North Country Assemblyman Walczyk, HCR working to ensure Potsdam fire victims getting needed assistance
Saturday, February 9, 2019 - 8:49 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

North Country Now

POTSDAM -- North Country Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, and state officials at New York State Homes and Community renewal say they are working to ensure victims of the Lawrence Avenue fire are being prioritized in the search for local subsidized housing.

The blaze displaced 18 families who have been temporarily living in hotels in Potsdam, Massena and Canton, which are being paid for by insurance held by Chason Affinity, the company that owns Lawrence Avenue Apartments.

However, some of those who are displaced fear that they may not be able to find subsidized housing in Potsdam. If such housing is not found some children would likely be uprooted from their school districts and former residents may have to travel much further to and from work.

After learning of the problem, Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, reached out to several agencies including St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services, Temporary Disability Assistance, Homes and Community Renewal to ensure all relevant services were being provided without hang-ups.

Walczyk said he also reached out the property manager at Chason Affinity to extend any help the state might be able to provide to ensure the displaced families find new homes in a reasonable time period.

“When a tragedy strikes and displaces a family from their home, it’s so incredibly important to ensure these individuals have the ability to access the resources they need to get back on their feet,” said Walczyk. “In an effort to assist the families impacted by the recent fire in Potsdam, my office has reached out to the state’s offices of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Homes and Community Renewal and Children and Family Services, to check on any possible programs these agencies may administer that could provide assistance to these families that are in need.”

North Country This Week also reached out the HCR to determine if other subsidized housing was available in Potsdam. The following statement was received in response:

“New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas has reached out directly to the regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make sure that the New Yorkers in Potsdam displaced by this fire are being prioritized by the Federal agency, according a statement provided by Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Policy Freeman Kloplott.

“At the same time, HCR is coordinating with HUD to determine opportunities for local, subsidized developments that these tenants will be eligible for, and have vacancies. We look forward to these members of the New York family getting back on their feet as soon as possible,” the statement concluded.