PLATTSBURGH — After nearly 40 years downtown, Plattsburgh Housing Authority has new digs.
The Housing Authority offices recently opened at 4817 South Catherine St. in the South End of the city. Its home had been at 39 Oak St.
"We were so under-facilitated on Oak Street, we just had to do something," Housing Authority Executive Director Patricia Lucia said.
"We were not as accessible as we should have been, and this is so much better."
Plattsburgh Housing Authority is a federally sponsored program that provides affordable housing to those who are income-eligible.
The program's goal is to provide safe, adequate and affordable housing and to promote opportunities for residents to achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence.
It was established in Plattsburgh on April 9, 1951.
The new 4,600-square-foot building was constructed by the Housing Authority's own construction crew, called Force Account. Led by Glen Lamoy, a crew of four workers did most of the work in-house, saving on contractor costs.
"We bought all of the materials here in Plattsburgh and bought all the furnishings here," Lucia said.
"We wanted to keep the money local."
The cost for the building came in at just under $600,000. It was paid for by a $200,000 settlement from an asbestos-abatement program in 2004 and federal funds for modernization capital projects.
The building was constructed with the latest green innovations in mind and is accessible to those with disabilities.
On Oak Street, Lucia and her staff of nine struggled to find room to work. It was worse for tenants who had to come in to pay rent, fill out vouchers and apply for programs.
"Now, we have two private conference rooms for interviews, and we have private spaces for people to fill out financial forms," she said. "And we have an area for kids to play while they wait for their parents.
"It was hard to maintain confidentiality on Oak Street. We did our best, but it was hard."
There is also a large conference room for Housing Authority staff to use, as well as a break room and individual offices for most of the staff.
"I think productivity among the staff is much better now because, before, we were all working in one open space, and it could be hard to concentrate," said Lucia, the director since 1988.
The back part of the building is rented out to Cantwell Law Firm as a means of generating some revenue.
Lucia said being located in the south end of the city, near most of the Housing Authority units, is much better than downtown.
"This is where we belong. It was hard for many of our clients to make it downtown if they needed something because many of them do not have cars and could not afford cabs."
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