$22 Million Affordable Housing Project Includes 20 Units For Survivors Of Domestic Violence And Their Families
Syracuse’s inventory of affordable housing has grown by 66 units following the renovation of 20 buildings on the city’s east and north sides. State and local officials gathered Monday to celebrate the completion of the $22 million Winston Gaskin Homes project. Housing Visions President and CEO Ben Lockwood says the extra work required on the century-old homes along East Genesee Street is worth it, versus building new.
"There's intrinsic value in neighborhoods and architecture that you just can't rebuild. This neighborhood really has some beautiful architecture, it's really a doorstep into the City of Syracuse, for SU, and downtown."
County Executive Ryan McMahon says it's more than a housing project.
"It's a jobs project first. It's a preservation project. It's a housing project that meets the needs of our most vulnerable in our community. It's a poverty project."
Applicants must earn 60 percent or less of the area’s median income to qualify. Jimmika McMillon has been a Housing Visions tenant for 16 years, and will be moving to one of the newly renovated units. She says the company has been a great landlord.
"It's more comfortable. You don't have to feel clutter, you don't have to feel like you have to fix everything. It makes you feel like your domain. You feel like, 'yeah, I woke up and I love the way this looks.'"
Twenty units have been set aside for homeless survivors of domestic violence and their families. The YWCA will provide support services. Executive Director Fanny Villareal says there aren’t many options outside of an emergency shelter.
"We have to provide temporary and permanent housing for domestic violence survivors. What happens is they are very vulnerable. In order to make sure they're successful in the long run, we have to provide these services."
Services range from substance abuse and domestic violence counseling to job search assistance. The project includes the preservation and upgrade of Housing Visions’ first five affordable developments three decades ago. The overall effort took about three years, and is part of the state’s 5-year, $2.5 billion housing plan launched in 2017.
WHO WAS WINSTON GASKIN?
Winston Gaskin was born in Kansas, and moved to Syracuse after serving in the Army and earning college degrees in pharmacy and chemistry. Ben Lockwood says he was the area's first African Amercian pharmacist, and was a co-founder of what is known today as Housing Visions. Lockwood says he was a powerful but quiet man who believed in what the organization was doing and pushed it to be what it is today. Gaskin died in 2009 at age 87.