Linger, Lawrence say Greene County can't house homeless in jail
Sep 17, 2019 12:54 am
Sarah Trafton at Columbia-Greene Media doesn't speak with any Greene County legislators who favor the new Greene County jail using its excess beds to house the homeless, an idea recently proposed by the Albany County sheriff. Greene William Lawrence, a Republican from Cairo, said, “[Municipalities] have an obligation to have a place for these people to reside, to train them so they can find employment and provide mental health services. Jail is not quality of life.” “There is a lot more space available [in Albany],” Greene County Legislature Chairperson Patrick Linger, a Republican from New Baltimore said. “They have 1,000 beds in multiple buildings. They can take a full building for [the homeless].” Sheriff candidate Pete Kusminsky said Greene County could not house the homeless because of regulations. “Based on the size and the way Greene County’s jail is designed with classification requirements by the Commission of Correction, I do not believe that we would have the ability to close a pod, making it unlikely that we would be able to utilize the building in such a manner. If the ability arises where we had the space and if we would be permitted to do so, then I would certainly consider it.” Sheriff candidate Diana Benoit said, “It is sad to know we are going into this knowing we have overbuilt our jail. It seems strange to start thinking about what we are going to do with an overbuilt jail before it is built. I think the best thing is not to build a jail that is overbuilt and needs budget augmentation.” Lawrence, chairperson of the Public Safety Committee, said, on average, Greene County residents can expect a 6.73 percent tax increase next year because of the construction. The tax increases are similar across the county with Windham residents seeing the lowest increase of 6.48 percent, and Ashland residents receiving the largest increase, of 6.91 percent. Construction on the jail on Coxsackie began this summer. Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com.