Supervisors learn of help offered seniors and vets

HUDSON–Housing and veterans’ services highlighted the county Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting March 18.

“There’s room for a lot of improvement” in the treatment of people who live in senior citizen housing—“not physically, but verbally,” said county Fair Housing Officer William Fisher. When problems that concern a resident arise, he said, the resident must receive notice. But some have received “offensive and frightening” messages, he said, citing the example of a senior who received a message that threatened the person with eviction and the loss of all possessions. Local officials have contacted the owners and management companies for these housing complexes about this matter.

On another matter, Mr. Fisher announced his surprise that “with winter the way it was, we didn’t get a lot of calls complaining about the heat.”

Meanwhile, Gary Flaherty, executive director of the county Veteran’s Service Department, said that his department is fighting the state’s decision to take away its veterans’ representative assigned to Columbia County using two approaches: calling state officials and replacing the office equipment that the last state representative pulled out of the county when she left. He said the Board of Supervisors has supported these efforts.

Mr. Flaherty called the attitude of a state official with whom he recently spoke “nasty.” He reported that the official had told him it did not make sense to pay for a representative, because only about one client came to her office a day. Mr. Flaherty said the official blamed him, saying that the outreach by Mr. Flaherty to veterans at their homes made them not want to go to the state representative’s office.

Mr. Flaherty said he responded by asking whether it mattered whether veterans received services at an office or at home? He implied that veterans should have both options available.

He also reported that four of the six school boards around the county– Germantown, Hudson, Ichabod Crane and Taconic Hills–have decided to reduce school property taxes for veterans in the 2015-16 school year. One concern expressed by those opposing the tax break for veterans is that the exemption will raise taxes for non-veterans. Mr. Flaherty recalled that he an unexpectedly “very pleasant experience” talking to the Hudson City School Board before its vote on the tax reductions last month. “People had warned me about Hudson,” he said, “but I actually found that at Hudson, I was treated very professionally. I was especially impressed by the president of the board.” The board president at the time of the vote was Peter Rice.

Mr. Flaherty also reported:

  • Of the latest group of veterans he registered for benefits, six of the group’s nine members served in World War II. Despite their advanced age, many had never registered for benefits before. In talks last month, Mr. Flaherty reported that several World War II and Korean War veterans have outlived Vietnam veterans. He attributed that to the exposure of some Vietnam veterans to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange
  • There are more employers with jobs available for veterans than there are veterans to fill them
  • As of the committee meeting there were no Columbia County veterans reported as homeless or in jail, though some were in treatment facilities.

The next Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee meeting will take place Wednesday April 15 at 5 p.m. at 401 State Street.



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