamberlain, who served as national president of the Salvation Army’s women's organization during the 1970s. The renovated building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Housing Visions has developed more than 1,500 units in 367 buildings that serve populations in need, including the homeless, individuals with mental illnesses or addiction, domestic violence survivors, and veterans. The organization has leveraged more than $400 million in public and private investment to undertake these projects over the past 28 years.

Senator Rachel May said, “It is imperative that women in our community have a safe space to go when they are facing the challenges of mental health and substance abuse issues. I am thankful that Governor Cuomo recognizes this need and is providing the City of Syracuse with funding to bring this project to fruition. This new facility will be able to serve hundreds of women in Central New York facing chronic homelessness and provide a platform from which they can seek treatment and build a better future for themselves.”

Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter said, “Offering permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter for chronically homeless women will break the destructive cycles that many with mental health or substance abuse problems face. The funding provided by OTDA and others will ultimately save Medicaid dollars and yield more positive results. I am happy to see the completion of this project and look forward to the impact it will have on Syracuse.”

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “The Ethel T. Chamberlain House helps fill a critical need for supportive housing for women in vulnerable circumstances in our community. With the state’s help, we’ve been able to transform a nearly century-old, formerly vacant apartment building into a place where women struggling with addiction and mental health issues can get the comprehensive help they need to break the cycle of homelessness.”

Housing Visions President & CEO Ben Lockwood said, “Housing Visions is excited to partner with the Salvation Army and continually strengthen our mutual commitment to the City of Syracuse with the opening of the Ethel T. Chamberlain House. The adaptive reuse of this historic structure with supportive and permanent housing, will help ensure sustainable living for a vulnerable population and continue the revitalization underway along West Onondaga Street.”

The Salvation Army, Syracuse Area Services, Executive Director for Community Services Linda Lopez said, “For many years, we have known that the women served in our emergency shelter needed long-term support to overcome the impact of homelessness and mental health challenges. Safe affordable housing, with support services readily accessible on-site, will provide the help these women need to thrive. This combined shelter and permanent residence could not have become a reality without strong support from State and local funders, and the housing development expertise of Housing Visions.”

Accelerating CNY Rising

Today's announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in. Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs.

Back to Top