WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — What was intended to be a temporary homeless shelter in Jefferson County has kept its doors open through the new year.

The emergency shelter, located at 137 Main Street in the City of Watertown, was first opened following a severe lake-effect snowstorm in mid-November. This provided shelter and resources to upwards of 30 individuals at times after over a dozen were relocated inside the facility from the Butler Pavilion in the downtown area.

But starting January 3, 2023, the shelter will close its doors at night. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., occupants will be directed to a new warming center at the Salvation Army in Watertown.

Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman William Johnson said this decision was made partly due to staffing issues.

“It was only supposed to be a temporary shelter,” Johnson explained. “We have to because of staffing reasons because of security and our own staffing. We’ve got to transition [the occupants] to a more permanent spot, which is the Salvation Army.”

The Salvation Army’s facility will provide beds, laundry services, showers and kennels for dogs if needed.

Although these changes will soon take effect, Johnson said the temporary shelter exposed a major crisis in Jefferson County.

“It was eye-opening for me,” he said. “We’ve had our own DSS group there, plus a number of the nonprofits up there, every day working with these people trying to get them placed. This morning, there are people up there trying to get the people the help they need.”

“Again, I’ll emphasize, that we’ll help anybody that wants to be helped,” he added.

Jefferson County’s Community Homelessness Steering Committee is set to present recommendations to further address homelessness in the county in the coming weeks.

Additional resources are available at the following locations:

  • Mental Health Association, 425 Washington Street
  • Northern Regional Center for Independent Living, 210 Court Street
  • The Care Center at the Watertown Urban Mission, 247 Factory Street
  • Anchor Recovery Center, 241 State Street
  • PFC Dwyer Vet Peer to Peer program, 247 State Street