July 2018

There is a silent epidemic of poverty and joblessness in our region. It lives behind closed doors, out of sight and out of mind for most of us.

Despite the growth of job opportunities in our region, there is despair for many in the North Country. The opioid epidemic, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental health issues and ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed) create the perfect storm for increases in hopelessness. In effort to address these issues MHAB Enterprises, LLC has created The MHAB Project. Our goal is to develop a life skills campus to provide housing, support services and opportunities for people in need.

The MHAB Project plans to purchase the Clinton Community College dormitories on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base and convert them and the dining hall/conference center into a safe, secure housing complex with integrated services on site for the varying needs of its future residents. Located within walking distance of local employers, public transit, Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The MHAB Project will be the ideal location to help people get back on their feet.

There are compelling reasons to create this public-private partnership between local human service agencies and MHAB Enterprises, LLC.

“The demand for housing far outweighs the community’s available options to house individuals in need.” —Richelle Gregory, Director of Community Services

“At any given time, we see as many as 15-30 homeless veterans and work with many who deal with combat related mental and physical disabilities.” —Steven Bowman, Director, Clinton County Veterans Service Agency

“On any given night in 2018 up to 190 people are homeless, representing a 50% increase from 2017.” —Shauna Miller, Executive Director ETC Housing Corporation

“BHSN’s Supported Housing Program has almost 100 adults on its waiting list with a wait period that is over four years long.” —Peter Trout, Director of Rehabilitative Services, Behavioral Health Services North, Inc. “The Alliance for Positive Health currently serves more than 435 people in their Syringe Exchange Program. According to national statistics that, likely represents about 10% of the people afflicted with IV drug use disorder in our region.” —Diana Aguglia, Regional Director, Alliance for Positive Health.

“This project has the possibility to directly impact social determinants of health:  poverty, affordable housing, access to social/emotional support, access to primary care, pharmacy and grocery stores.” —Connie Wille, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Family Center

The MHAB Project will provide transitional housing opportunities and on-site support services in conjunction with a growing list of local partnering organizations including Clinton County Department of Social Services, Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services, Clinton County Veteran Service Agency, Behavioral Health Services North (BHSN), Champlain Valley Family Center, The United Way, UVMHN/CVPH, The Alliance for Positive Health, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center, Literacy Volunteers, Valley Vista, Conifer Park, and Evergreen Townhouse Community (ETC).

Our goal is to help raise up our community. We are only as strong as our weakest link. There is a need to not only house people in transition, but to truly help them find their way back to taking control of their lives. I have been in recovery for nearly 30 years from alcoholism and drug addiction. I’ve battled depression and mental health issues all my life and I understand the toll it takes. I am excited to work with the experts in the field to address these issues and develop plans together to eliminate these problems.