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Common Council sets aside $800K to help Syracuse tenants navigate housing problems

The key is on the door.
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The City of Syracuse continues to find ways to use federal pandemic relief funds to help distressed residents with housing concerns.

The Common Councilor approved $800,000 for continued support and management of its community ambassador program for the next two years. It’s operated by the Center for Court Innovation, sometimes called the Syracuse Peacemaking Center. Project Coordinator Leah Russell said they’ve seen firsthand how housing concerns are exacerbating mental health issues.

"Our ambassadors as they're doing their day to day working and talking with constituents, they are often the values that releases pressure on that tension and people are letting out 45 minutes of all of their stress and their hardships before even getting to the code enforcement issue, " she said. "And so we're working with all sorts of community partners to bring in almost weekly trainers and guest speakers to talk with our ambassadors about the mental health services that are available in our community."

Councilor Pat Hogan said he’d appreciate occasional meetings with ambassadors, and Councilor Latoya Allen agreed.

"Even if it's like quarterly, just meeting with their particular ambassador, just to kind of really see what's going on, and we get a lot of phone calls. So if we have those personal connections and relationships, it'll be a lot easier for us to help our constituents so we can just reach out directly to them."

Many of the housing issues stem from landlord and tenant disputes and code violations. The ambassadors serve as a neutral third party, and can also connect residents to legal services and housing court diversion, as well as lead abatement programs.