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September 24, 2009 - 9:27am

Rochester homeless program receiving $4 million in stimulus funds

posted by Howard B. Owens in stimulus, Dairy Farms.

It would be illegal to use stimulus funds to help struggling dairy farmers, according to Gov. David Paterson's office.

Dairy farmers, of course, create and retain jobs and help provide an essential food product. Agriculture is a significant part of Upstate New York's economic well being.

Meanwhile, the D&C reports today that Rochester's homeless program, with a regular annual budget of $400,000, is receiving $4 million in stimulus funds.

No slam here against the homeless or helping the needy -- government handouts to both dairy farmers and the homeless raise certain small-government and free market philosophical issues ... but, isn't something amiss here? 

If stimulus money is supposed to, you know, stimulate the economy (at least in theory), shouldn't it actually go to programs that, you know, might actually stimulate the economy?

bud prevost
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You know what is truly sad about this? That it comes as no surprise. And, I'm curious if there were any stipulations attached to the handout. Is it used for job training, housing, clothing?? Also wonder if any of the top level people running the program are in line for bonuses? The term "stimulus" has turned into a joke. Every member of congress is up for re-election next year. I encourage everyone to see what your Congressman or Senator did in the past, and use that info to determine your vote. The status quo has got to go!
Mark Potwora
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This is why Paterson is a bad governor.Its all about the people who would vote for him...Just like the $200 back to school voucher...These people don't pay taxes,the Dairy farmer does...Whats Mr.Hawleys view on this..What can be done...
nick driscoll
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there is a new breed of homeless because of this economy and that is once regular working families that cant afford their mortgages and have their homes foreclosed. many people buy things including houses they can not afford and now everybody me included is paying for their carelessness.
James Renfrew
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How about a little more homework before running a story in this way? The assumption in your comments, Howard, seems to be that anything directed to the poor and homeless is inherently wasteful. Before you jump to that conclusion, how about finding a little more about what this money is supposed to be doing, the agencies, the programs, goals and objectives, measurements, etc. Maybe the program in question is designed to help some people get out of poverty? If so, wouldn't that be better for us all? We would feel insulted if a paper from that infamous downstate region of our state referred to a dairy stimulus as wasting money on cows; without first doing some serious homework on the dairy business in the modern economy. It seems to me that the poor and homeless are too easily set up as targets in these pages, with a sometimes explicit assumption that they are poor and homeless because they are irresponsible. Perish the thought that our economic system pushes people into poverty. If, since 1980 or so (when you-know-who got elected)the rich are getting richer, then it stands to reason that the poor are getting poorer (and increasingly joined there by ther squeezed middle class). What other result would we expect? When can we break out of this mindset that what I deserve is a much-needed stimulus, but what you want is government waste?
Sean Valdes
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Tell me again why I send checks to all of the non-profit groups that feed the homeless, provide over-night shelters, help the kids, support the schools, better the community, etc. etc. when the government has already taken my money once for all of those projects. The reason philanthropic giving is down is not solely (or even mainly) because of the slow economy - it's because we're already being forced to 'give' through stupid government projects like this one. I help the homeless (or anyone else for that matter) because I want to. Forced giving isn't giving at all.
Douglas Poole
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This is a real problem. To help his re-election chances Steve Hawley is pander to his crowd. He knows full well this is a Federal Law. Yet he tries to make Governor Paterson the bad guy. And the sad part is our local electorate will buy it hook, line and sinker.
Howard B. Owens
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James, you offer no evidence that this money will be used for anything that will lead to job creation or any other multiplier effect, just broad brush my remarks as uninformed. There is also no such indication in the D&C story. It's hard for me to fathom that there will be any sort of multiplier effect (the very definition of what stimulus should be (if indeed there should be stimulus). There is clearly a multiplier effect in assisting dairy farmers (it helps create and retain jobs). Not that I'm necessarily advocating a bailout per se. I think the entire stimulus (and you've been reading the site long enough to know this) is a boondoggle (as was TARP). I thought I was clear on this point, but your comment indicates you think I'm saying something different. The point of the post is the apparent contradiction that bailing out dairy farmers is illegal while bailing out the homeless is apparently legal. Doesn't that seem incredibly illogical? I made it quite clear that this isn't a slam on the homeless -- which you seem to have skipped over. Nor am I clearly articulating a call for stimulus money to go to dairy farmers (though, if it's going to go to anybody, it makes a lot more sense to create jobs (no better way than that to help solve poverty)). If you really want to help the poor: create jobs! Do you know how many small business start-ups could be funded in Rochester with $4 million. Not that I'm advocating such a plan, just pointing out the apparent foolishness of this effort vs. wiser alternatives. As for the gap between rich and poor -- a favorite fallacy to bash the free-market system. The fact is, the so-called poor in this country would be rich in many countries of the world, and the fact is the standard of living for America's poor is higher now than any time in history. Poor is relative. The free market has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever devised. That said -- as a society, we need to do more help lift people out of poverty. I'm a great believer in seeing people work and achieve economic well being. We need to do a better job of ensuring equality of opportunity, but most government programs do a much better job of perpetuating poverty rather than solving it -- something Bill Clinton recognized.
Doug Yeomans
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I know it's off topic but whatever happened to all the lottery money that was supposed to cover the costs of schools and close the budget shortages? Howard, I couldn't agree more. Pumping more money into social welfare programs does nothing but perpetuate poverty while benefiting the small percentage that it's meant to help. I believe that any able bodied person who receives assistance should also be performing some kind of community service to earn it. Do something or get nothing.
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James, I speak from experience. For a good number of years I worked for a company that had two retail outlets in Rochester. One on West Main, one on North Clinton - two of the poorest communities in the city. The vast majority of the residents are on public assistance and are considered "poor". Yet just about all the people have cable. Most have cars, ALL have cell phones. And many are able bodied but not willing to work. I know because I tried to hire from the neighborhood. And nobody shops like my wife and I do, using coupons and comparing prices. Nope, just whip out the benefits card and pay for all the junk food, sugary cereals and beer. Add to this that NY state has the highest percentage of it's population on public assistance in the nation. We also have the highest dollar spent per student in public schools in the country, and yet one of the lowest graduation rates. (RCSD was 38% last year). RIT just announced that kids that meet the scholastic achievement levels and whose family makes less than $60K get 4 years tuition paid. What about my daughter who is on the honor roll? I'm changing careers and am a full time student - making far less than 60K. And now we're throwing MORE money at Rochester's "poor"? There was a caller to a local talk radio show today that insisted that we should not be worried. It wasn't our tax dollars - it was FEDERAL dollars (probably attended RCSD)! My frustration at things like this is very high - in case you couldn't tell....
Jeff Allen
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Howard, it looks like you too are a victim of people not actually reading the post but ranting after reading the title and a few lines. I know the feeling. It was also revealed this week that $14 million of the stimulus money wil be used by the New York State Department of Corrections to provide job training to inmates. So now convicted felons come before hard-working dairy farmers. I know many people on the liberal side tend to favor social programs, and many are needed, underfunded, and deserving of help. But that was and is not the purpose of an economic stimulus package. Stimulus by it's very meaning is an immediate boost or incentive. Pouring more money into social programs under the guise of stimulus is just another way Washington and Albany shoved pre-exisitng pork barrel spending into a massive piece of legislation when they thought nobody was looking.
Bea McManis
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While I'm all for education and training people to do a job, I think that there comes a time when 'reinventing' oneself, in order to get one of those jobs with a living wage, comes to an end. Asking someone in their 50s to go back to school and take a 2 year course in order to learn a new skill may sound like the ideal thing, but how does that person live for the two years during their training (this is if they go full time)? If they don't go full time, work at a minimal wage job, how long does it take to get that degree in order to get that better job? Does every job, in Genesee County, require a degree? If I had my druthers, how would I allocate that stimulus money? I would use a (gasp) social program that offers incentives to business owners to hire more help. My stimulus money would pay what is considered a living wage to that person for two years (including all benefits). At the end of two years, the person has adequate on the job training; a resume that says something more than just minimum wage jobs or worse, a long lapse of unemployment; and most of all dignity. The benefit to the business? No money coming from their profits for two years. That money can be used to market their product; increase production; and have a ready made employee ready to hit the ground running at the end of the program. Just a thought.
Mark Potwora
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Cmon Bea ....I would use a (gasp) social program that offers incentives to business owners to hire more help... If there is no work why would you hire someone when you don't have any work for them..If there was work they couldn't keep up with they will hire with out the governments help ....How many of those homeless choose to be homeless..
Bob Price
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Yep,get a 2 year degree to make minimum wage....if you can get a job at all. I have to laugh at all these trucking school commercials-$40-$50k first year-only over the road,only if you get a job. It seems like all we have been doing the past year is help the welfare recipients w/ stimulus money,while the working people keep getting shafted.....no wonder why this state is having mass exodus of people,and the ones that stay here will continue to suffer.
Karen Miconi
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The way I see it, Paterson did this for VOTES. While I feel nothing but sorry, for the downtraden, our governor used our stimulus money blindly. Was there no planning? What happened to working for welfare?? While the need is greater with the economy, they went from 400,000 last year, to 4 MILLION this year?? I'm Speachless..........
bud prevost
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reply to Karen "our governor used our stimulus money blindly" Did you mean to say that Karen? I have no problem with it, but after Bea chastised me for pointing out Comrade Obama did stupid human tricks on Letterman, I want you to be prepared for some of the same. And Bea, your idea makes sense, so it has no place in NYS!
Karen Miconi
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No Bud, I in no way intended to use the word blindly, as to make fun of his parcial blindness. My mother suffers from Glacoma, and its not pretty. I wouldnt wish that on anyone......
John Woodworth JR
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Bud great comment, but people are dazel by charm and motivational speeches, rather then facts and actions. Hopefully, people will open their eyes and minds one day before it is too late. Heck, look at how low the President's popularity is today. Why, maybe some are realizing they made a mistake.
John Woodworth JR
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Stimulus Plan? Hmmm, the government is giving me back the money I had to pay them, in hopes that I spend it to stimulate the American economy. All this while property taxes, home utilities such as water, natural gas, electric, and essential commodities such as gasoline costs are on the rise. Hmmm, I just looked into my wallet and watch the moths fly. No new refridgerator, digital TV, or fuel efficient car to stimulate China, Taiwan or Japan.
Karen Miconi
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Good Points John! I dont blame the president though. He walked into the mess. I pray for him daily, to rise above all this negativity, and improve our country any way he can. He seems like a tough cookie, that can take the heat. President Obama should be focused on our relationship with the Middle East, and North Korea. They are a real threat to all humanity. The smaller(BIG)bodies of government should handle the economy and healthcare. Thats what we are paying them to do, isnt it?
James Renfrew
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I'm getting back to this several days after posting my comment. While I would enjoy commenting on the various comments on my comment, I am afraid that this item is now deep in the files and not likely to be seen by anyone at this point. I do want to say that I read the original post in full. I did not stop at the end of the first line and launch into a rant. I do see a tendency in many who write comments on the Batavian (and many other upstate publications) to see the circumstances of the poor in very unsympathetic ways. When a hurricane hits a city, we don't blame the residents for their plight, we try to help. When poverty strikes, many choose, instead, to place the blame on the victims. Of course, it is far more complicated than that. Yes, you can share a story about a single mother on welfare spending milk money on lottery tickets. But I can share a story about a hard worker devasted by a family sickess, and the outsourcing of a long-held job. Every case is different, but in general I see poverty as a social condition that is a fruit of the system, as much as wealth and profit are the fruit of the system for others. The Reagan philosphy was that in a rising tide of wealth all the boats will float higher, but the reality was that wealth became more and more concentrated at the top. People who find themselves in poverty find little comfort in hearing the someone else's poverty is worse then theirs.
Howard B. Owens
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James, one thing I don't think you understand about my own position is that I've been poor (born is a working poor family, in fact), and I've had times of doing very well, certainly a higher income than what I am at currently. I'm very conscious of the fact that a great variety of circumstances can lead to a substantial drop of income. The thought sometimes keeps me up at night and motivates me to work hard at what I do. But what we see far too much of today (and I'm talking from direct personal knowledge) is far too many people relying on the government for their needs rather than making wise decisions and putting in the hard work that leads a better financial future. Government handouts make it easy for people to be victims. It acts as a disincentive to start a business, or put in the long hours to learn a new skill that will lead to a better job. There is a hue to your comment that smacks as a slam against capitalism. You fault the "the rich getting richer." The rich getting richer is a feature, a benefit, not a bug. I wouldn't want to live in a society where the rich could not obtain the opportunity to get richer. Any other system would mean that the best I could hope for would be a slave to the state with no hope of improving my own circumstances. But in our system, I'm free to do my best to try and maximize my own earning potential, and so are you, as so is the 15-year-old from a poor, under educated minority family in Rochester (if he so CHOOSES). You write, "The Reagan philosophy was that in a rising tide of wealth all the boats will float higher, but the reality was that wealth became more and more concentrated at the top." This is just a misstatement of reality. The rising tide of wealth has greatly benefited the poor in this country. The working poor have never had it as well as they have it today (as I said before) and the non-working poor benefit only because we have a system that allows people to become wealthy because the very rich are rich and get taxed to hell to ensure they don't have to work to eat, and they can still get their big screen TVs at Wally World. In a system of economic equality, the rich would be poor and the poor would be even poorer. The worst imaginable economic system is one which we all are economically equal. That is a nightmare I hope I never have to witness up close and personal
Bea McManis
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James, You put it as simple and direct as one could. The smug comment that those in poverty are there because they 'chose' to be; or homeless because they 'chose' to be; or unemployed because they 'chose' to be rings hollow. I am appalled at the lack of compassion I read here.
Howard B. Owens
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Also, you write "I do see a tendency in many who write comments on the Batavian (and many other upstate publications) to see the circumstances of the poor in very unsympathetic ways." I can only have sympathy for individuals. I can care about the fate of my neighbor, a family member or a friend. But we're not debating about specific individuals. We're talking about policies as it relates to the best way to deal with social issues and what is a reasonable expectation of people in the abstract. It's rather typical of those critical of a conservative economic and social policy to accuse such people of a lack of sympathy. It's an inaccurate broad brush. From my perspective the most sympathetic position is to rally for a system that requires people to take control of their own economic future. The most evil system is one that provides government hand outs that ensures people remain enslaved to poverty. Making people dependent of the government is pure cruelty, damaging the poor as well as the non-poor, causing a myriad of social and economic problems.

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