Watertown community tours new homeless facility on Pine Street

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WATERTOWN — An open house for a new homeless facility at 518 Pine St. allowed for elected officials and members of the public to walk through the newly renovated space.

Maureen P. Cean, executive director of Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, said they are extremely happy to be able to provide this service to north country men.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide a basic human right for homeless males in Jefferson County and the city of Watertown by giving them a safe and secure place to lay their head at night,” she said.

The building itself is ready to house people, Ms. Cean said, but there aren’t enough staff to house people quite yet.

She said there are approximately two more positions to fill in order for people to begin to move in.

Ms. Cean said sex offenders, those convicted of arson and other violent crimes and people who have a history of making methamphetamine will not be allowed to live at the facility.

Only men will be allowed to live there, Ms. Cean said, because she says they are overpopulated in the homeless population.

“We’re starting with males, if we need to re-look at the model further down the line, we’re happy to,” she said.

Ms. Cean said that she has heard some concern from residents about the safety of having the facility in a residential neighborhood. She said she was able to calm their nerves by clarifying who won’t be allowed to live there as well as assuring them that there will be 24/7 security and video recording at the facility.

The building renovations cost $750,000.

The facility initially will house 18 homeless men.

Ms. Cean said that they anticipate people staying at the facility for six to nine months.

“We’re hoping that because we’re staffed 24/7 instead of just being staffed during regular business hours, that we’ll actually be able to provide more assistance to the folks that choose to live here to find permanent housing a little bit more quickly,” she said.

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