North Country program aims to help homeless addicts

Published: Jul. 9, 2018 at 5:17 PM EDT
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Jobless, homeless, addicted: a new program is in motion in the North Country to help people face those challenges. Kelly O'Brien reports on how the program aims to help your neighbors move forward.

"If you think of the number of people sleeping on somebody's couch, a friend's couch or living with their parents or doing things like that-- those people effectively fit the niche of homelessness," said Michael Carpenter of the MHAB Project.

Excitement filled the air upon the announcement of the new way to battle homelessness in Clinton County-- the MHAB project.

"We wanted it to be the continuation of rehab, once you've gone through rehab maybe you can go through MHAB," Carpenter said.

In just a few months of planning, community, county and state leaders rallied together to create a safe place for people and families to get clean and better their lives after treatment.

"How do we expect things to change when we know they are going back into that same environment?" Clinton County Sheriff David Favor said.

"The issue we're having with housing and helping people with behavioral health issues, in recovery get on track-- this is the issue of the day," said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay.

With decreased need for dorms at Clinton Community College, the cost of upkeep left the school in a financial rut. The MHAB Project stepped in and plans to purchase three unused dormitories and a dining hall. The deal is currently in the appraisal stages but they hope to clinch the sale by the end of the year.

"You know, when you think about the words community college, sometimes we often forget it really means community. This is a true partnership that the community partners to make our community better," said Ray DiPasquale of Clinton Community College.

They will have three buildings which should be able to provide for about 225 people. Carpenter stressed this will not be permanent housing but rather temporary housing until they find the next step.

"There will be specific criteria that everybody who lives here-- whether it's veterans, children, addicts in recovery, mental health-- have to meet a level of criteria and be seeking services for the betterment of their life to live here," Carpenter said.

Behavioral Health Services North, Champlain Valley Family Services and many more local agencies will rent space from MHAB for their clients.

There will be a meeting open to the public Wednesday night. They will answer questions regarding the project and will offer a tour of the dorms. It starts July 11 at 5:30 p.m. on Dormitory Drive in Plattsburgh. Tours of the dining hall and dorms will be at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.