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Massena Independent Living Center receives funds to combat homelessness

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MASSENA - The Massena Independent Living Center has received nearly $194,000 from the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to help combat homelessness in the community.

The funding was announced by OTDA officials Friday. They said more than $15.7 million was awarded to 67 organizations across the state to help prevent homelessness and help those in crisis find stable housing.

Altogether, the Massena Independent Living Center received $193,748. Other north country awards were $298,952 to the Jefferson County Department of Social Services, $259,436 to the ETC Housing Corp. in Clinton County and $130,837 to the Snow Belt Housing Company, Inc. in Lewis County.

Jeffrey A. Reifensnyder, executive director of the Massena Independent Living Center, said that just because residents can’t see homeless people, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

“We’ve actually been working on homeless prevention for three years now. (The funding) is all directed at addressing what seems to be a unique rural flavor to homelessness,” he said.

“We were never aware until we actually got involved in this. It’s not in your face in rural areas like it is in urban areas. You can drive through Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo, down in urban areas and see it. You see it in a different way than you see it here,” Mr. Reifensnyder said.

Instead, the homeless in Massena might be found living in tents, cars or a friend’s kitchen floor, he said.

This is the second year the Massena Independent Living Center has received the funding, according to Mr. Reifensnyder.

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