Six Programs to Begin with Nearly $275,000 in State Funding
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced six projects are being funded under the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in Oneonta. These projects are a direct result of ESPRI, the Governor's $25 million initiative to help 16 communities develop locally driven strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.
"This state funding through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will empower the Oneonta community to connect its residents with opportunities that will help move them on a path out of poverty toward economic independence," Governor Cuomo said. "I commend Oneonta for working to bring meaningful change in the lives of many Mohawk Valley residents and look forward to seeing the results of these vital projects."
"As part of our Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, we're providing funding to communities across the state to address the critical issue of poverty that continues to impact the lives of so many New Yorkers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We want to ensure that people who are living in poverty are given the opportunities and resources they need to help lead a more stable life. This investment in poverty reduction programs in Oneonta will provide increased economic opportunity for residents and help further our efforts to grow the Mohawk Valley region."
Shortly after the Governor announced the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in 2016, Albany, Binghamton, the Bronx, Buffalo, Elmira, Hempstead, Jamestown, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Oswego, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Watertown joined Rochester by developing local task forces to oversee local efforts and administer state funding.
Initially, these task forces worked to identify high-need areas and develop recommendations for investments and other changes to reduce the number of individuals living in poverty. Now, the task forces are beginning to implement the poverty reduction plans developed in the first phase, utilizing the ESPRI funding.
The six programs approved for funding in Oneonta are:
- Communication Across Barriers, $71,000 - Numerous community navigators are being trained and paired with low-income families to help them develop their own resources, apply for benefits, prepare for employment and assist their children with schoolwork. The goal is to bring stability, reduce the likeliness of homelessness and to seek assistance with mental and emotional health services.
- Opportunities for Otsego, $51,000 - A Housing Director will be hired to help obtain housing grants to coordinate low-income housing improvement efforts in Oneonta. This new position will help provide oversight for those programs and will include work with the community to respond to local housing needs and secure funds for projects including buying, selling, rehabbing and renting.
- Chenango Delaware Otsego Workforce, $22,000 - A workforce development program will serve youth, ages 18 to 24, that are out of school and unemployed in the Oneonta school district. Enhanced supportive services like childcare and transportation will also be provided.
- Oneonta School District, $22,000 - The funding will support the placement of two Otsego County Department of Social Services caseworkers in three elementary schools in the Oneonta City School District. These caseworkers will work with low-income families who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues, as well as children who are at high-risk based on factors such as homelessness, food insecurity and other identified conditions.
- Family Planning of South Central New York, $8,000 - The Teens Count Program will teach girls the skills they need to make healthy decisions and help them avoid harmful behavior. The program balances classroom lessons, off-site trips and community visits, and arts and crafts projects. Every activity is designed to encourage communication, build self-confidence and promote healthy behaviors among the girls.
- Otsego County Drug Court, $100,000 - Grants will be issued to local nonprofit agencies that participate on the Otsego County Drug Court to expand case management, enhance training materials and expand opportunities for housing for recovering addicts.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "The barriers to overcoming poverty are unique to each community and these locally-generated approaches are designed to address each community's needs. Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has developed a model that empowers local leaders to address the root causes of poverty in the most effective way."
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that for communities to thrive, we must deliver resources to help less fortunate residents. The ESPRI gives a helping hand to those suffering at the hands of poverty, which in turn strengthens community bonds, gives residents a sense of pride, and fosters growth both in and beyond each locality. These are great programs that will help deliver an equal economic playing field so that we can all prosper."
Interagency Coordinator of Non-profit Organizations Fran Barrett said, "ESPRI continues Governor Cuomo's successful efforts to tackle the root causes of poverty and income inequality. Through ESPRI, Governor Cuomo has empowered low income New Yorkers to design strategies for removing the barriers they face to achieving economic and social mobility. This is an exciting moment as the citizens of Oneonta are working together for tangible results. The unique system-changing projects launched today are a great example of the work being done across the state in all 16 ESPRI localities. We applaud the work of Oneonta's local leadership and look forward to seeing the impact this effort will have on the lives of Oneonta families."
Senator James L. Seward said, "Helping individuals find work, upgrading low-income housing, and improving education services for individuals in need are all life-changing endeavors. This funding we approved as part of the state budget will support key community groups as they grow their services, reach more people, and meet locally identified needs. Individual lives will improve and the Oneonta community as a whole will be better off."
Assembly Member William Magee said, "The funding from the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative will be instrumental in helping families in Oneonta to move forward and rise above difficult and almost impossible situations by giving them the support and access to opportunities they need to succeed in life."
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said, "Governor Cuomo's support for Oneonta's Poverty Reduction Initiative will help us to implement a proactive strategy to assist our families and children in breaking the cycle of poverty. In partnership with Community Action, the Oneonta School District, the County Drug Court, Workforce Development, and Family Planning, we have built a real plan to bring stability to families in poverty. I thank the Governor for his support of our locally developed plan to reduce poverty and increase opportunities for many Oneonta families."
Dan Maskin, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunities for Otsego, which oversees the ESPRI grant, said, "Poverty in rural communities is a complex issue that requires a multi-disciplinary approach to strengthen the lives of those affected. The Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in the City of Oneonta created a task force comprised of community leaders to develop strategies for children and their families in the City of Oneonta School District who are affected by poverty in our community."
The Governor's Nonprofit Coordination Unit, along with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the New York State Grants and Reform Team last year held listening sessions across the state to discuss updates with the Governor's ESPRI program, answer questions, and connect local government with non-profit providers and business groups. The remaining ESPRI communities are all in various stages of developing and enacting their local recommendations and are expected to announce their individual poverty reduction plans in the coming months.
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