MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Legislature will work on a resolution to ask New York State to tighten residency requirements for eligibility to receive public assistance.
Legislature Chairman Jay Gould asked members of the Human Services Committee to support a resolution to send to state leaders.
Gould attended the committee meeting to support the resolution. Chautauqua County Human Services Director Christine Schuyler answered questions from the committee.
Schuyler said that about 20 applications per month are from people who lived in other states or Puerto Rico. She said that while there are some residency requirements, there are several exceptions which allow people to start receiving benefits.
Gould said his concern is that several people who receive benefits have moved to Chautauqua County because it is easy to receive benefits without proving residency.
He said several other states require residency or have policies that are more stringent. Gould said the resolution has the support of the New York State Association of Counties, and he expected that other county leaders would be sending similar correspondence to the state.
Schuyler suggested that county leaders have the chance to look at current policies about residency to receive benefits. She said some of the exceptions are for battered spouses or other emergency situations.
Schuyler said there is not a “blanket policy” requiring one year of New York State or county residency to receive benefits. “There are so many exceptions that benefits are easy to obtain,” she added.
Schuyler said that the lawmakers may want to look at limiting the exceptions to the residency policy to make it apply more often to applicants for benefits.
She said her office processes as many as 700 applications each month, and it often can withhold benefits only if the applicant refuses to supply all the information on the forms.
Legislator Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, who is also county executive-elect, said he supports the resolution and would like to have more information before it goes before the full Legislature in December. Details about the current policy and exceptions will be provided to the committee members for their next session.
The committee also authorized resolutions to appoint members to the health board, aging advisory board and youth board. All appointments require legislative approval.