County still grapples with housing for homeless

GREENPORT–The Columbia County Department of Social Services moved nine male clients out of the Sunset Motel and Suites, 3559 Route 9 in January, because of violations of building, property and fire codes. Nearly four months later the county still does not house DSS homeless clients at the Sunset, Commissioner Paul Mossman said this week. And an overall housing plan for the homeless remains a work in progress.

“We had a meeting with the property manager a few months ago to discuss our concerns, say why we were moving people out and outline conditions the motel would have to meet before we would start using it again,” he said May 1. “I haven’t heard from them since.”

Greenport Code Enforcement Office John Florio hasn’t heard from the Sunset either. “The way we left it, I would not keep going back for repeated inspections,” he said. “They’re to call when all the violations have been addressed, and then I’ll re-inspect.”

Nancy Winch, county public health director, could not be reached for comment by press deadline. The Department of Health revoked the Sunset’s operating permit in January, resulting in DSS’s withdrawal from the motel.

In the meantime, DSS houses its homeless clients in other motels and continues to work toward a comprehensive plan for all of its homeless clients. Requests for Proposals have gone out, with a return date of May 11.

“We’re looking for a comprehensive services program for homeless individuals and families that would include providing such services as emergency temporary housing and also transitional housing, said Mr. Mossman. “The provider will be responsible for the housing location.

“That’s a big order,” he acknowledged. “But we’ve had several inquiries and I expect proposals beginning next week. It’s a start, and I’m hopeful that we’ll have a program in place by the end of the year, even if not housing.”


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