Lewis County Opportunities, Inc.  •  8265 State Route 812  •  Lowville, NY  13367
Telephone:  315-376-8202  •  Fax:  315-376-8421  •  Location and Business Hours  •   Contact Us

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Housing Assistance


Housing Assistance Services assists income-eligible families throughout Jefferson and Lewis Counties (New York) to obtain decent, safe, affordable housing through variety of programs and services:
Rental Subsidies Project Based Family
Home Ownership

Rental Subsidies

Rental subsidies are provided through Section 8 vouchers.  The subsidies provide the means for low income families, the elderly and disabled to obtain decent, safe, affordable housing.

Eligibility to participate is based on family size, income, and other guidelines.  Units must also pass a Housing Quality Standard Inspection and both parties (landlord and tenant) must be in agreement to participate by their willingness to sign into a contract and lease.  A voucher can be used to rent an apartment, single home, mobile home, or a mobile home lot.

Income guidelines are based on gross income.  The following information is presented for informational purposes; additional income-related and other guidelines will apply which can be explained over the phone or at your appointment.  Eligible income levels are subject to change without notice.


Jefferson County Lewis County
Effective 4/1/18 Annual Gross Income Effective 4/1/18 Annual Gross Income
  "Very low Income" category   "Very low Income"
1 Person $ 22,550 1 Person $ 22,550
2 Person $ 25,750 2 Person $ 25,750
3 Person $ 28,950 3 Person $ 28,950
4 Person  $ 32,150 4 Person  $ 32,150
5 Person $ 34,750 5 Person $ 34,750
6 Person $ 37,300 6 Person $ 37,300
7 Person $ 39,900 7 Person $ 39,900
8 Person $ 42,450 8 Person $ 42,450


To learn more about Opportunities' Housing Assistance Services:
  • In Lewis County, please call Opportunities' Main Office at 315-376-8202, extension 3. 
  • In Jefferson County, please call Opportunities' Housing Assistance Office at 315-788-0193. 
Community Impact At A Glance In 2017, over 1,300 families received assistance through Opportunities' Housing Assistance Services.  In addition, a total of 894 days of temporary shelter were provided through Opportunities' Homeless Apartment program.

Housing Services Pumps millions of dollars Into Jeff-Lewis Economy
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Project Based
This program permits local Administrators to assign up to 15% of their Section 8 Certificates for either newly constructed or rehabilitated units.
Family Self Sufficiency

In the pictures above, Housing Specialist Lisa Wackernagel congratulates Sarah Doherty, (pictured at left), Holly Vulgamore (pictured at center) and Mariane Gemayel (pictured at right) on achieving their goals through Opportunities' Family Self-Sufficiency Services.  All three participants received a check for the accumulated dollar amount in their escrow accounts after graduating from the program.
Opportunities' Family Self-Sufficiency Services helps families receiving Section 8 rental assistance to achieve economic independence and self-reliance through education and job training.  This program motivates and helps participating individuals to:
  • Identify their career goals;
  • Identify the barriers which could prevent achievement of their goals;
  • Identify resources and services necessary for participants success;
  • Develop a plan to achieve specific goals and objectives necessary for self-sufficiency and economic independence;
  • Obtain support services related to their plan;
  • Receive case management services, encouragement and moral support as they work toward reaching their goals
An Escrow account is held for the participant from the increased rental charges that a family pays as its earnings rise. Families that complete the program may withdraw funds from these accounts for any purpose after five years.
Success Stories

Sara Doherty set goals to return to school, earn her LPN licensure, and obtain more reliable transportation. As a single mother of two children and working to support her family, Sarah knew it would take a lot of hard work to reach her goals. With her determination, she was able to earn her LPN licensure which then led to a higher paying job. She also was able to obtain a vehicle loan for a new and reliable vehicle. During this time, Sarah's escrow account grew to nearly $5,000, which she received upon her completion of the program. In her words, “It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it".

Holly Volgamore was working as a clerk at a local convenience store.  She knew she one day wanted to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse.  Holly also expressed a desire to obtain her driver's license and to improve her budgeting skills to better help make ends meet.  With a lot of hard work, and trails and changes along the way, Holly was able to chart her own course to eventually achieve all of her goals.  She graduated from a two-year LPN program, then went on to pass the New York State Board exams.  She also became a certified Emergency Medical Technician, and was hired as an LPN by a local employer.

Mariane Gemayel set goals for herself including improving her financial skills, having more reliable transportation, furthering her education, and obtaining more secure employment.  Her final goal was to purchase her own home.  Over the next two years, Mariane demonstrated her commitment to achieving these goals.  She participated in a money makeover program sponsored by her church, and eventually secured reliable transportation in obtaining her own vehicle.  She completed a course in theological and ministerial areas and was commissioned a lay minister by the Catholic Church.  She was then hired as a lay minister by her church, accomplishing her stated goal of obtaining more secure employment.  In time, Mariane accomplished her final goal of owning her own home, through her participating in Opportunities' Home Ownership Services (see story below).

To learn more about Opportunities' Family Self-Sufficiency Services, or any of our housing services:
  • In Lewis County, please call Opportunities' Main Office at 315-376-8202.
  • In Jefferson County, please call Opportunities' Housing Assistance Office at 315-788-0193.
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Home Ownership Services helps families reach "American Dream"

When Kathy and Dudley first became interested in becoming Homeowners they knew they faced several barriers. Dudley was working part time and Kathy was receiving disability income. Having past credit issues, they knew they would have to work hard to become Homeowners. Once the credit issues were resolved, both were amazed when they received the letter from USDA Rural Development stating they had been approved for a mortgage.

Dudley admits there were times throughout the process where it was easy to become frustrated and that he would have liked to back out, but Kathy kept pushing forward.  "We had always wanted to be homeowners, since we were old enough to be out on our own” said Kathy.  With the support of family, friends, and involved agencies, she was confident that it would all work out.

Kathy and Dudley do not believe they would have been able to become homeowners without the help of the Homeownership Option subsidy administered by Opportunities’ Housing Assistance Program, and the $35,000 Community Development Block Grant  they received from Snow Belt Housing company, Inc.  With the help of this grant money, which could be used for down payment, closing costs and repairs (if needed) they were able to buy a more expensive home particularly because their home only needed minimal repairs, leaving the bulk of their grant dollars to be used for the down payment and closing costs.

Kathy and Dudley admit that some of the “legal stuff” was somewhat intimidating and without legal aid services readily available locally, and with no money to hire an attorney, they really needed to put their trust in the agencies with which they were working. 

Over time, Kathy and Dudley followed through with their program obligations of becoming a homeowner. Even with transportation barriers, they were still able to take the required Homeownership Counseling course, which was only available in a neighboring county approximately 40 miles away..

At their closing interview, Kathy beamed and stated, “We’re not even paying out as much as we were when we were renters”. They would like everyone to know that even with some barriers and limited income, if a person is willing to work hard and follow through, they too can be a homeowner.

ariane Gemayel is very happy with her new home.  With her hard work and some

help from Opportunities’ Home Ownership Services and other community resources, she achieved her longtime dream of owning her own home this past winter. 

Mariane is a single mother who works two jobs in order to make ends meet.  As a person who had received rental assistance through Opportunities’ Housing Assistance program since 1996, she decided to participate in the agency’s Homeownership program, and became the first homeowner under the program.  Opportunities offers the program in both Jefferson and Lewis Counties, with employees acting as liaisons to inform prospective participants about how the service works.

In short, Home Owner Services provides an incentive for low income families to purchase a home of their own by paying a portion of the participant’s monthly mortgage payments for up to 15 years of the loan.    The payments are based on the income level of the family, with utilities, insurance, maintenance savings, and taxes all considered when calculating the payments.  Special eligibility waivers provide further incentives to individuals with disabilities. 

Mariane Gemayel stands in front of her new home.  She became the first homeowner under Opportunities’ Homeownership program.


According to program workers, participants can expect some hard work ahead, but the rewards can be certainly worth it.  When an applicant first comes in, program workers try to be realistic about the service.  For instance, if the applicant meets the eligibility criteria, program workers explain the importance of having enough money to cover start-up costs the participant will be responsible for.  Typically this involves about $1,000, but it can vary from situation to situation.

Start up costs generally include a down payment, an independent inspection by a professional to determine if the house is up to code, and subsequent repairs to bring the home up to code.  Closing costs and insurance premiums are other common costs a person needs to prepare for ahead of time.  Each person is also responsible to secure his or her own funding from a lender.  Program workers help out by providing information on some options, but it is the person's responsibility to shop around and meet with the different lenders.

There are some resources in the community that might be able to help with some of the start up costs, which is perfectly acceptable as part of the Homeownership program.  Program workers can assist by providing this information.

About the Homeownership Program
Home Ownership Services is designed to help low income families purchase a home of their own and receive assistance in paying the mortgage payment up to 15 years of the loan. The payments are based on the income of the families. The utilities, insurance, maintenance savings, and taxes are all considerations when calculating the payments. The home must be a single family home. It can be located anywhere in Jefferson or Lewis Counties and there are several organizations and financial institutions that have programs that can combine with this service.
To learn more about Home Ownership Services, or any of our housing services:
  • In Lewis County, please call Opportunities' Main Office at 315-376-8202, extension 3.
  • In Jefferson County, please call Opportunities' Housing Assistance Office at 315-788-0193.


Community Impact At A Glance Housing Services pumps millions of dollars annually into Jefferson-Lewis economy
In 2017... Jefferson County Lewis

Rental Vouchers to landlords through ‘Housing Choice Vouchers’

$ 6.7 million $ 1.4 million $ 8.1 million
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