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City apartments fill housing needs

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Newly engaged couple Paul O’Dell and Shannon Crouch have moved into a one-bedroom apartment at the recently completed Riverview Apartments in Cortland. The ceremony was held Thursday to mark the completion of the 39-unit complex.

Before moving to their new apartment at 6-10 Riverview Ave., Shannon Crouch and Paul O’Dell did not feel safe in their former apartment on Port Watson Street. They could hear fighting and were bothered by traffic noises from the nearby intersection.

Now, nestled behind Riverside Plaza in their new one-bedroom apartment where rent is $500, including utilities, they feel they can relax and take comfort in a secure environment. Cameras watch hallways and the building that houses 39 units is secured; tenants use a key and visitors are buzzed in.

“It’s different for us, a good different,” Crouch said. “It’s better.”

She also noted the nearby stores, like P&C Fresh supermarket and Family Dollar, where she said she can buy basic provisions at an affordable price.

The apartment complex was opened to the public Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in which Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, Catholic Charities Director Marie Walsh and officials from Christopher Community lauded the project as an example of a partnership that benefits the community.

Catholic Charities and Christopher Community own the complex, which was built with the help of $3.4 million in low-income housing tax credits, a $3.5 million loan from the community preservation corporation, $476,288 from the New York Housing Plan Fund and annual financial support from the state Office of Mental Health.

The building has three two-bedroom units, two of which are wheelchair accessible, with the rest being one-bedroom units, said Tina Cardwell, Christopher Community’s director of family neighborhood residences.

Cardwell said Thursday that 15 of the units were occupied and the rest have tenants getting ready to move in. The complex will be full by the end of April.

An important component of the housing is that there are 20 supportive housing units where tenants are offered peer-support services coordinated by an on-site case manager, Walsh said.

The services can range from aiding people in their apartments to helping them get out and about to do shopping, Walsh said. “I think it’s a big thing to provide support services for the folks who live here,” she said.

Catholic Charities had already owned the property and used the buildings on site for storage when it started looking into the idea of developing housing. Then, because Mike Pisa of Catholic Charities is on the board of directors of Christopher Community, that organization got involved, Walsh said.

Christopher Community is also the housing development entity for the Syracuse Diocese and has already developed a number of similar projects in the Syracuse area, Marsh said.

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