Champlain Commons construction nears completion
As the community action agency for Oswego County, Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) strives to empower people, support communities and change lives by addressing the most pressing challenges facing families and individuals in our communities.
The results of focus groups and survey feedback from hundreds of OCO stakeholders, including consumers, employees, funders, community partners and board members found that the need for affordable housing was one of the top responses. Based on those results OCO board of directors established a strategic plan to help alleviate that challenge and increase the accessibility of affordable housing.
“There is a critical need for affordable, safe housing is Oswego County,” said OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier. “As a homeless service provider, we see individuals and families who are working but are not making enough to pay the cost of high rent and utilities. Many working families in Oswego County are living paycheck to paycheck and are one crisis away from having to make difficult decisions - pay the rent, buy food, repair the car, etc. We wanted a housing complex that will afford tenants affordable rent in energy efficient apartments - helping them to better make ends meet and hopefully save for the future.”
OCO’s plan began to take shape when Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, an affordable housing developer, contacted NYS Housing and Community Renewal (HCR) in search of areas where opportunities for affordable housing were most needed. When directed to Oswego County they began researching area non-profits. They soon found that OCO had the right mix of programs and capacity to be a viable partner for an affordable housing project.
“When Rochester’s Cornerstone Group contacted us about partnering with them we researched them as well,” said OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier. “We contacted several of their non-profit partners in the Rochester area, several of which OCO knew due to similar services both OCO and the Rochester based non-profits provided. What we heard was that this company was a competent, professional quality developer that was an excellent partner to non-profits.”
With the developer in place it was time to move forward and obtain the necessary funding to make the vision a reality. “It took three years to obtain the funding,” said Cooper-Currier. “A number of grants were written that resulted in awards from NYS Homes & Community Renewal, NYS Supportive Housing Opportunity Program, NYS Homeless Housing Corporation and NYSERDA.” Everything was now in place and the work on an affordable housing complex named Champlain Commons was ready to begin.
OCO and Rochester’s Cornerstone Group broke ground on Champlain Commons last fall. With construction now in its final stages OCO has begun accepting applications.
Located on City Line Road in Oswego, Champlain Commons adds 56 new units where families and individuals with moderate or low incomes who are making up to 60% of the area median income can live affordably. The income levels, based on NYS guidelines, range from $31,140 for a one person household to $51,600 for a six person household.
In keeping with its goal of affordable housing OCO set aside 17 of these units for housing challenged individuals. OCO will provide supportive services for these special needs residents.
“There is a critical need to provide individuals and families with permanent supportive housing who have a history of losing their housing for various reasons. Permanent supportive housing at Champlain Commons will assist people with rent as needed as well as helping them obtain and maintain employment, obtain health care and other types of supports they need to be successful and maintain their housing,” said Cooper-Currier.
Champlain Commons offers one, two and three bedroom units. A community building includes a small kitchen, a spacious room for gatherings, a computer room for resident use, and a small playground for children. There will also be special presentations and a variety of activities offered for residents.
As the non-profit partner in the project OCO is responsible for assuring Champlain Commons and its legal owner (Champlain Commons LLC, which OCO is a managing member of) adheres to all the NYS rules, regulations and requirements that pertain to the property. OCO also has oversight of the property manager, which is Cornerstone Property Management, a subsidiary of Rochester's Cornerstone Group.
OCO’s partnership with Rochester’s Cornerstone Group has made the agency’s vision of affordable housing a reality that will have a profoundly positive impact on lives of so many in our community. For more information on Champlain Commons, or the application process, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-207-2097.
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966. A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 100 separate locations. For more information, visit www.oco.org. Did you know? It’s OCO!
OCO leaders Beth Thompson, director of Behavioral Health Services, and Patrick Waite, deputy executive director, stand at the entrance of one of the apartments at Champlain Commons in Scriba. When completed, the housing complex will have 56 apartments and a community center building.
Touring the Site
As the Champlain Commons housing complex nears completion, OCO leaders received a tour of one of the apartments conducted by project staff. Shown from left are: Jerry Seguin, project manager; Beth Thompson, director of OCO Behavioral Health Services; Patrick Waite, deputy executive director; and Chris Andrus, of general contractor Lecesse Construction.