Debate Brewing Over Dutchess Warming Centers
The Dutchess County Legislature's Democratic Caucus issued a statement this afternoon calling for the opening of Warming Centers during the time when cold temperatures are gripping the region. Hudson Valley Post recently reported on two such centers being opened in Sullivan County; one in Monticello and one in Liberty.
According to Assistant Mintority Leader Francena Amparo "the warming centers will allow Dutchess County to be in compliance with an Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo last year which requires municipalities to take homeless people off the streets - by force if necessary - when the temperature is below freezing."
Legislator Hannah Black, D, Hyde Park, referenced a 2011 press release issued by the former county executive which called for the opening of warming centers during a severe snowstorm that hit Dutchess. Black said "it is imperative that we act swiftly. The longer our administration waits to provide warming centers in various locations throughout the county, the more dangerous this inclement weather crisis becomes for so many voiceless residents who need our representation."
When asked about the request, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said "while we weren't made aware of the request nor has Legislator Amparo spoken to us, Dutchess County's "Code Blue" protocol for serving local residents during the winter months has been in effect for two months, with several county departments collaborating to ensure no resident that seeks shelter is ever turned away."
According to Molinaro Dutchess County's Mobile Intervention Team, the Department of Community and Family Services' Adult Protective Services division and local law enforcement departments have been in constant contact with individuals without shelter, or those who have been referred to them, to offer shelter and long-term assistance; those efforts have been doubled in the past week, and no one seeking shelter has been turned away. The Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response has also communicated with town supervisors and city and village mayors throughout the county to advise them of the "Code Blue" plan.
Dutchess County residents in need of shelter and those aware of an individual in need of shelter are asked to contact the local police department or the Dutchess Helpline at 845-485-9700 to make accommodations.