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Affordable Housing Apartments In Syracuse Aim To Support Those Experiencing Homelessness, Mental Health Issues

star park apartments front.jpg
Scott Willis
The front of Star Park apartments on State Fair Boulevard, not far from W. Genesee St.

A new $17 million housing development on Syracuse’s west end includes units reserved for formerly homeless adults who can receive onsite supportive services. Officials cut the ribbon today on Star Park Apartments. It’s the latest in the state’s five-year, $20 billion effort to provide safe, quality affordable housing, especially for those with mental health issues. John Warren is Vice President of Construction and Development with Helio Health.

"There are available staff to assist people in accessing opportunities for education, jobs, working out budgets, hooking up with physical health providers. People in accessing people can choose to use that case management; they're not required to," Warren said.

The project was funded by New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Upstate Development Director Lenny Skrill says supportive housing has evolved over the 35 years he's been working in the field.

"The best way to prove appropriate services in an environment for people with mental health issues to thrive is an integrated housing environment. Instead of a group home, you're among some with mental health issues, but also with other members of society as a whole."

Star Park is the second housing project in Syracuse for CSD Housing working with Helio Health. Program Development Director Mike Newman says they try to make it like any other apartment building.

"This is permanent housing. Everyone who lives here can live independently. Very often I try to tell people what it's not: It's not a nursing home. It's not assisted living. If you walk inside and walk around, it's no different than any other apartment building except you will find case management office adjacent to building management."

But it's not always easy reaching those who might benefit from the available housing, let alone convincing them to leave a life of living in temporary shelters or on the streets. Warren with Helio Health says they work with the county and others who might assist with referrals.

"We collaborate with all of the brother and sister organizations in the community that, in some instances, may have better engagement with a particular person than we would ever have. There are case managers who do go out to those folks under the underpasses. That's how we spread the word."

Thirty of the 50 units are reserved for those who've experienced homelessness or mental health issues.

star park apartments rear.jpg
Scott Willis
The rear of the building.