Government leaders in Kingston and Ulster County fear the housing crisis could be compounded as a large property is for sale at Main Street and Washington Avenue.
More than 60 residents of the adult group home, Chiz’s Heart Street, have been told they need to prepare to move out, setting off a mad scramble by residents’ families and local officials to find them new homes.
One resident, John Strum, who also handles maintenance for the four connected houses, said his time at Chiz’s has given him a sense of purpose.
“It helps me a lot,” Strum said, while sweeping a hallway Monday morning. “It keeps me busy and it keeps me in a form of action.”
What You Need To Know
- Chiz’s Heart Street is for sale and could end up displacing more than 60 residents who live with mental illness and disabilities
- The group home manager was emotional Monday talking about the uncertain future for tenants
- County Legislator Abe Uchitelle said county officials are trying to determine the needs of each tenant so county agencies can search for new homes for them
The manager is upset and concerned about the tenants’ futures.
Sharon Chisholm, better known as "Chiz," has managed the home since 2004. After learning the property owner — Stockade Group LLC — plans to sell the property, Chisholm has been trying to find housing for the tenants before the building sells.
“I want to do it in a graceful manner,” she said. “I want everybody to be happy as they’re leaving. Some people have been here for 17 years. It’s really sad.”
“It’s all up in the air right now,” said Michael Mahr-Hale, former manager of a different, nearby group home and the son of a tenant living at Chiz’s.
Mahr-Hale recently circulated flyers through the group home to inform tenants that because of a state eviction moratorium and tenant protection laws, they do not have to leave immediately. Mahr-Hale said he is trying to buy time. He hopes local government or a non-profit can step in and save the group home.
“Housing insecurity is incredibly traumatic,” he said Monday during an interview in front of Chiz’s. “You’re traumatizing 68 people. It’s absurd. The county needs to step up.”
Stockade Group’s realtor, Nan Potter, told Spectrum News that company owners want to sell the property because they can no longer sustain it.
The initial asking price for the property is $1,050,000.
Potter said the property has been shown about six times and there have been multiple offers, but none of the parties have signed an agreement yet. She said inspections and paperwork would make the property transfer process take a few months, affording tenants and government officials time to plan their next moves.
Chisholm said she will help tenants pack their belongings over the coming weeks. She does not know what is next.
“I don’t want to cry,” she said, fighting tears. “I’m not a crybaby. Yes, I’m very nervous.”
City and county leaders have held several meetings about the potential sale. People who have been in those meetings told Spectrum News they are working with management to find out the needs of the residents to find them appropriate homes, since few of them were already on the grid with the Ulster County Department of Social Services.
Many residents live with schizophrenia and require constant assistance, Chiz said, which limits the types of housing they could live in safely.
County Legislator Abe Uchitelle, who has been in the meetings and represents this area, said the local governments need to play catch-up.
“There’s a serious deficit in county government for providing help to these residents,” Uchitelle said when reached by phone Monday afternoon. “We’re not in a great position right now to address their needs. That has to change.”
Legislator Abe Uchitelle on the likely displacement of adults with disabilities from a Kingston, #NY group home:— Ben Nandy (@BenNandyNews) March 29, 2021
“There’s a serious deficit in county government for providing help to these residents ... We’re not in a great position to address their needs. That has to change.” pic.twitter.com/Qm07UXaJBh