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Legislature Approves Contract and Funding for Homeless Housing Services

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> Legislature Approves Contract and Funding for Homeless Housing Services


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Legislature Approves Contract and Funding for Homeless Housing Services

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Legislature has authorized Tompkins County to contract with St. John’s Community Services to provide homeless housing services in Tompkins County, authorizing the Department of Social Services to execute contracts with the agency for operation of the county’s day drop-in center (the Friendship Center) and the emergency homeless shelter program.  The vote was 12-1, with Legislator Henry Granison voting no (Chair Martha Robertson was excused.)  The Legislature authorized allocation of $117,753 in Contingency funding to cover the additional net local cost associated with the first two months of the agreement, including $89,250 for start-up expenses.  The new homeless housing services contract will also require an amendment to the 2019 Recommended Budget, to accommodate a $300,000 increase in local funding for homeless housing services.

St. John’s, one of three respondents to the County’s Request for Proposals seeking a new provider for homeless services in anticipation of change in the County’s current contractor, The Rescue Mission of Syracuse, will begin service as of November 1.  The resolution notes that the Department selected St. John’s “on the basis of its compatible philosophy, flexibility, and the knowledge and experience of key staff.”  Long-time Ithaca Rescue Mission Director Richard Bennett is a member of St. Johns’ executive team and will provide support and direct supervision of the local agency’s director.

An alternate resolution that came out of committee would have allocated an amount $27,000 less, which included only start-up expenses described as “critical,” primarily related to health and safety issues.  Legislators, however, by a 10-3 vote (Legislators Granison, Michael Lane and Deborah Dawson dissenting) substituted the version with the higher amounts that was ultimately approved.  All payments are subject to the approval of County Administrator Jason Molino.  Commissioner of Social Services Kit Kephart said that the Department recently learned that grant funding from the NYS Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) may be available to the provider for shelter repairs.  The contract with the provider will stipulate that the County will be reimbursed for whatever costs are provided through any grant received.