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RALLY MONDAY IN FAVOR OF LOIS BRONZ CHILDRENS CENTER--REASONS WHY WESTHELP SHOULD STAY OPEN
Release Date: March 07, 2011

REMINDER--RALLY IN SUPPORT OF THE LOIS BRONZ CHILDREN'S CENTER ON MONDAY, MARCH 7th at 6:30 PM --GREENBURGH TOWN HALL. SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR CHILD CARE!
 
COUNTY IS PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH- DON'T CLOSE DOWN WESTHELP
GREENBURGH WILL LOSE $1.2 MILLION A YEAR IF COUNTY GOES AHEAD AND CLOSES FACILITY....
 
     It's my hope that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and the members of the Board of Legislators will reverse the decision to close down WestHelp Greenburgh. It's a penny wise and pound foolish decision.
 In the 1980s, when I was a member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, I objected to Westchester County's policy of housing the homeless in hotels.  Every hotel in Westchester - including the Rye Town & Tarrytown Hiltons was used as a homeless shelter on a daily basis.I recall speaking out during one meeting of the Legislature objecting to the fact that we had spent over $200 a night to house a homeless family in the Rye Hilton.
 
Nineteen years ago that approach stopped. The county started placing the homeless in transitional housing. One of the sites: WestHELP Greenburgh. Not only does this facility provide housing, it also provides supportive services to homeless families. Over 2,400 families have been placed into permanent housing and close to 300 homeless clients have been placed into unsubsidized employment in the last decade.
 
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced plans to close WestHelp Greenburgh- effective September, 2011. I believe this is a costly mistake. I have concerns that the county - in the future- will be forced to house the homeless back in hotels. The reason: the NYS constitution requires the county to find shelter to house the homeless. Once WestHelp closes it will be difficult to persuade any other neighborhood to agree to house the homeless in their community.
 
WestHelp is also more cost effective than housing the homeless in an expensive luxury hotel. The shelter's daily rate is $92.27 per unit per day (108 units).  Most of the other shelters around the county cost the county about $120 a day per unit. The town of Greenburgh has received $1.2 million a year for rent under an agreement between the county and town.
 
I cannot understand why the county is closing a facility that is efficient, and cost effective when  all signs indicate the number of homeless adults and families will increase in the near future.  Important indicators include:
 
 DSS has acknowledged a significant increase in applications for Food Stamps. The total number of Food Stamp applications taken in January was 1,679.  As of today the total number of Food Stamp cases in Westchester County are 37,266 and the total number of individuals receiving food stamps are 68,098. The number of requests for the food pantries and soup kitchens has also increased. Historically, increased demand for these safety net services is indicative of a pending increase in homelessness.
    • Foreclosures and evictions continue to increase.
    • Unemployment rate it Westchester is about 6.5%
 
Since 2009, the County has used Federal stimulus funding (HPRP money) to provide families at-risk of homelessness with rental assistance payments that have kept them out of the homeless system.  This funding has now ended and the County no longer has a way to keep these families from losing their housing and falling into homelessness.  $2.37 million dollars was a one-time award issued in 2009.
 
If West HELP Greenburgh closes, there will also be a ripple effect on the economy and the provider community.  These partnerships with local service providers allow the County to leverage State and Federal resources that are not otherwise available.  For example, West COP Day Care operates a quality child care program for homeless children at West HELP Greenburgh which contributes more than $600,000 of Federal funds to the County’s continuum of homeless services.  If West HELP Greenburgh is closed, the result will be a further reduction in any financial resources that the County may use to offset services.
 
The shelter contract contributes $1.2 million annually to the Town of Greenburgh.  This critical revenue stream will be lost if the WestHELP Greenburgh contract is terminated. A loss of $1.2 million in revenue translates into a significant tax hike in our town-wide budget.
 
Let me know what you think. The members of the Town Board will be voting on a resolution calling on the county not to close down WESTHELP.
 
PAUL FEINER
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
 

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