WATERLOO — By the end of the year, single women from Seneca County who have become homeless will have a place to go.

The Cayuga-Seneca Community Action Program plans to open a nine-bedroom women’s homeless shelter at 23 Center St. by mid-December at the earliest or the end of the year at the latest.

The agency — also known as CSCAP — has converted a former convent for nuns who staffed St. Mary’s School intop the shelter. The former convent housed CSCAP offices, which have moved to the vacant former St. Mary’s rectory next door to make way for the shelter.

“We’re just buttoning up some loose ends, such as getting key fobs, making sure the heating and cooling systems work and putting in the furniture we have purchased and should arrive in the next two weeks,” said Laurie Piccolo, executive director of the Auburn-based agency.

“We will be able to house women by the end of the year, and we’ll have a grand opening in early 2020,” Piccolo added.

The convent was built in the early 1960s to house nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught at the former school, which closed in 2004. Its new use will be as an emergency transitional housing facility for up to nine single, homeless women. Women referred to the facility will have encountered a crisis that caused them to be homeless.

CSCAP staff will provide counseling to help get them to again be self-sufficient, including job skills training. Each woman will have an individualized plan that sets goals so they can be self-sufficient and move into their own housing.

The facility will not be a safe house for victims of domestic violence.

Women in that situation will be referred to Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes for discreet, secret emergency housing. Referrals will come from several human service agencies, with most referrals expected to come from the Seneca County Department of Human Services.

CSCSP had been leasing the former convent from St. Francis-St. Clare Parish of Waterloo and Seneca Falls. It has since bought the building from the parish and is now leasing the former rectory for its offices.

Work on the conversion began in September 2018 by Frank J. Marianacchi Construction of Bloomfield, the lowest of four bidders at $1,069,600.

The interior essentially was gutted and rebuilt to contain nine bedrooms and shared common areas of a kitchen, dining room and storage area. Exterior work includes new windows, a new roof and water lines to serve a new fire-suppression sprinkler system.

A single woman can stay for up to two years and receive ongoing case management services while at the shelter and for up to six months after leaving to be on their own.

The project is financed by Generations Bank, the village of Waterloo through its Community Development Block Grant funds, and the state Office of Housing and Community Renewal.

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