In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for increased efforts to combat the rise of homelessness in the state.
According to a study by New York City's Department of Homeless Services released in July, the homeless population increased by nearly 40 percent, citing a rise in rent and milder temperatures for reasons. Numbers from a recent Housing and Urban Development report report say there are now 76,000 homeless people in New York City alone.
"New York State will ensure that every local government is effectively outreaching to homeless people or they will not receive state funding. Period," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said his efforts to stop homelessness date back before his time as HUD secretary under President Bill Clinton, but now enough is enough.
"What does it say about us as a society? That we now pass men and women lying on the streets with the same ease that we pass light poles and mailboxes. It has become part of our new normal, but it is abnormal and it is wrong," he said.
Oneida County leaders say they already spend a lot of time addressing the issue of homelessness, and now they're pleased to see the governor making it a priority.
"I understand his commitment to that, and I'm confident that if they look at Oneida County, we're doing what can be done, and each and every day, we're trying to do more and more to address that problem," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
The governor's plan would require local governments and major transportation services to develop an effective outreach program that is integrated with any non-profit groups with the same aim. Cuomo said this would allow non-profit groups and local agencies to share data, have similar goals and streamline services.
Additionally, Cuomo is proposing increasing access to mental health and substance abuse services in homeless shelters.
State Senator Joseph Griffo says he'll work with local officials to handle the issue.
"I will take a cue from a lot of their conversation and the interaction that we have there to determine ultimate what the policy should be," Griffo said.
Picente also thinks the governor should look into addressing the mental health aspect that may contribute to homelessness.