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County Commissioners OK Homeless Assistance Plan

York County Manager Greg Zinser and commissioners

From the left: York County Manager Greg Zinser and commissioners Richard Clark, Robert Andrews, Chair Richard Dutremble, Donna Ring and Justin Chenette

Photo: Tammy Wells

By Tammy Wells, York County media specialist

Agencies that aid homeless people in York County now have a new source of funds to help people get into housing and stay there.

About a year ago, the York County Budget Committee added $125,000 to the 2024 York County operational budget to help combat homelessness. County Manager Greg Zinser met with municipal managers, but there was little consensus on how best to help. That led to discussions with the York County Homeless Response Hub – a group of social service agencies from throughout the county – and a proposal that county commissioners approved unanimously on May 15.

The $125,000 will go toward helping with housing placement and diversion funding, which helps keep people in their homes. According to Abigail Smallwood, the Homeless Response Hub coordinator, funding would initially be split between placement and diversion, tracked and assessed, and then adjusted based on feedback and experience. The cap per household would be $2,000. In the proposal, Smallwood estimated at least 50 households could be served.

“Support would consist of a one-time payment that addresses the main issue preventing someone from being placed in housing or remaining in housing,” Smallwood wrote.

The initial split offers $54,625 each for placement and diversion, with $15,750 set aside for administrative costs.

When possible, York County funds would be used to supplement other, existing funding sources. Smallwood wrote that while there are several resources available, they often do not go far enough to cover the need; the county funding would cover the gap. The funds would be administered by York County Community Action Corp. Financial awards for placement and diversion would be tracked on the Homeless Management Information System.

Commissioner Justin Chenette wondered if more people could be helped if all of the funds were to go to placement, rather than a combination of placement and diversion. “I have no doubt the recommendation (from the Hub) is solid … but that would maximize reach,” he said.

Zinser said a car repair that allows someone to go to work – and therefore keeps the roof over their head – is as critical as placement.

“If people lose their house they lose a lot. It’s more than one thing,” said Commissioner Richard Clark, adding he believed keeping the diversion piece is important.

Zinser suggested letting the York County Homeless Response Hub know that commissioners would be amenable if some funding needs to be transferred between the two portions of the program.

“It gives them flexibility and assures us we’re helping as many people as possible,” Chenette said of that option. “I’m fine with that.”

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