Press-Republican

Monday

April 1, 2013

Helping the homeless for less

MALONE — Franklin County may spend $9,350 to save $70,000 in temporary-housing costs for the homeless, sex offenders and those whose behavior gets them evicted.

The Department of Social Services spent $54,000 on temporary residences and another $42,600 on emergency shelter in 2012 for the homeless and hard-to-place persons in need of a place to stay.

But the temporary staff position used to coordinate services for these people expires in May.

In order to keep that help and at the same time prepare for the state’s eventual takeover of certain Medicaid cases, Social Services Commissioner Lesley Lyon is shuffling workers to save as many jobs and services as she can.

A resolution on the proposed job changes will be considered at the next meeting of the County Legislature, set for Thursday.

BACKLOG OF CASES

Lyon estimates three or four positions will be lost as the volume of social-welfare caseloads goes down starting this fall, when the state begins taking over between 40 and 60 percent of the county’s Social Services case files.

Shifting workers now will counter any anticipated staff losses and catch the department up with a backlog of applications for public assistance and food stamps that are now taking as long as 45 days to process instead of 30, she said.

At one point, the wait time climbed to between 60 and 80 days because of the number of people seeking help from Social Services.

Jannelle Reome, director of financial assistance for Social Services, said an average of 33 homeless people a month seek help.

The proposed staff changes include retaining the community-service aide who assists the homeless and hard-to-place to find housing.

The process includes working with the person’s family members and friends to take them in and arranging for a hotel for a few nights until placements can be worked out.

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