Sunday, April 20, 2014

News
Motels back out, but county still mandated to house the homeless
By JOLEEN FERRIS


ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - There was public outcry over the temporary placement of the homeless, some of whom are paroled sex offenders, in some north Utica motels.

Two of those motels have since stopped accepting vouchers from the county for temporary placements, but the problem, most of those in need who use those vouchers are not sex offenders. Rather, they are the most vulnerable people in the community.

At council meetings and picket lines, elected officials and parents said to stop putting paroled sex offenders in local hotels next to unsuspecting visiting families.

Following the outcry, two of three north Utica motels that were accepting homeless vouchers from the county - Scottish Inns and Happy Journey - stopped. That seemed to solve the problem in the minds of many now-placated parents.

However, the Oneida County Executive says that paroled sex offenders only accounted for a very small part of the voucher-using homeless population.

Picente said the largest part, are the most vulnerable among us and now the county has no where to put them. The state mandates that the county provide shelter for the homeless. When homeless shelters are full, that's when the county turns to motels through the voucher system.

"Unfortunately, it takes away that entire umbrella, so to speak, that we were looking at for the vulnerable population, too, which are children and families that are homeless and are the largest percentage of homeless,"Picente said.

Picente says the county is already feeling the pinch of where to put these families and they're exploring options.