Homeless aid drops

Mary Perham
Joseph Hauryski

The recent federal award for services to the homeless in Steuben County underscores the problem of poorly funded mandates, according to county Legislature Chairman Joe Hauryski, R-Campbell.

“Historically, this has been an issue,” Hauryski said. “Again, we go back to the situation where we’re expected to do these things. They say, ‘Here’s the rules, do this.f Well, where’s the money to do it?”

The county Legislature on Monday accepted a federal and state award of $189,908 for each of the next three years.

And while officials lauded the county Department of Social Services for securing the highly competitive award, the amount is roughly one-third of the $600,000-$800,000 in funds Steuben has received in the past.

The federal money is filtered through the state, which says it is working to reduce and streamline state costs and operations. That means paying for any additional assistance is likely up to the county and its taxpayers, Hauryski said.

“The state changes the formulas and we’re left with, ‘Here’s your problem,’” Hauryski said. “A lot of things have to come together, improved economy, all kinds of things. And there’s no simple solution. We need to keep the focus on working with our state (representatives).”

The county currently helps about 1,600 people unable to find their own homes, according to County DSS Commissioner Kathy Muller.

But the perception of homelessness is different here than it is in a large urban area, she said.

“We don’t have tent cities, we don’t have people out on the street,” Muller said. “We have people who don’t have homes.

The local agencies receiving the funds are:

Arbor Development Habitability Inspections: $8,500

Arbor Development Security Deposits: $25,000

Arbor Development NET Domestic Violence: $29,500

Southern Tier Legal Services: $43,000

Institute for Human Services Inc.: $44,00

In other action, legislators:

• Formally transferred the county’s Public Health Home Health Care certificate to Visiting Nursing Association of WNY, Inc.

• Accepted $1,523,264 in state funds for an overhaul of the county’s emergency communication system.

• Accepted $198,000 from the state office of Community Renewal to fund activities by Arbor Development Inc., including the replacement of defective residential wells and septic systems for low- and moderate-income homeowners of Steuben County.