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Syracuse Residents Ask For Transparency For Public Housing’s Future

The residents in Syracuse are seeking an explanation from the officials when the plans to displace residents and make a school were revealed.

February 17, 2024

Syracuse, N.Y.- Over 60 people fled into a SouthSide Community Center on Friday when the residents came to know about the plans to displace them to build a hospital school which were paused after a public outcry.

The Syracuse Housing Authority had discussions with SUNY Upstate Medical University about demolishing 92 public housing apartments in Pioneer Homes along Interstate 81. The intention was to construct an eight-story optometry school on the site, with Upstate Medical University planning to allocate $125 million from this year’s budget for the project.

When the public came to know about this plan, the plan to build the optometry school was put on hold. The proposed school came as a surprise to many people including Lanessa Owens-Chaplin.

Owens Chaplin was there among the panel along with other residents and State Senator Rachel May. All of these took city residents to the Dunbar City Center to spur action and ensure that the residents were being heard.

Owens Chaplin said, “I think (I-81) is so connected to the public housing issue that we can’t talk about one without talking about the other. In the time that we’re talking about redevelopment, if we’re not being intentional about making sure residents aren’t put first and their needs aren’t being put first, then we run the risk of repeating the history of the original build.”

The housing authority was required to freeze its plans with Upstate after there was a public outcry against the Optometry school.

Owens Chaplin revealed that she met SHA officials to go over their land use plan a week before the plans for the Optometry school were reported and the officials made no mention of the school there.

Upon asking for an explanation, she was told that they were not aware of the plans. SHA will now hold resident meetings and public hearings before open board meetings to finalize a deal.

Owens-Chaplin indicated that Friday’s discussions marked the initial steps towards organizing community action against redevelopment plans that fail to incorporate resident input. During the meeting, cards were distributed to attendees to gather their feedback and opinions.

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Alba Fernando and Boyer Jeremy. “Syracuse residents rally for transparency for public housing’s future after optometry school plan”. Syracuse, February 17, 2024,
Syracuse residents rally for transparency for public housing’s future after optometry school plan –

Last Updated: September 20, 2021