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NYC homeless skipping Cortland

Broome officials blast relocation program

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Vehicles jockey for empty parking places during an afternoon on Main Street in Cortland in this file photo.

Homeless people from New York City are being abandoned upstate, Broome County claimed recently, but Cortland County officials have yet to see it.

No one being sent from New York City has opened a case with the Cortland County’s Department of Social Services, Commissioner Kristen Monroe said in an email Thursday.

Broome County’s Department of Social Services identified five cases this year of homeless people being sent to Broome County, according to a statement from the county released last week.

Those five cases are part of New York City’s Human Resources Administration’s special one-time assistance program, started in August, to relocate homeless people, according to the statement.

The program will provide one year’s full rent up front and will allow the city’s Department of Social Services clients to move within New York City, to other New York counties or outside the state, according to the city’s Department of Social Services.

Individuals and families eligible for the program had to have entered a shelter by Sept. 1; been in the shelter for 90 days or more; and must be working and/or have enough income to make future rent payments, according to the city’s Department of Social Services. The program can only be used for apartments, too.

Cortland County did receive one application for assistance from the New York City district, Monroe said. However, that person never ended up opening a case.

“We will continue to screen all applications for the potential of being involved in this program, but at this time we have no information indicating there are residents in Cortland County who are participating in the program,” Monroe said in an email. “It is conceivable some could be, but we have not seen them applying for Temporary Assistance benefits here yet.”

A spokesman for Onondaga County said it is also not a problem there.

In addition to the program being question by Broome County, New York City operates its Project Reconnect program, which helps fund a one-way travel assistance outside the city to a person or family by train, bus or domestic or international airline.

In a September 2017 report by the New York Post, in the past five years the city paid $1.2 million in travel expenses for 2,512 families who left the city. In 2016 the top destinations were Florida, Puerto Rico and North Carolina.

Broome County believes New York City is illegally transferring its homeless people to the county and is demanding it stop the special one-time assistance program. It is also requesting compensation for ongoing local assistance costs for the five cases discovered so far.

Broome County said it is prepared to use any means possible, including legal action, to stop the program.

“I support all efforts to help people out of homelessness,” Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said in the statement. “However, I have a problem with this New York City program sending people to Broome County, paying for their rent for one year and having no intents of them returning. That is illegal and could have a significant impact on our taxpayers.”

Monroe said Cortland County will continue to follow the issue, and Broome County’s efforts to determine if it is legal.

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