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Habitat & WAIT House to debut joint project: 10 affordable apts. on Lawrence St.

From left, Wait House director Jason McLaughlin, Habitat for Humanity director Adam Feldman, and real estate broker Lisa Grassi, whose $8,800 donation was “key,” Mr. Feldman said. They’re standing in front of one of the two renovated buildings on Lawrence Street. Chronicle photo / Cathy DeDe.

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties is partnering with the WAIT House in a Glens Falls project on Lawrence Street that will provide 10 affordable rental units catering in part to the youths that are WAIT House’s mission.

A ribbon cutting and community tours of unoccupied units are planned on Thursday, April 6, at 4 p.m. The buildings are across the street from each other, at 37-40 Lawrence Street, with room to add more apartments, local Habitat director Adam Feldman tells The Chronicle.

He says he met Jason McLaughlin, new director of the WAIT House, through a consortium of eight to 10 regional organizations that focus on housing issues.

“There is a desperate need for affordable rental units,” Mr. Feldman said he learned. He says he told the WAIT House chief, “I’m going to build this.”

“I can’t say enough good about Adam and Habitat,” Mr. McLaughlin tells The Chronicle. “This is a perfect fit for us and them.”

As with Habitat’s planned multi-condo project in Queensbury, this new effort is a step beyond Habitat’s traditional model of building one home for one family.

It’s also a step beyond the traditional objective of the locally created WAIT House, which is celebrating its 20th year of providing emergency and transitional housing for runaway, homeless and parenting young people in two adjoining houses in downtown Glens Falls.

“We have our housing program,” Mr. McLaughlin says, “for various age groups, not just teens. It’s called ‘rapid rehousing,’ to provide first month’s rent to get them started in transitional housing.

“Our focus is youth, but when anybody calls we want to connect them to services as quickly as possible.”

That program is in partnership with a STEP grant — “Solutions to End Homelessness,” Mr. McLaughlin spells out.

“The Lawrence Street location is perfect,” he says. “It’s a brand new rental apartment right on the bus line. It’s an opportunity for them to gain confidence, build up finances and save for their own home.” Rather than the fully supported housing at WAIT House, with case managers and programming on site, Mr. McLaughlin says. “This is a way to build independence, and to live self-directed lives.”

“We’ll have case managers as they need. We can still help navigate systems and treatment,” Mr. McLaughlin adds.

“The ultimate goal is to provide a pathway from housing instability to home ownership,” Mr. Feldman says.

“The idea is to have a whole spectrum of affordable housing opportunities, from emergency shelter to transitional supported housing, to affordable housing and eventually, affordable home ownership.”

“This is about adding to our repertoire,” Mr. Feldman says. “Stable housing, stable work, stable life.”

Four of the 10 apartments are already completed and rented, Mr. Feldman said. The other six they hope to have done by mid-April or the first of May, he said.

The City of Glens Falls kick-started the $1.1 million project with a $200,000 grant through its $12.4 million ARPA grant from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. “That opened the door for us to borrow about $800,000 for the project,” Mr. Feldman said.

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Chronicle Managing Editor
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