CSO to lead $23M expansion of housing, homeless services in Greenfield

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-23-2022 6:22 PM

GREENFIELD — The homeless population in Franklin County can count on seeing greater resources available soon as the result of a multi-partner development effort led by community behavioral health agency Clinical & Support Options (CSO).

The nonprofit was recently tapped by the state Department of Housing and Community Development to provide emergency shelter services to homeless adults starting in April 2023 and administrators are planning for a dramatic $23 million transformation of the existing emergency shelter at 60 Wells St. The agency’s proposed design includes a renovation of the existing building, expanding shelter capacity from 30 to 40, and construction of a new three-story building that will hold 36 studio apartments.

CSO hopes to break ground in the summer.

“The folks that we’re working with in Greenfield are very excited about it,” said Bill Miller, CSO’s vice president of housing and shelter, who is based in Springfield. “From my own standpoint, knowing what the homeless situation has been like there, I’m really excited about it.”

Emergency shelter services at 60 Wells St. have been provided by ServiceNet, which did not seek to renew its state contracts in Greenfield and Northampton, allowing CSO to take over in April 2023. Efforts to reach ServiceNet Vice President of Community Relations Amy Timmins were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

CSO plans to install an integrated model of shelter and housing services, one that includes on-site nursing, on-site behavioral health clinicians and access to a host of individualized supports. Geoffrey Oldmixon, CSO’s vice president of marketing and development, said this model has achieved great success in Springfield, where CSO accommodates 1,000 homeless adults each year as part of CSO’s Friends of the Homeless program.

“This is a model that’s proving to deliver outcomes,” Oldmixon said.

MJ Adams, Greenfield’s community and economic development director, has worked with Housing Greenfield, a local housing advocacy organization, to ensure shelter for the homeless population as temperatures drop.

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“We’re in sort of a transition place that I think will be really positive,” Adams recently told the Greenfield Recorder. “It feels good to know we’ll be expanding on Wells Street and renovating the shelter and expanding the next level up for housing.”

Miller said the Greenfield project is expected to cost roughly $23 million, supported mostly with state money. He explained there are about 10 different funding sources — including the American Rescue Plan Act — that are funneled through the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Meanwhile, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. (CEDAC) announced on Nov. 4 that CSO will receive an acquisition loan of up to $1.59 million as well as a $400,000 pre-development loan for the purchase of 60 Wells St., 65 Conway St. and 46 Wells St. CEDAC is a public-private community development financial institution that provides project financing and technical expertise for community-based and other non-profit organizations engaged in community development projects in Massachusetts.

News of this project comes at a time when homelessness is at a five-year high, according to the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness. Market research conducted by CSO’s development team indicates few or no vacancies in Greenfield — and lengthy wait lists for apartments.

When reached earlier this month, Timmins said the Wells Street shelter, which has 30 beds, is at full capacity.

“We’ve been consistently full year-round,” she said at the time. “In the past, it used to go down in the summer with 20 beds, but we’ve been consistently at capacity. … There has not been as much turnover as in the past, because there’s so little housing in the area for people to rent.”

To bring the construction project to fruition, CSO is partnering with Rural Development Inc., the non-profit affordable housing development arm of the Turners Falls-based Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, as well as Valley Housing Consultants, Jones Whitsett Architects and Berkshire Design Group.

“We are so pleased to work with CSO to bring this much-needed housing to fruition,” commented Gina Govoni, executive director of Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority. “CSO’s approach to service and the level of support that they provide to those facing chronic homelessness is exceptional, and it is truly needed here in Greenfield.”

Visit CSOInc.org to learn more about CSO’s services.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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