Gloversville

Assemblyman Smullen backs Gloversville’s Code Blue plan

From left, Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead, Caroga Supervisor Scott Horton, and Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born discuss elements of Gloversville’s proposal for the county to apply for state funding for the city’s Code Blue temporary shelter, during the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting Tuesday.
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From left, Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead, Caroga Supervisor Scott Horton, and Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born discuss elements of Gloversville’s proposal for the county to apply for state funding for the city’s Code Blue temporary shelter, during the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting Tuesday.

GLOVERSVILLE Gloversville’s proposal for Fulton County to apply for state reimbursement funding for the city’s Code Blue temporary shelter has received a boost from state Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Meco, in anticipation of the county Board of Supervisors vote on the funding plan at its Sept. 12 meeting.

Smullen expressed his support for the shelter funding plan in a letter written to the Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Fagan. The letter was reviewed Tuesday by the Board’s Human Services Committee.

In his letter, the assemblyman described the city government operating a Code Blue shelter last winter at the former VFW hall at 24 Third Ave., which the city was leasing but now owns and is using as its Recreation Commission headquarters. Smullen said the city was able to operate the shelter using volunteers and donated items, but has now come forward with a plan to hire the Albany-based Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless to provide professional staff to operate the shelter for the coming winter.

“Full state funding is available for a code blue shelter in each county,” Smullen wrote. “The application is submitted by the Department of Social Services in that county. They are asking for the county’s cooperation to authorize a grant application for full funding through the Department of Social Services.”

Smullen went on to explain why he thinks the supervisors should support Gloversville’s plan.

“If the state for any reason were to reject the application or if funding became unavailable the city would terminate the project or provide funding in another way,” Smullen wrote. “Therefore, I support the process of applying for funding from the state to obtain a Code Blue emergency overnight shelter in the city of Gloversville.”

Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charles Potter, who serves on the Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee, said he believes there is already broad support on the Board of Supervisors for the county to agree to perform the role of a “pass through” for the state funding to pay for the city’s shelter, but he also thinks Smullen’s support letter will be helpful to getting final Board approval for the funding plan.

“I think it’s influential anytime your state representative is asking you to really consider something,” Potter said.

The city’s six-page funding plan document titled, “2022 Cooperative Agreement by and between The Fulton County Department of Social Services and The City of Gloversville For Access to Code Blue Reimbursement,” includes signature lines for Fagan, Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis and Fulton County Department of Social Services (FCDSS) Commissioner Anne Solar.

The agreement calls for Social Services to apply for funding from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYSOTDA) for reimbursement for the operation of a temporary Code Blue homeless shelter, which operates on nights when the temperature is expected to fall below 32 degrees.

The agreement would run from Nov. 15, 2022 to Nov. 14, 2023, and reimbursement would be capped at $93,050.

“This Agreement is contingent on the approval of FCDSS’s Code Blue Plan by NYSOTDA and may be terminated immediately should funding be disapproved, disrupted, or terminated,” reads the plan.

The agreement states the shelter will operate within the regulations of federally-funded homeless programs by county Social Services, which includes providing temporary shelter for homeless people who reside in the county or are considered to be “where found” homeless inside the county in accordance with federal regulations.

Broadalbin Supervisor Bruce Van Genderen asked Solar, during the county Human Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, to explain who fits the criteria of the “where found” concept for homeless people.

“Anyone who is found homeless, according to the regulations,” Solar said. “So, if the police were out at night and they saw some guy sleeping and it fit the code blue criteria, they are required to offer him shelter.”

“Or they could be walk-ins?” Caroga Supervisor Scott Horton asked.

“They can walk in on their own, yes, once the shelter is open, but, if we find them, they have to be given shelter,” Solar said.

Solar said contracting with Gloversville’s shelter will give her department a place to send homeless people on Code Blue nights.

“[The agreement] does include that we will be able to place DSS clients [at Gloversville’s shelter] if they are Code Blue eligible,” Solar told the Human Services Committee.

Stead said working with Gloversville will save Social Services staff time it currently gives to arrange motel or hotel rooms for homeless people on Code Blue nights, something he said is becoming a struggle for the county.

“For all intents and purposes, this is a pass-through type agreement,” Stead said to the Human Services Committee. “It basically reiterates that this is a flat dollar amount; it comes from the state; the county is not responsible for any other costs, and it’s up to that $93,050.”

He also said county officials extensively researched whether it was possible for Gloversville to apply for the state reimbursement money without involving the county, but ultimately determined the county has to be the applicant for the funding, even though the program is run by Gloversville.

“This is for Code Blue services, this is not for general housing or extended emergency housing of families and so forth, this is just for Code Blue,” Stead said.

Solar said Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless will be able to bill any nights the shelter is open, even on nights when Social Services does not refer homeless individuals to the shelter.

Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born asked whether Code Blue season ends by April 15, and if that will be the final day Gloversville’s shelter will operate.

Solar said New York state’s Code Blue temporary shelter mandate requires county Departments of Social Services to arrange for temporary shelter for homeless people on any night when the temperature goes below 32 degrees, which is mostly between Nov. 15 and April 15, but she said it could be any night of the year.

“[Gloversville’s shelter] is running only until April 15, but Code Blue really is all year,” she said. “If it’s below 32 degrees with the wind chill in June, that’s Code Blue. This year we did have a Code Blue in May, and we had to place those people.”

The Human Services Committee voted unanimously to approve sending the proposed Cooperative Agreement between Gloversville and Fulton County forward to the Board’s finance committee, where it will receive final approval to be placed on the agenda for the full Board meeting Sept. 12.

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