Friends of the North Country, Inc.

 Est. 1981 

Our Organization

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Friends of the North Country, Inc. (Friends) is a not-for-profit New York State Rural Preservation Corporation. Founded in 1981, Friends has been dedicated to sustainable development and preservation of the North Country for 40 years.

Friends is incorporated to work throughout New York State, although our primary focus is on the North Country region of Clinton, Franklin and Essex Counties. Our staff consists of dedicated professionals with a variety of backgrounds in the fields of community development, fundraising and grant writing, affordable housing, housing counseling, construction management, infrastructure project management, and federal and state grant project management.  


Friends works on behalf of local governments, non-profits, and for the general community, and has been successful in generating millions of dollars in Federal, State, and private investment in local and regional housing, park, infrastructure, historic preservation and community planning projects.


Friends has helped thousands of families in Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties remain in their homes, by pursuing affordable housing opportunities and providing housing counseling, foreclosure intervention, and home repair or replacement. Affordable housing is a multi-faceted issue that includes the needs of the elderly, those with limited mobility, low-income households living in substandard housing, and those paying high rents, unable to break out of the tenancy cycle, and others.  With two trained housing counselors, Friends is better able to serve the varied and ever-expanding housing needs of North Country residents.


While Friends primary focus is helping clients with their housing needs, Friends also participates in planning and development of community revitalization projects such as downtown redevelopment, emergency services and hazard mitigation planning, and other unique means of enhancing the area as a way to improve the quality of life in the North Country.


Our Mission

  • To assist with the provision of safe, decent, affordable housing. 

  • To undertake economic development, which supports community wide revitalization.

  • To identify, designate and restore locally significant historic structures.

  • To generally act as facilitators in the process of stabilization, growth and development.


Melissa Furnia

Melissa is a North Country native who has dedicated two decades to providing her community the best possible service.

Since her first day on the job in 2001, Melissa has been a tireless advocate for upstate residents, working first as a Finance Manager and then transitioning into the Director of Finance and Housing, then rising to Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2019.

'Executive Director' is just one of many hats Melissa wears; depending on the day you may find her in the field, working with a client, attending a board meeting or prepping a grant application!

Our Executive Director

Contact Melissa:

518-293-5045 ext. 134

Melissa Furnia