The Gloversville Common Council voted 6-0 during a special meeting Thursday night to put $170,000 of federal funding toward the purchase of 24 3rd Ave. — site of the former Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2077 — for the purpose of operating a temporary Code Blue homeless shelter.
First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, who earlier this week agreed to chair a committee focused on finding a solution to the city’s lack of a shelter, sponsored the resolution to purchase the old VFW — after the council conducted an executive session to discuss the purchase. The resolution also included a lease agreement for the location.
Weiss included leasing a portion of the premises as soon as possible, “to serve as a Code Blue facility between now and the time of purchase closing at the sum of $2,200 per month,” she said.
The current owner of the building is Real Estate Broker Joseph M. Lander. According to the property’s Capital Region Multiple Listing Service real estate profile, it is 4,928 square feet and has suitable rooms for multiple activities, as well as tile floors and a full kitchen. Lander purchased the building in 2015 for $45,000.
Members of the Common Council and Mayor Vince DeSantis indicated it was the city’s intention to sign the lease agreement with Lander Friday morning and begin operating the shelter immediately — in anticipation of below-freezing temperatures this weekend.
“I just have to compliment everybody who put this together in a record amount of time,” 3rd Ward Councilwoman Betsy Batchelor said.
“Seeing as how we’re in public session, we should make it known how hopefully we’ll be up and running by this weekend,” 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski.
Weiss explained that the money for the property and the lease comes from $200,000 set aside from the city’s $1.5 million in federal money through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). In October, DeSantis announced his plan to use those $200,000 for the purpose of buying and/or retrofitting an existing building in the city to serve as a homeless shelter.
But since then, DeSantis had publicly withdrawn the idea, stating it couldn’t work unless the Fulton County Board of Supervisors was willing to apply for an available state funding stream to pay for the shelter’s operation.
Also, the recent cold snap including multiple nights of below freezing temperatures has been coupled with increasing public pressure from members of the Center of Hope, the entity that operated a temporary Code Blue shelter at the former YWCA at 33 Bleecker St. last winter.
Thursday night, DeSantis and members of the Council made it clear that the city will need the public’s help to bring the shelter into operation immediately.
“Now the work starts,” the mayor said. “It’s not over until the papers are signed, and we won’t be able to get these papers signed until [Friday] morning, but I’ll be contacting the owners for that right away. Now, the work is organizing and actually operating a Code Blue shelter for the city of Gloversville.”
Siarkowski said Fulton County has agreed to provide bedding for the shelter.
“[Friday] at some time there will be a Facebook post looking for volunteers, and letting the public know what we need, so look for that post,” Weiss said.