Gov. Cuomo Signs Executive Order to Protect Homeless
The new year brings new resolutions and cold temperatures. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a resolution and signed an executive order to protect the homeless in cold weather.
The executive order requires cities and communities to make sure the homeless are moved to shelters when the temperature hits 32 degrees or below. In a released statement Cuomo said when, "Inclement winter weather occurs, it presents a threat to the life, health, and safety of the State’s citizens, particularly to persons who are homeless, including the risk of hypothermia and potentially death."
Cuomo has directed local and state police to identify homeless individuals that are unwilling or unable to find shelter and to move them to appropriate shelters. Cuomo is also ordering social service districts to take the necessary steps to extend their shelter hours.
Hudson River Housing’s Webster House is the only overnight homeless shelter in Dutchess County. According to Executive Director Sean Robin, the Town of Poughkeepsie shelter has 60 beds. On New Years Eve 21 people stayed overnight.
While the Governor's executive order will provide some added complications for Hudson River Housing, Robin believes the move to help the area's homeless is a step in the right direction. "I think it's great to put a spotlight on this pressuring issue," Robin said. "Here in Poughkeepsie everyone is working together."
Robin adds the local government is on-board with the initiative and is working with Hudson River Housing to make sure Dutchess County is prepared. Meetings are scheduled this week to make sure the County can meet the needs of all homeless residents.
Robin says it's hard to predict if this executive order will see an increase in the number of residents who stay overnight. "We've been over-capacity in the past, and we are willing to go over-capacity, if necessary, in the future." Everyone who stays overnight is given a bed, meal, and additional medical care if necessary. The meals are provided by local churches.
12 people are currently employed at the Webster House, Robin says if the shelter continues to reach capacity extra staff will be needed. Hudson River Housing has already begun taking steps to add to their staff, if it's deemed necessary.
The Governors order takes into effect on Tuesday January 5 and will supersede all local laws, as well as any local directives, guidance, or policies to go against it.