YWCA site in NT eyed for homeless housing

YWCA site in NT eyed for homeless housing

Jun 7, 2016, 8:00am EDT
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A year after merging to become the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, the former headquarters for the YWCA of the Tonawandas is being eyed as permanent housing for single, homeless women.

The nonprofit social service agency expects to file plans soon with the City of North Tonawanda to convert a gymnasium at 49 Tremont into 12 studio apartments, supplemented by support services within the building and a ground-floor cafe.

The facility would be the third residential facility for the YWCA, joining facilities in Niagara Falls and Lockport and rounding out services across the county.

It also brings some finality to last year’s merger that joined together the county’s two YWCA chapters.

The facility is proposed to be an adaptive reuse in what is essentially two former homes joined together with a gymnasium out back. Renderings are still being finalized, after which the plan will be submitted to the city and to a variety of state agencies that would provide funding assistance. The YWCA is working with Lumber City Development Corp. to ensure a fit with the city’s master plan.

The final project cost has not yet been determined, said Kathleen Granchelli, CEO.

“We’re having conversations with the city now as we speak, and hope to file plans soon,” she said. “We have applied for one of the countywide Yahoo grants for pre-development costs and that’s being evaluated. We need to get a handle on this, this summer.”

The other potential funding source could be a new homelessness grant program launched by the state for operating funds. That’s unique as most funding is tied to bricks and mortar.

“That’s rare and wonderful,” Granchelli said. ““In this part of the state it’s rare to have an opportunity for funding for operating costs.”

The YWCA also operates Carolyn’s House in Niagara Falls, a 19-unit shelter for women and children; and offers similar permanent housing in Lockport down the street from the agency’s Cottage Street headquarters. Both of those sites also have coffee shops or cafes on site. The North Tonawanda site is across from the Riveria Theatre and Performing Arts Center, offering opportunities for partnership, Granchelli said.

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