$30M State proposal takes aim at homelessness – Utica OD – 9/6/19

September 6, 2019

For some former Oneida County jail inmates, finding housing after his or her release has been challenging, authorities say.

Such issues have resulted in increased rates of homelessness but officials said potential remedies are in play.

The Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative recently issued a request for proposals for projects that would serve groups of people prone to homelessness, including young adults with histories of incarceration and individuals re-entering the community after incarceration.

The 2019-2020 state budget continued a $20 billion, five-year plan to develop affordable and supportive housing for state residents who are housing challenged.

The five-year goal is to build at least 6,000 units of supportive housing. These units would be dedicated to homeless individuals with special needs or conditions. It would be part of a larger effort to develop a total of 20,000 units over 15 years, according to the request for proposals.

In this latest funding round (the fourth, so far), the goal is to provide up to $30 million for at least 1,200 supportive housing units.

Officials say these kinds of projects eliminate barriers to personal success.

“Housing stability is integral to health and well-being and New York State is promoting that through these significant investments in supportive housing,” said state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Once people have stable housing, they can concentrate on other factors affecting their health, like doctor visits, diet and employment.”

Ernie Talarico, director of operations for the Rescue Mission of Utica, said individuals who come to the shelter are connected with caseworkers who help access services, whether it be housing, mental health counseling or another matter. The shelter serves populations from Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties.

Every year, an estimated 70 to 80 percent of individuals who seek shelter services at the Rescue Mission – including those recently incarcerated – are ultimately referred to permanent or transitional housing, Talarico said.

Talarico said the Rescue Mission also works with the county jail to find housing and assistance for certain inmates.

“It’s a barrier to getting employed. We try to help eliminate that,” Talarico said, adding that finding housing helps reduce recidivism.

“We’re there to help them find a place to go.”

Contact reporter Jolene Cleaver at 315-792-4956 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Cleaver).



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