SENECA FALLS - The legal dissolution of the Johnson Home for Indigent Females Inc., at 57 Cayuga St., has led to the transfer of its $367,370 in assets to Seneca Housing Inc.
Board members of the Johnson Home and Seneca Housing were to meet today for lunch at the Holiday Inn to celebrate the transfer.
The assets consisted primarily of proceeds from the sale of the Johnson Home property two years ago. Robert E. Kernan, president of the Johnson Home board of directors, said that under state law, the surviving assets of a dissolved not-for-profit corporation must be transferred to a not-for-profit that provides similar services to the local community.
The Johnson Home was opened Dec. 1, 1898. Successful businessman Justus B. Johnson, with the blessing of his wife, Mary Frances, provided in his will for the conversion of his private residence to a home for women in need. He also created an endowment to maintain it, dictated the institution's name and set up the first board of trustees to form the corporation to control and maintain the non-sectarian home.
Various financial factors caused the home to close in September 2005. During its existence, more than 500 women had lived at the adult care home.
Seneca Housing was established in 1972 with a mission to help provide fair and adequate housing for low-income, elderly and distressed people. The agency administers the Section 8 housing choice voucher program and other housing programs in Seneca County.
“The mission of the Johnson Home and Seneca Housing are very similar in purpose and vision,'' Kernan said.
He said he and other Johnson Home board members SueEllen Crego, Brien Rogers, Howard Scutt, Kathleen Suffredini, Abbie Gazely and Jack Riley all agreed that the transfer of assets to Seneca Housing will “help ensure the continuation of the mission and vision of the Johnson Home in supporting housing for the needy in Seneca County.''
“We are extremely gratified with the additional infusion of funds from the Johnson Home,'' said Mary McDonald, executive director of Seneca Housing. “We will now be able to expand our service base in Seneca County to include financial fitness training, foreclosure counseling, first-time homebuyer assistance, homeowner repair assistance, landlord repair assistance and related preservation and development of safe, decent and affordable housing …”
The Johnson Home had experienced operating deficits over several years. After exploring alternatives to continuing the home, Kernan said the board reluctantly prepared a plan for its closure that was approved by the state Health Department in August 2005.
The plan allowed for a smooth transition for its residents and staff.
“The board took this action with great regret, noting the long history of service that the Johnson Home provided to the Seneca Falls and Seneca County community,'' Kernan said.
He said the state's reimbursement rate for adult care homes was not enough to ensure the long-term survival of this type of adult care facility.
“This unfortunate circumstance has accelerated the closure of many of those types of homes throughout the state, driving more needy people into more expensive nursing homes, which will ultimately increase the cost of adult care for our senior population, along with costing the state and its taxpayers millions of dollars more each year,'' Kernan said.
The property was purchased two years ago by a group called Johnson Home Development Corp., which is remodeling the building and marketing it as condominiums.