CSO to take over homeless shelter in Greenfield starting April 1


Staff Writer

Published: 03-26-2023 1:11 PM

GREENFIELD — At the end of the week, the community behavioral health agency Clinical & Support Options (CSO) will take over as the provider of emergency shelter services to homeless adults at the Wells Street shelter.

“We’re looking to transition from ServiceNet in a way that respects the expectations of guests,” said CSO Associate Vice President of Marketing and Development Geoffrey Oldmixon, referencing the current provider. “After all, they’ve been living at that location and have a certain way of doing things. Then, hopefully, we’ll provide support and additional help, ushering in another layer of services.”

The nonprofit — which provides social services across Hampshire and Franklin counties as well as in the North Quabbin and greater Gardner areas — was tapped by the state Department of Housing and Community Development to provide emergency shelter services to homeless adults starting April 1.

“Some of the [current] staff is coming along, so that’s going to be helpful, too,” Oldmixon said, adding that the nonprofit also hopes to fill some new “directly interfacing” and management positions.

With the transition comes plans 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.

Ultimately, 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.

“The [construction] schedule depends on a number of things, including the state making the award for the funds,” Bill Miller, CSO’s vice president of housing and shelter, wrote in an email. “We are hopeful to hear something soon.”

Miller previously 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.

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The Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. (CEDAC) announced in November 2022 that CSO would 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., the last of which will be demolished for “greater access and more space,” according to Miller.

Additionally, the Community Preservation Committee voted last week to recommend to City Council CSO’s request for $100,000 in Community Preservation Act funding for the project. City Council is expected to consider the request this spring.

“We try to balance our needs with what you guys have,” CSO Real Estate Project Manager/Housing Development Director Alyssa Larose told Community Preservation Committee members. “We recognize you don’t have a huge pot.”

Larose added that the agency is also hoping for up to $200,000 from a Community Development Block Grant application the city submitted earlier this month. State funding announcements are expected in April, she said.

Miller said once renovations are underway — previously, the nonprofit hoped to break ground this summer — there will be some disruption to folks in the shelter.

“We are working that through as part of the overall process,” he said. “It is our commitment to continue to provide services throughout, though we will give more specific [information] when we are ready.”

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.

“In the meantime, we are looking forward to getting to know people in the shelter and in need of shelter as we assume operations in April,” Miller said. “We want to make this initial transition as seamless as possible.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.