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Two affordable housing projects complete in Central New York: Will they help make housing more attainable though?

Two new affordable housing developments in Central New York should help alleviate the region’s affordability problem.

The Wheat Street Apartments in Cayuga and Village Grove in Trumansburg are promising lower prices in the face of rising rents.

According to a study in the Washington Post in April, rents in Cayuga and Tompkins counties had risen 3.3% and 12.3%, respectively, in the last three years.

The Wheat Street Apartments have a dual purpose – of the 47 units, nine are for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

James Breslin – chief operations officer with the E. John Gavras Center, which proposed the project – noted that this has become an increasing need since the pandemic began.

“I used to work in housing and homeless services for many years,” said Breslin, “but you wouldn’t see folks with developmental disabilities ending up in emergency shelters, or the behavioral unit at a hospital because they had nowhere to go. But that’s been happening more and more, since the pandemic.”

He said he expects a flood of application for those units, and the Gavras Center is planning more housing in neighboring counties, though it’ll be a while before it’s ready.

Groundbreaking for the Wheat Street apartments is scheduled for next March, with occupancy in Fall 2024.

While the Wheat Street Apartments have sped along with little resistance, that hasn’t been the case with the Village Grove complex.

Lynn Truame, director of real estate development with Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, said there was a mix of community support and opposition. She said she thinks some of the opposition is based on stigmas about affordable housing.

“A lot of people hear the word ‘affordable’ housing and they have certain negative stereotypes of people who have lower incomes, and I think that that’s some of it,” said Truame. “People always have a reaction of fear about things they don’t know and certainly, this project doesn’t exist yet, so it’s hard to explain to them that we feel confident that everyone who lives there will be a good neighbor.”

She added that the Village Grove construction will take place in phases over the next few years.

Categories: Cayuga CountyNews