By Lisa Balschunat
The Warren-Washington County Association for Mental Health (WWAHM) will open a 29-unit apartment complex at 47-50 Cooper Street in Glens Falls in the spring. It will provide permanent supportive apartments to homeless people in the community.
Mercer Construction Co. of Ballston Lake, is constructing the building on the former site of Mullen Iron Works, adjacent to a portion of the Warren County Bikeway.
Despite some challenging road blocks over the past three years—including unexpected litigation expenses totaling $60,000 as a result of a lawsuit attempting to cease or delay construction of the apartment project—Chief Executive Officer Andrea Deepe said she anticipates opening in four months.
“Thankfully, our project was deemed essential by New York state at the beginning of the pandemic, so our contractor and the subcontractors were able to continue building throughout these difficult times,” she said, “Our organization began the process three years ago to design a building that would offer not only apartments, but also common areas for socialization and education programs.”
WWAMH follows the motto of helping someone secure housing, then helping with other aspects in life.
“When someone has a place to call home, they can take that worry off their plate and begin concentrating on what’s next—getting treatment, going back to school, finding a job—whatever is next on their path,” she said.
The $9 million construction program was partially funded by a $6.2 million grant from the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP), and will be funded annually with $3.8 million grant from the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative to fund operations.
“We had to scale back some programs due to the unexpected litigious costs, but we have not cut any services,” Deepe said. “We will continue to move forward and find other mechanisms to manage our financial challenges.”
The first residents of the Cooper Street apartments should be moving in March and April 2021. The building will be fully occupied and there is already a two-year waiting list.
WWAMH often picks up where county Social Services leaves off.
“We strive to provide a continuum of mental health care and that has uniquely positioned us to address the affordable housing needs in our community,” she said. “We are very excited to open the Cooper Street Apartments.”
WWAHM is a nonprofit organization formed in 1948.
“We started as a grassroots movement to get psychiatrists and therapists to settle in this area. All of the mental health professionals at the time were located in Albany and New York City,” said Deepe.
In Warren and Washington counties over 300 people are reported to be homeless, she said.