Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 9, 2014

POVERTY IN NIAGARA: Benefits boom -- Caseloads, costs rise following 2008 economic downturn

Social Services' caseloads, costs rise following 2008 economic downturn


Niagara Gazette — Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, who co-sponsored the most recent residency resolution, said, quite simply, no-limit assistance programs like Safety Net are costing the county “a fortune.” 

Republican lawmakers in the county legislature have supported similar reform efforts. In 2009 and again in 2011, Majority Leader Richard Updegrove, R-Lockport, sponsored successful resolutions calling on the state to impose residency requirements for public assistance.

Virtuoso placed the blame squarely on state lawmakers, saying only they have the power to impose a residency requirement and enact other reforms.   

“Our state legislators have to do their jobs and do something about it,” he said. “We haven’t heard anything from the state. They are mute on the issue.” 

BY THE NUMBERS The costs associated with various assistance programs offered through the Niagara County Department of Social Services for the past five years: 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Purchase of Services $1.69M $1.72M $1.61M $2.03M $2.21M Basic Medicaid $37.0M $36.2M $41.3M $45.4M $46.8M TANF $11.5M $10.7M $12.3M $12.2M $11.8M Foster Care $6.2M $5.7M $6.1M $6.4M $8.5M Safety Net $7.1M $8.2M $8.6M $9.4M $10.8M SNAP $39.6M $46.0M $47.9M $48.9M $51.2M

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