Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources of Tompkins County is already a pretty well-known pillar of Ithaca’s sometimes unseen community.
Located in the farthest reach of West State Street, OAR’s office can be where new lives can begin or, at the very least, present day life can be made a little bit easier, working to advocate for and assist people who are or have been incarcerated in the Tompkins County Jail and get them back on their feet, whether through programming or its resources.
Over the past decade, as housing has become more and more of a pressing issue in the City of Ithaca, so too has the strain on affordable housing for those most in need of stability following a period of incarceration or addiction.
Over the past decade, there’s been great progress for this type of housing where it didn’t exist before: There’s been Magnolia House (completed in 2010), Chartwell House (renovated in the early 2000s) and coming soon, if approvals come through, Amici House, catering mostly toward women and children. But OAR wants to house more. Presently, OAR is in negotiations to purchase a somewhat out of shape house downtown zoned for use as a rooming house, to allow service-supported housing in a convenient downtown location. Called Endeavor House, the group is currently working to raise close to $200,000 in funds ($110,000 to purchase the house, $75,000 for basic electrical and plumbing) to purchase the building, which will house between three and seven people.
“People can’t make long term changes in their lives without a roof over their head,” said OAR director Deb Dietrich. “We’ll be linking our clients in Endeavor House to higher education to vocational training… we’ll be doing a lot of linkages and providing someone a decent room.”
This house will be for men and will work as part of a “housing first” model, the idea where people cannot be able to get their lives together unless they have stable circumstances to come home to. While OAR used to operate a similar home outside of town in the more rural reaches of Tompkins County, this house will differ by combining a stable home life with the convenient access to programming that is available only by living within the city itself.
“Rather than being out in Groton or Enfield,” Dietrich said, “you could be here near the center of things.”
Because the house cannot be purchased through a mortgage, OAR has been seeking a loan to purchase the house but, of course, they need capital funding and, once they purchase it, extensive work to make the house habitable. Anyone interested in assisting the cause can give to OAR at 910 W. State Street or through the PayPal function on their website, www.OARTompkinsCounty.com.