Additional funds for heating shelter proposed for Cortland County

The Salvation Army building on 138 Main St. in the city of Cortland, where one of the code blue warming centers in the area is located. (Photo via Google Maps).

Cortland County Department of Social Services (DSS) requested additional funds from a state agency for the county’s code blue warming center, citing security concerns and increased usage.

DSS Commissioner Kristen Monroe told the Cortland Voice Wednesday there have been 108 people who have used the shelter at 138 Main St. in the city of Cortland.

“There have been between 10-15 staying overnight each day,” she said.

Monroe said the warming center is servicing three times the number of people they typically serve. 

“Many of the people are dealing with substance use disorder and mental health disorders, exhibiting behaviors that are damaging, violent, threatening, and very difficult to manage,” Monroe told county legislators at Tuesday’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

Monroe added she reached out to the New York Office of Temporary Disability Assistance for additional funding that could help with security and on-site mental health counselors to help the shelter stay open until the end of April.

“They have approved to reimburse us if we need to spend money on security and behavioral health counselors at the warming center,” Monroe said. “I put forth resolutions at the committee meeting so I have the necessary county permission to enter into contracts for such services should we be able to find providers.”

While both resolutions passed unanimously, finding service providers has been a challenge so far, Monroe noted.

“So far three security companies tell us they don’t have people who want to work in those settings,” she added. “So far with behavioral health we have two agencies listed. We are having continued conversations, but it is difficult. They don’t have the staff and resources either.”