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Lawmaker wants counties to explain housing funding

Chautauqua County’s spending for temporary housing in 2018 cost about $1.1 million.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, D-Rockaway Beach, wants counties to explain how such money is spent. Pheffer Amato recently introduced A.9075 in the state Assembly to amend the state Social Services Law to require any local government that uses hotels, motels, non-government organizations or other entities to house the homeless to provide a website listing where the homeless are housed and how long the contracts between the municipality and the housing provider will last.

“New York is facing a homelessness crisis, where billions of dollars are being spent on temporary housing solutions,” Pheffer Amato wrote in her legislative justification. “The shelter system is at full capacity, in circumstances like these localities and non-government organizations often resort to renting out hotel or motel rooms. Localities and non-government organizations are using taxpayer dollars to subsidize hotel owners and operators’ costs, at the expense of communities, tourism, and local economic development. Recent articles have come out noting that these same hotels and motels are receiving tax incentives and tax breaks totaling over $12,000,000 in tax savings. Additionally, consumers and residents deserve transparency to better understand how their community is being impacted by the homeless crisis, to what extent, and for how long.”

Chautauqua County legislators recently learned from Christine Schuyler, county Social Services commissioner and public health director, Katie Geise, Workforce Investment Board executive director, and Diane Anderson, county certification director, that the county spent $29,790 on temporary housing assistance for the homeless in September. From January to September, the county spent a total of $379,747 on temporary housing assistance, much lower than the county spent in 2018 and more in line with 2017 spending. In 2018, the county spent $1,104,832 on temporary housing assistance, which was a $728,248 increase compared to the total in 2017.

In the month of September, there was a total of 67 cases for temporary housing assistance for homeless people. Of the 67 cases, 27 were single males, 22 single female sand 18 families. In addition, eight individuals were on parole or recently released from jail. There were zero individual/families placed in temporary housing due to Code Blue conditions in the month of September.

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