Syracuse, N.Y. — Catholic Charities will host a series of community meetings to hear concerns about the proposed location of a new facility for homeless men on the city’s west side.

Catholic Charities plans to move a 100-bed homeless shelter from 1074 S. Clinton St. to 501 W. Genesee St. in order to make way for JMA Wireless’s new 5G facility.

The proposed location prompted immediate backlash from residents in the Park Avenue neighborhood, who don’t want a homeless shelter in their back yard.

Catholic Charities will host three in-person meetings and one virtual meeting in the neighborhood in the coming weeks to hear from neighbors and business owners.

The in-person meetings will be at Missio Church at 620 W. Genesee St. They will be limited to 30 attendees due to Covid-19 restrictions. The dates are:

  • Monday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24, noon

The virtual meeting is Thursday, Oct. 22 at noon. Anyone interested can register for the meetings via the Catholic Charities website.

A press release from Catholic Charities said the meetings would be used to consider adjustments to design and services.

“We are working closely with the city and the county to secure a location that can offer an array of services to address the needs of this population in a positive and successful way,” Executive Director Mike Melara said. “We recognize the community’s concerns and pledge to work hard to address these concerns and be a good neighbor. At the same time, we all need to recognize that these individuals are our neighbors, too.”

The non-for-profit worked with the city and county to find a location for the new facility after JMA expressed interest in the current site as part of its new Syracuse campus.

The spot on West Genesee Street was chosen after reviewing a list of 15 sites.

Melara has said the new facility will be more comprehensive than the existing shelter on South Clinton Street. It will have 100 beds for homeless men, as well as mental health services and a health clinic. It will also be home to office space for about 50 workers.

Common Councilor Pat Hogan, who represents the west side, has vowed to fight the proposed location.

Neighbors, too, are organizing to oppose the new facility. They produced a video criticizing the location and calling on Mayor Ben Walsh to reconsider. They have started an online petition and printed lawn signs.

Walsh penned an op-ed last week defending his role in the new location. He did not choose the location, he said. And he said the JMA project will be “transformational” for the South Side and the city.


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